Come Down The Mountain (Matthew 17)

Sermon Series Spiritual Gifts 1110 x 624 (1)

Sermon Series: Many Gifts, One Spirit. Discerning Our Calling From God. 
Message 1 of 5: Come Down the Mountain
Scripture:  Matthew 17:1-15
Notes from a message offered Sunday, 9/29/19 at Trinity United Methodist Church, Sarasota Florida.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you have a calling from God. They go hand in hand. Each and every one of us. It’s not just for the pastor or the missionary.

It’s just like the Blues Brothers when they say, “I’m on a mission from God.” That could be our catchphrase as well.

The series theme verse is 1 Peter 4:10-11   
Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

The first calling from God is “Come, follow me.”

  • Call to a relationship with Christ
  • Call to salvation

The second calling from God is “Come down the mountain”

  • Call to relationship with others
  • Call to serve

Matthew 17:1-15, The Transfiguration of Jesus
1Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves.

What happened six days before? Jesus gathers the disciples and foretells his death and resurrection. Jesus’ foretells his call to serve

  • Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
  • Jesus reveals his call to serve and says you also have a call. You also have a cross.

Almost a week had passed since this conversation. Do the disciples have any clue that this will be a crazy, powerful, holy experience?

2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

Time shatters and Jesus is revealed glorified. Two of the heroes of the faith are there talking to Jesus like they’re old friends. There’s Moses, the one who was with God on the mountain, who brought down the ten commandments and led the people from slavery into freedom. There’s Elijah the prophet, who had many powerful encounters with God on mountains.

Peter, James, and John are in the middle of all this. They receive a glimpse of glory on the top of the mountain.

It isn’t just Jesus’ glory; it’s Moses’ glory and Elijah’s glory. In glory, we won’t be alone. Jesus shows us we will have companions and that it’s always about relationship.

4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

It’s good to get a glimpse of glory. It’s good to be on top of the mountain.

Why would Peter offer to build Jesus, Moses, and Elijah’s dwellings? That seems weird. It was actually a usual practice of those who worshipped false gods in this time period. You’d see the sides of notable mountains dotted with altars and tents, even buildings.

Peter is so excited. He’s like a puppy. We can do this and we can do that. Let’s stay on the mountain. It’s good for us to be here.

This is the temptation, to stay on the mountain. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back. We have this new relationship with God and our hearts are starting to be opened, and our eyes are starting to be opened, and our minds are starting to be opened.

We just want to hang out with Jesus on the mountain. There’s a reason why they call it a “mountaintop experience.” We want to stay with Jesus away from the messiness and pain of life.

The second temptation is to want to capture and control the Glory of God. Jesus, let’s build a box for you and a box for Moses and a box for Elijah and we’ll keep all this glory in the box and hang out together on the mountain.

5 While Peter was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud, a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him, I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.

They are hearing the very voice of God. Yes, it is wonder-full, power-full, marvelous, and glorious. But on the mountaintop in the full presence of God, it is also awe-full, mysterious, holy, and overwhelming. All we can do is fall on our faces before the glory of God.

It’s excitement and joy and it’s on my face, “You are God and I am not.”

Steve Garnaas Holmes said, “Let’s be honest: it’s terrifying to stand too close to a speeding train, to get near to the power of God, the light that can change you into your own unknown, the mystery that will surely consume you, the love that will crack your life open till the light all spills out

Jim Harnish said, “They never expected to see Jesus “transfigured in front of them…his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white.”  They never expected to see Elijah and Moses talking with him like old friends. They never anticipated the voice in the cloud that declared, “This is my Son…Listen to him.”  No wonder they were terrified! They were scared stiff by a startling experience of the sacred.”

What would you do?

Jesus leads as he always does. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Jesus comes in the midst of being overwhelmed by the power and goodness. Jesus comes and Jesus touches us. God touches us and speaks. What does God always say, “Do not be afraid.”

Yes, it is holy, powerful, mysterious, but God draws near. God desires the relationship and initiates the relationship. God always draws near.

8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The glimpse of glory was just that … a glimpse … and it was gone.

The first calling from God is “Come, Follow Me.”

