Following Has its Ups and Downs

Dear friends,

This Sunday is the last Sunday before we enter the season of Lent. It is known as Transfiguration Sunday — the Sunday in which we remember the experience of Jesus and three of his disciples on a mountaintop in Galilee. As Jesus was praying up on the mountain with Peter, James and John, they had a powerful experience in which Jesus was “transfigured” or transformed. In that vision, he became dazzlingly bright and they were joined in that experience by the presence of Moses and Elijah — the two great figures representing the law and the prophets.

Simon Peter wanted to remain there because it was — in every respect — a “mountaintop experience.” But, Jesus knew better. There were needs down in the valley that called for service and action, so Jesus led them back down into the valley to meet those needs.

Mountaintop experiences have their place. We need them. Those times of closeness to God, those times of inspiration, those times of being reminded of what is most important and of the presence of God in all of it — these are, you might say, the fuel that keeps us going in our service to others and in the busyness of our lives. These are the “up” times.

When Jesus, James, John, and Peter get down to the valley, they encounter a crowd, a boy with seizures, and disciples who feel helpless to do anything about it.

The experiences in the valley are also a part of our lives. It’s down in the valley where we experience need, grief, illness, conflict, and any number of other valley experiences. These are the “down” times.

The reality is that following Jesus has its ups and downs. It has its seasons of feeling close to God and its seasons of feeling distant. It has its seasons of growth and its seasons of dryness.

We’ll be considering what this means for our followership as I close out this series and we look toward the season of Lent — a time of intentionally focusing on our relationship with God and on the faithfulness with which we are following Jesus.

I invite you to let this season of Lent, which begins on Wednesday, be for you a time of intense spiritual focus. Plan to begin the season with on Ash Wednesday, February 17th, with a drive-through imposition of ashes.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Tim Bruster
Senior Pastor


Mark 9:2-9

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[a] had risen from the dead.


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