Second Sunday in Lent

Mark 9: 2-10

The Transfiguration

Let me remind you of a hymn which I expect you know.  It goes like this:

“Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while he sings;

It is the Lord who rises with healing in his wings;

When comforts are declining, he grants the soul again

A season of clear shining, to cheer it after rain.”

Do you remember that ?

Experiences like this can happen right out of the blue. Perhaps you’ve been saying some prayers; maybe even struggling, and wondering where on earth all those people who tell you that prayer is easy, have been all their lives.

Perhaps you don’t know what to say, or where to start; you might even feel like giving up, and going to watch the telly. And then, right out of nowhere, something grips you. You don’t need any words; you don’t need to say or do anything. You just know, at a very deep level that God is very close to you.

You may feel moved to tears without really understanding why. You might just feel a great sense of peace. But you won’t want the moment to end.

This was Peter’s experience wasn’t it?

“Master”, he said, “It’s good for us to be here. Let’s put up three shelters; one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah”

He wanted to prolong the experience. He’d been given a glimpse of who Jesus was, and he didn’t want the moment to end. But it had to end.

Our experiences will be similar. You might become acutely aware of the presence of Jesus, in your prayers. Or perhaps through a beautiful sunset, or as you lose yourself in a piece of music or a song which is special to you.

It probably won’t happen very often, and it’s always something which is right outside of your control. You might want to stay with the moment, but it can be very hard to do that. You just have to come away from it. It’s too intense.

And all of these things are “the light which surprises the Christian whilst he sings.” Just as the author of our hymn tells us, they’re nothing less than “The Lord who rises with healing in his wings.”

We can’t conjure up these experiences, and often they come when things have been going badly, but not always. And sometimes I think God might well withhold them from us because He wants us to live by faith.

But we need to remember them, because like Peter, James and John , we shan’t stay on the mountain for long.

If you read a few verses past today’s gospel passage, you’ll see how very shortly after leaving the mountain top, the three disciples found themselves back in everyday life surrounded by people who needed Jesus to heal them. They met their friends who, we’re told, were unable to help a little lad who was having an epileptic fit.

Like Peter, James and John, we have to live our lives in the valley, not on the mountain top. And all too often the valley seems a dark and difficult place. But Jesus is right there with us.

We won’t be aware of His presence for most of the time, and that’s why it’s so important to remember those times when we’ve met him on the mountain.

Because then, when we call on him from where we are in the valley, we can be confident that He’ll hear us.

And as we listen to him he’ll take us back again and again in ways which will help us recognise his transfigured presence amongst us today.

And as we listen, as we turn to the Lord, the words of St Paul will come true in our lives. Words which say:

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Amen.