Jesus took Peter and James and John, led them up a high mountain and he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, this is great! Let’s make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” – Mark 9:2-9
Some churches in the north typically see a dip in attendance at this time of year as some of the flock migrate south for warmer climes. Those of you in the south are enjoying a boost.
Vacations provide an escape from the life we know for life as we wish it could be, a slice of heaven on earth, heaven being the ultimate vacation in the sky: a big house, lots of warm light, plenty of free time and surround sound choirs of angels.
As innocuous as this popular vision of heaven might be, it can lead to an unfortunate image of Jesus confidently doing his job on earth in full knowledge that he is the second person of the Trinity, playing his part in the plan of salvation before returning to his permanent vacation villa in the sky. The transfiguration story could be read as a proof text for that sort of nonsense. Just ask Peter with his well-intentioned but silly idea to build three mountaintop vacation homes.
The kingdom of heaven is not somewhere else. The kingdom is wherever the king is. And this king wants to share the kingdom by walking with you from bright mountaintops into the darkest of valleys.
If you are in a tropical paradise or shivering in a frozen wasteland, clear off time for Ash Wednesday this week. Jesus is waiting to walk with you.
Take my hand precious Lord, be my home.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.