Monday, May 21st. Mark 9:2-8

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. Mark 9:2-8

 

Just outside ofSturgis,SD, there is an interesting geological feature calledBear Mountain. Technically (which is a modern term, normally helpful but also spiritually empty) Bear Mountain is a tertiary intrusive, which formed when volcanic magma pushing to the surface caused an uplift in the earth’s crust, but failed to reach the surface for eruption.

 

For the Lakota Sioux, and for about 30 other indigenous people betweenCanadaand North Texas,Bear Mountainis a holy place.  Many groups tell stories of the significant events which occurred there.  The Lakota people tell of how they received the map of the sky that guided the spiritual life of the greater Lakota, Dakota and Nakota Nations from the top ofBear Mountain. The map particularly instructed the Sioux on how they should behave while near or on Bear Butte. The receiving of the star map is not unlike the receiving of the Ten Commandments onMt.Sinai. To this day, people gather at particular times of the year to consider important questions to the tribe and make lasting decisions for the people, as well as to gather medicine and food.

 

I thought ofBear Mountainwhen reading this text from Mark, the scene we know as the transfiguration story.  When I was on pilgrimage in Galilee, we could look off in the distance from just about wherever we were and we could seeMountTabor, the traditional site for this story.  For a Christian living inGalilee, that mountain would be a constant reminder of this story from Mark.  Just a glance and a moment to ponder and you would be joining Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah on the top of that mountain with Jesus.

 

Far off in the distance, you would see the snowy top of Mount Hermon, the source of fresh water inIsrael.

 

God would be as close to you as the mountains off in the distance.  God’s presence, and God’s words (This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!) would be a living reality, not a foggy memory.

 

But for most of us?  We live in a world reduced to man-made mountains stripped of spiritual significance except for the gods of commerce.  Our temples are skyscrapers and sports stadiums.

 

And yet this is not all that bad or is it to be unexpected.  For God knew in sending his disciples to the ends of the earth that such a journey would take them far away fromMountTabor.  So the story was captured in memories and then in words and then shared down through the ages.  For God knows that we need such sign posts to remember who we are and what we are about.  And all it takes is a word to remind us, to take us to mountaintops we might never see in person, and yet still live as those who remember well the words of God’s Beloved Son.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, you have touched our lives on mountain tops, you have carried us through valleys, and you have called us to remember the words of Jesus.  We give you thanks for those brief glimpses of glory that root themselves deeply in us, bringing meaning and purpose into our journey in life.  Thank you for these signs and may we ever follow as they lead the way.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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2 Responses to “Monday, May 21st. Mark 9:2-8”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Welcome from you being away to the mountain top, we missed you 🙂

  2. Karen Says:

    Glad you’re back. This one is a keeper.

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