We go to work, we take naps, we read books and watch movies, we spend time with friends and family, we take adventures, and we rest. And maybe, in the midst of all these things, we go to church.

What is our motivation? If Jesus is, in fact, our motivation for the church piece of our week, what is our motivation for all those other things? In the midst of everything that consumes our daily lives, it is easy to lose our focus on Jesus.

But it is in the everyday — not just at church — that we are transformed. And transformation happens not by our doing, but by the Son of God, who continues to guide us even when we are forgetful. Let us now turn our hearts and minds to Jesus.

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Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Human One had risen from the dead.

Mark 9:2-9

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When I was young, my church owned a cabin at a conference center. Every so often the youth group would take over for a weekend. These retreats were what I would eventually learn to call “mountaintop experiences,” times when I would encounter God in new, exciting, and unusual ways.

In the gospel of Mark, Jesus’ disciples have a mountaintop experience of Jesus, as he is transfigured by God before their very eyes. They hear God’s voice proclaim that they should listen to Jesus, as he is God’s Son. It’s obvious they’ve witnessed something amazing. While the disciples don’t necessarily understand what happened, Jesus stays with them.

Much like the disciples, we don’t always understand our mountaintop experiences, nor do we always know how to tell others about them. But the truth remains that God is present on the mountaintop and on the descent. When we heed God’s call to be ready to listen to Jesus, we realize that the mountaintop moments may stand out, but we are not alone in the valleys, either.

Emily Miller

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With-us God, help me to know, even if I don’t always recognize, that you are a constant in my life, whether I’ve received your word with confidence upon the mountaintop, or if I’m walking through normal, day-to-day life. Amen.

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"Walking behind to hem my journey
Going ahead to light my way
And from beneath, above, and always
O Christ, surround me."

from “O Christ Surround Me,” by Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Emily Miller

Emily Miller is a pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), currently serving in the Young Adult Volunteer office, where she invites young adults into year-long service opportunities around the world. Emily lives in Louisville, Kentucky and FaceTimes with her nephew every chance she gets.

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