Sunday, February 7, 2016

Children's Sermon: Mountaintop Experiences

I traveled so much last semester that I couldn't join the children's sermon roster, so I was pleased to get back in the swing of things on Transfiguration Sunday. I knew the pastor wanted to talk about how mountaintop experiences prepare us for the valleys of life, so I wrote this little message about a one such moment in my life.

Dear Husband was recording the hymns during the service, and he captured the children's sermon too, so you can hear it live by clicking here.

Editor's Note: Other children's sermons have considered the Pentecost/the Tower of Babel and Holy Week.

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All right young mountaineers, are you ready for a challenge? I know this mountain looks tall and dangerous, but if we stick together and try our hardest, we can make it to the top. Are you ready to climb this mountain with me? Let’s go! [Have each child hold onto a length of rope, then throw the other end to a helper at the top of the mountain. Huff and puff and struggle to the top.] Phew, that was hard! But we made it! [DH played a triumphant fanfare on the organ here.] The view from the top of this mountain is so beautiful! And look--if you squint, you can see all the way to Indiana from here! [DH told me after the service that we had actually been facing the wrong direction to see Indiana. Oops! Guess the clouds got in my eyes.] Let’s sit down and rest.

There’s a story in the Bible about the time that Jesus took three of his disciples (Peter, James, and John) up to the top of a mountain, where he was “transfigured.” Can you say that? [“Transfigured.”] It’s a fancy word that means changed from within. The Bible says that Jesus’ face “shone like the sun” and that his clothes became pure white. Then Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus. God’s voice said, “This is my Son the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!”*

Isn’t that amazing? There was Jesus with two of the Prophets, and God was speaking directly to the disciples! It was such a perfect moment that Peter wanted to just stay there forever. But they couldn’t stay there forever.  If the disciples just sat on the mountaintop and listened to Jesus, then they would never get around to actually doing what Jesus told them to do. What kinds of things do you think Jesus was telling them to do? [Love your neighbor, be kind, help the poor.]

Sometimes we have mountaintop moments, too. Maybe it’s going on retreat to the lakeside, or a time when God’s voice was particularly clear during prayer. Have you ever had a mountaintop experience? [Answers.] Here is a photograph from one of my mountaintop experiences. It was taken at the beginning of my second year of medical school, when I received my white coat. It was a very proud moment and symbolized the responsibility I had to my future patients. Just like the disciples, we can’t stop time and stay on the mountaintop forever. If I had tried to relive this moment over and over again, I never would have gotten around to seeing any patients! We have to get on with our lives. But mountaintop moments refresh our spirits so that we can continue our faith journeys. Photographs like this one remind us of how wonderful the mountaintop experience was and give us renewed energy toward the goal, whether that is creating God’s Kingdom on earth or graduating from medical school.

Sound like a plan? Let’s pray about it: Loving God, thank you for mountaintop moments. Refresh our spirits, so we can serve you. Amen!

Be careful going back down the mountain!

*I used Matthew 17:1-9; the voice says something slightly different in Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36, but all agree the disciples were told, "Listen to him!"


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