But at the heart of their apology I believe is a deep desire to be present with the community of faith on Sundays. They miss the Christian companionship. They truly long to be with the saints to give thanks and praise to God. Something is missing and when they see my face it makes them think of their brothers and sisters in Christ. When we gather for worship in the comfort of our faith communities we feel the Spirit's presence, make a sigh of relief and prepare ourselves for honoring God. We say (at least internally if we don't speak it aloud) "It's good for us to be here."
Matthew 17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” 10 And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”11 He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; 12 but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.”13 Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
Just before this encounter on the mountaintop, Jesus has predicted his death in front of his disciples. Peter is very unhappy about this and gets a little bossy, "God forbid it Lord! This must never happen to you." I can imagine him saying to Jesus, "Look man, this is not what I signed up for when I dropped by fishing nets by the sea and followed you. I left everything! My people, my business, my security. This is not what I bargained for! Say it isn't so!"
How often have you felt like that in the face of struggles that arise from your faithful walking with Christ?
But Jesus quickly gets upset with Peter; he calls him the devil! "Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things!" In other words: You haven't a gosh-darned clue about what God is up to, Pete ole boy, so back down and keep quiet!
Isaiah tells us that God's ways are not our ways. We simply don't get it when it comes to seeing God's hand in our lives because God never does it the way we would do it. The cross of Calvary is the number one example of that fact.
So then, Jesus invites the top three to take a trip up the mountain. Peter is thrilled with this part of the journey. He says, "Wow! What an awesome view from up here! You can see for miles and miles, Jesus! Thanks for inviting me; I am so very glad to be here."
“Lord, it is good for us to be here."
On that mountain Peter had the privilege of seeing Jesus' face shine like the sun. He caught a glimpse of Moses and Elijah. He was so excited he wanted to stay up there forever. "Let's put up some tents Jesus and stay awhile!" But the mountaintop experiences of our lives don't last forever. Those rare and wondrous moments when it feels like God is closer to us than ever. Truth is, God is always this close, we simply don't always detect the divine presence.
The disciples and Jesus descend the mountain. That "high" is over for now but they can hold onto it in their hearts. Ever had one of those amazing experiences where you want to bottle it up and keep it forever? Maybe on your wedding day, or when your child was born? The emotions remain a distant memory as we come down the mountain to ordinary, daily life. That's where we exist. The foot of mountain, not at the peak but at the bottom. And God meets us there too! But often it is sheer faith that carries us through our daily existence. At the base of the mountain we don't hear Peter saying, "It is good Lord for us to be here." But perhaps he should. Perhaps we should.
We also don't hear Peter saying these words as he tries to stay awake in the Garden of Gethsemane. He utters not a word as Jesus dragged off to Pilate's court. And at the foot of the cross he is nowhere near to even try to speak. In those moments between Jesus' death and the discovery of the empty tomb, when the eleven are hiding out in fear, do we hear Pete say, "It is good for us to be here!?"
But it IS GOOD for us to be here. Wherever here happens to be, because God is fully and completely present with us in every "here" there is. At a loved one's hospital bedside, at the side of a casket during calling hours, in a difficult and tumultuous relationship, in our fears and yearnings--- and also in our joys and mountaintop moments. God never goes away. He never hides from us. He is always with us and so that means. . .
“Lord, it is good for us to be here."
|Just a doodle I made for this story.|