Coming Down the Mountain
“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met Jesus. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father.” – Luke 9:37-43 (NRSV)
Every summer, within an hour of coming home from church camp, I was crying in my room, the door locked on my parents.
Later I would learn this yearly fight was part of a phenomenon some call “campsickness.” Like homesickness in reverse.
For me it was the feeling that I’d experienced something profound, even life-changing, while away. And the dopes at home couldn’t possibly understand.
Maybe that explains Jesus’ crankiness as he comes down from the peak. In the afterglow of the Transfiguration, he is plunged back into the work. A distraught father. Failing disciples. Like opening email the day after vacation.
It’s exhausting. Why didn’t he take Peter up on his offer to build a mountaintop retreat?
But there’s ministry to do, healing needed. So instead of running away, he brings the Spirit he’s received with him. Instead of basking in the knowledge that he is God’s beloved child, he reaches out to heal another one.
God, today a few thousand UCC leaders come down the mountain from General Synod 32. May the blessing they’ve received, renew us all.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.