Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell About It.

Sunday, February 11, 2024
Pastor Jason Bryan-Wegner

Mark 9:2-9

Grace and peace to you from God our creator, and from Jesus Christ, the Light of the world. Amen.

I studied for a couple of months in Nepal while I was in college. If you’re familiar with Nepal, it’s home to some of the tallest mountains in the world, including Everest. As part of our program, we spent a week trekking in the lower ranges of those mountains. One of the mornings, we got up in the middle of the night to summit the highest point on our route. We hiked in the dark straight up hill nearly 2,000ft in elevation for nearly three hours. About halfway up all I could think was, “This better be worth it!”

When we arrived at the summit, the mountains more than twice as high than where we were still stood shrouded in darkness. We were cold and tired. Then the light found us. The sun still well below the horizon first cast the snowcapped mountains in silhouette, and then revealed them in all their glory as light splashed across the vista. We couldn’t help but be gob smacked at the beauty and power of what stood before us. The light found us, and we could never unsee what had been revealed. We let the thrill of it warm us. We took pictures and felt the elation of doing this hard thing and being in this incredible moment. Then, within 25 minutes of the sun rising over the landscape, the clouds rolled in and the vista was shrouded once again in mystery. And it was time to come down off the mountain and continue on our way.

Peter, James, and John went up the mountain of transfiguration not knowing what would be revealed, but the light found them too. They had taken in Jesus’ teachings. They had already been astonished at his healing and casting out demons. But this was next level!

Jesus was the Light! And there he was with the great heroes of the faith, Moses and Elijah. Peter was so gob smacked that all they could think was to set up camp and stay a while. They wanted to bask in the light of Christ, to commune with Elijah and Moses and hold onto this moment as long as they could.

But, there was no need for those tents. They had to come down off the mountain. They had to let the mystery be a mystery, and realize that in order for Christ’s light to really shine, they would have to go where life is lived most often. They would have to follow Jesus all the way to the cross before they would really experience the full light of Christ shining for all the world.

Poet Mary Oliver once included in one of her poems these three simple sentences – Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. If there is a simple path to life with God, this might be it. Sometimes God shows up in ways that are so obvious, like in Jesus’ transfiguration. But most of the time we’re living in the ordinary grind of daily life, where God is always present, but we need to be paying attention to really experience. We need to be listening, too, as God commands the disciples.

When we pay attention God astonishes us in the everyday places of our lives. We see God revealed in the unexpected smile of a stranger, and in the hard but holy conversation with a friend where forgiveness is found. God transfigures us when we recognize our need for help and turn to Christ, or when we acknowledge something we do is causing others harm and change our ways. God is revealed when you notice that little nudge to call a friend you know has been struggling, or you hold a grandchild for the first time. God shines through us when we recognize all that God provides us and give abundantly out to Christ’s church and others that shine Christ’s light in the world. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it! Even if those moments are clear one moment and shrouded in mystery the next.

We can’t help being astonished when God loves us such that God shows up when we least expect, and often most need it. Imagine what would happen if more often we paid attention and said, “Wow! Thank you, Lord!” Imagine how others may experience God’s grace and goodness if we demonstrate with our lives and share with our words the ways we see God shining in the world.

We go to the mountain to experience the assurance that Jesus is who we believe him to be, and we come down changed. So, as you go from here, pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. Because Christ’s light shines in you and in the world around you. Amen.

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