  • Call to a relationship with Christ
  • Call to salvation
  • Call to come to the mountaintop
  • Call to experiences the presence and glory of God

The second calling from God is “Come Down the Mountain”

  • Call to relationship with others
  • Call to engagement
  • Call to serve

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, 15 and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

The four come down the mountain, down into the valley. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me. (Psalm 23)

We come up the mountain and experience the light, the glory, the goodness of God and we bring that light down the mountain with us so we can come into the shadows, the darkness, the pain, the mess and we can push it all back with the light.

Jim Harnish asks, “Which is more frightening for us? The possibility of some unexpected, overwhelming experience of the sacred? Or the challenge of following Jesus into the shadows and needs of our ordinary lives?”

Hear the Good News Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”

Prayer:
Jesus, give us your glory and give us grace
Grace to follow you up the mountain and down into the valley
Thank you for every loving invitation
You shine. You are glorious. You are Light, O Christ.
Fill us with light.
Grant us a glimpse of your glory.

Save us, O God,
From every temptation
From every false understanding and motivation

Save us from the temptation to just stay on the mountain
Save us from the temptation to never engage
Save us from the temptation
of trying to capture and control your power and glory

You are Mystery, You are Holy, You are God
We bow in wonder and worship

Help us listen
Help us follow
Help us listen
Help us follow
Help us know your touch, your voice
Help us follow you in grace, goodness, light, and service
Amen.

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Come Down the Mountain © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Worship Resources for Transfiguration Sunday

the-transfiguration-by-obrian

The Transfiguration by Michael D. O’Brien

Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday
The post includes a short reflection and quote from Jan Richardson in addition to the prayer.

Reader’s Theater: The Transfiguration
A simple script for three voices based on Based on Mark 9:2-8(NRSV). In this setting, you have the option of sandwiching the reading between the song His Name is Wonderful by Audrey Mieir (United Methodist Hymnal #174).

The Glory of God’s Reign
For a traditional worship setting, Psalm 99:1-5, 9 (NRSV) is combined with the classic hymn Immortal Invisible God Only Wise (United Methodist Hymnal #103). For a contemporary worship setting, the scripture is woven into Chris Tomlin’s powerful song of adoration, How Great Is Our God (CCLI #4348399). This worship resource would also be suitable for the last Sunday of the Christian year, Christ the King Sunday, also known as The Reign of Christ.

Transfiguration Meditation by Steve Garnaas Holmes
A wonderful line by line reflection on the Transfiguration text. Helpful as a sermon starter, for personal devotion, or a prayer during worship. It would be very easy to turn this meditation into a worship liturgy or a reading for multiple voices.

Terrifying Transfiguration by Steve Garnaas Holmes
A thought-provoking reflection on the Transfiguration which could be used as a creative call to worship or sermon starter.

What Did You See on the Mountain by Jim Harnish
Great sermon starter and discussion questions

Worship Resources for Transfiguration Sunday

the-transfiguration-by-obrian

The Transfiguration by Michael D. O’Brien

Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday
The post includes a short reflection and quote from Jan Richardson in addition to the prayer.

Reader’s Theater: The Transfiguration
A simple script for three voices based on Based on Mark 9:2-8(NRSV). In this setting, you have the option of sandwiching the reading between the song His Name is Wonderful by Audrey Mieir (United Methodist Hymnal #174).

The Glory of God’s Reign
For a traditional worship setting, Psalm 99:1-5, 9 (NRSV) is combined with the classic hymn Immortal Invisible God Only Wise (United Methodist Hymnal #103). For a contemporary worship setting, the scripture is woven into Chris Tomlin’s powerful song of adoration, How Great Is Our God (CCLI #4348399). This worship resource would also be suitable for the last Sunday of the Christian year, Christ the King Sunday, also known as The Reign of Christ.

Transfiguration Meditation by Steve Garnaas Holmes
A wonderful line by line reflection on the Transfiguration text. Helpful as a sermon starter, for personal devotion, or a prayer during worship. It would be very easy to turn this meditation into a worship liturgy or a reading for multiple voices.

Terrifying Transfiguration by Steve Garnaas Holmes
A thought-provoking reflection on the Transfiguration which could be used as a creative call to worship or sermon starter.

Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday

The Transfiguration, an icon from the hand of Theophanes the Greek

Every year, God’s people remember how Peter, James and John caught a glimpse of Glory. There they were on top of a mountain with Jesus. Suddenly, he is transfigured before them. His clothes shine with a dazzling brightness no one has ever seen. In this moment time shatters. Past, present and future come together in a holy communion. Jesus converses with Moses and Elijah, the faithful ones who came before to prepare the way. Peter starts making plans for them all to settle on the mountaintop when a voice from above overshadows them, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

The glimpse was just that … a glimpse … and with that it’s gone.

The four come down the mountain. It’s time for Jesus and his followers to shine once again in the shadows of the valley. The glimpse was a gift, to strengthen and sustain through the dark times ahead. – Lisa <><

The Transfirguration of Jesus
Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-9; Luke 9:28-36

It’s not a new message; I’ll wager that the greater percentage of the sermons preached on this text will offer a variation on the theme of navigating the transition from the mountaintop to the flatlands. And yet we need to keep practicing that transition, to keep rehearsing the journey that moves us from being recipients of wonder to becoming people who, transformed and—shall we say it?—transfigured by what we have received, can then offer these wonders to a broken world.
– Jan Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook Blog

Prayer for Transfiguration Sunday
ONE:
Radiant Creator,
Strong, Wise, One,
Shine in our minds,
Enlighten our understanding of you and your ways
So we may do what is true and live in your light

ALL: Psalm 80:3 (NRSV)
Restore us, O God;
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

ONE:
Breath of Life,
Refiner’s Fire,
Shine in our hearts,
Illumine every motivation and agenda,
Spark in us your compassion and reign

ALL: Psalm 80:3 (NRSV)
Restore us, O God;
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

ONE:
Jesus, Messiah,
Light of the World,
Shine in our ways,
Make them like Yours
Lighthouses to reflect your love;
Faithful beacons of hope to guide others to you

ALL: Psalm 80:3 (NRSV)
Restore us, O God;
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

time of silent prayer followed by The Lord’s Prayer

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prayer © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

Reader's Theater: The Transfiguration

Transfiguration by Cornelis Monsma

Transfiguration by Cornelis Monsma

Reader’s Theatre: The Transfiguration
Traditional Version
Based on Mark 9:2-8 (NRSV)
In this setting, you have the option of sandwiching the reading between the song His Name is Wonderful by Audrey Mieir
United Methodist Hymnal #174
CCLI # 1122230

ALL SINGING: His Name is Wonderful
by Audrey Mieir
United Methodist Hymnal #174
CCLI # 1122230

Instruments continue during the reading.

NARRATOR
Six days after a discussion about his identity with his disciples, Jesus led Peter and James and John up a high mountain. They were apart from the others, by themselves.

Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. Elijah and Moses appeared. They were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus,

PETER
Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

NARRATOR
Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice,

OFFSTAGE VOICE
This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!

NARRATOR
Suddenly when the disciples looked around, they saw no one with them, only Jesus.

ALL SINGING: His Name is Wonderful
by Audrey Mieir (United Methodist Hymnal #174; CCLI # 1122230)

compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the music, scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

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Reader’s Theater: The Transfiguration
Contemporary Version

Based on Mark 9:2-8 (NRSV)
In this setting, you have the option of sandwiching the reading between portions of the song Filled With Glory by Lisa & Michael Gungor (CCLI #4624295).

ALL SINGING: Filled With Glory
by Lisa & Michael Gungor (CCLI #4624295)
Verse 1 twice, chorus
Instruments continue during the reading

NARRATOR
Six days after a discussion about his identity with his disciples, Jesus led Peter and James and John up a high mountain. They were apart from the others, by themselves.

Jesus was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. Elijah and Moses appeared. They were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus,

PETER
Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.

NARRATOR
Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice,

OFFSTAGE VOICE
This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!

NARRATOR
Suddenly when the disciples looked around, they saw no one with them, only Jesus.

ALL SINGING: Filled With Glory
by Lisa & Michael Gungor (CCLI #4624295)
Verse 2, chorus twice, bridge 4X, chorus twice

compilation © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the music, scripture translation, art and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.