It is our name day today – a day full of the divine vision of Jesus on the mountainside surrounded by prophets and humoring his sleepy disciples. But as I was preparing on Monday for today, reading the text and beginning to think about it, one thing jumped out at me.
Before we get to the amazing vision the gospel writer takes time to tell us that Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray… again. There are about 7 instances in the Gospels when Jesus goes up on a mountainside to pray. Sometimes he goes alone, sometimes he takes his disciples with him. This seems to be his habit, and in today’s Gospel reading he seems to be trying to pass the habit on to his disciples. They are not very good at sticking with him in these moments. They fall asleep as they usually do. They will do so again on his final night of prayer on a mountainside in the garden of gethsemane, the night before he is killed.
I wonder about what the disciples thought as he took them to the mountainside? “Oh, here we go again, another night of boredom sitting quietly and looking at the sky.” They kept on falling asleep, but didn’t understand that this was the space in which Jesus regenerated his spiritual energy and mission focus. Perhaps they didn’t quite realize that they needed this also.
On this occasion though, the silence of his prayer is interrupted by a corporate vision. They all see it, somewhere between wakefulness and sleep. Perhaps, for a moment, the inner world of Jesus, and his experience on these night time mountainside prayer sessions, can be seen by everyone around him. Perhaps, for a moment, they are able to enter into his inner world.
It is transforming.
Where is your mountainside? Where do you pray? Why not come and join me in two weeks at Bishop’s Ranch and see what we see together in prayer?
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.