Mountains are a place of wonder and awe.
I remember driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains as a teenager.
We stopped in West Virginia at a small motel on the side of a mountain.
I took my French horn with and hiked to the top of the mountain.
I looked at the valley spread below me,
with the highway and tiny cars on it winding its way through the forest and craggy cliffs
I took out my horn and played the theme to Wagner’s Siegfried: (sing the melody)
and I listened as it echoed throughout the valley below, an alpine horn player in a snow globe world.
Across the cultures of the world, mountains have been a place to meet God.
Of course there is Moses, mentioned today in our OT and Gospel lesson,
who goes up the Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments.
But there’s also Mount Olympus, which the ancient Greeks thought of as the home of the gods,
Tibet's Mount Kailash, the home of Hindu god Shiva,
and Mount Fuji in Japan, the incarnation of the earth’s spirit.
Mountains are sacred in many religions,
and holy shrines, temples and even churches dot holy mountain tops around the world.
It’s no wonder, then, that when Jesus goes up a mountain, that something significant happens.
In the story we have from Luke, Jesus and three of disciples were up a mountain, praying,
when suddenly Jesus is filled with light and Moses and Elijah appear.
These luminaries of the faith talked with Jesus, in their full glory
and the voice of the Lord spoke out of a cloud: “This is my son, My Chosen; listen to him!”
It was an encounter with the divine—a classic mountaintop experience.
In our daily lives, we sometimes have these ‘mountaintop experiences’—
times when we sense the presence of God.
They might be times of glory and awe, or times of joy—it can even be a time of sorrow,
when in the tenderness of our hearts we experience compassion and consolation.
Take a moment right now to think of a time in the past year when you felt God was near.
It could be in our work here at church; it could be at work or home or even with a stranger or in the woods.
How did you experience the presence of God?
Now turn to a neighbor, and share something of a time when you experienced God.
Is there someone who would like to share a few sentences into the microphone?
One thing to notice in this story, is that prior to the lightshow and the arrival of Moses and Elijah,
the disciples were getting sleepy.
Remember that later in the Gospel of Luke they fall asleep
while they were supposed to be praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
So the fact that they stayed awake allowed them to experience the power of God.
The disciples, for an instant, captured a glimpse of who Jesus really was: God’s chosen, God’s son.
We too, when we are ‘awake,’ notice God’s presence all around us.
We see Jesus in the faces of those who need help, those we love, those who challenge us.
We see that God is with us, at the mountaintop, in the valley,
and everywhere in between.