Sermon – 8 August – David

The Transfiguration

I reckon it was Mount Hermon that Jesus climbed with his disciples this Transfiguration Day.
Looming over Israel’s Northern border, it is over 9000 feet high,
higher than Snowden, Helvellyn and Ben Nevis put together, so it would be some climb.
No wonder only Peter, James and John, muscular fishermen, could make it,
with the rest of the disciples, pen pushers like Matthew and Judas out of breath by base camp.
For six years I organized a retreat for York Diocese senior staff in Wharfdale,
inviting them to climb Simon’s Seat with me, a mere 1200 feet.
Only two ever made it.
Mount Hermon snatches the moist warm air blowing in from the balmy Mediterranean
making it shiver and drop its load, so Hermon’s top is perpetually snow-covered.
Brilliant, dazzling white.
The melt water from the snow forms the Jordan  which flushes Lake Galilee and makes Israel lush.
Mount Hermon gives life, enabling green rather than desert, a truly Promised Land.
Jesus and Peter and James and John were climbing up to the very source of Israel’s life.
I will lift my eyes unto the hill from whence cometh my help.
As they climbed Hermon Israel’s source of life, they encountered the ultimate source of life,
Hermon’s creator and their creator, God shining in Christ, who makes our deserts green, breathing life into our very deadness.
Psalm 122
‘I will lift my eyes unto the hills
from whence cometh my help.
No, my help cometh from the Lord,
who hath made heaven and earth.’
‘This is my Son, listen to him,’ the voice from the dark cloud over Hermon booms.
Who will you listen to this next week, whose persuasive voice?
The Telegraph, the Mail, the Guardian?
John Humphries, Huw Edwards, Laura Keunssberg?
Teresa May, Jeremy Corbyn?
Or Jesus:
‘Blessed are the peacemakers…
Love your enemies…
Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword…
Sell all you have, give to the poor and follow me…
Father, forgive them…
Today you will be with me in paradise…’
We sell faith short by making it a soft option, rather than a strenuous, challenging, thrilling climb.
Good that St Laurence’s nestles on a bit of a hill, a bit of a climb physically or metaphorically.
At the top of this hill we encounter Christ transfigured,
broken and bleeding on a another hill, Golgotha, giving life to the world.
Golgotha is diminutive compared to Hermon, just a green hill  far away,
yet is the most famous hill in the history of the world.
And we meet Him here on another hill, may be Hermon again, the mountain he directed his disciples to go after his resurrection, where Christ risen tells them
‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me,
Look, I am with you always,
to the end of the age.’
Christ with us every step of the way, making our every day Transfiguration day.