Reading: Exodus 24: 12-18
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So, Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. It’s the last Sunday of Epiphany when we read about Jesus and his disciples going up a mountain and seeing Christ in a new, dazzling way. It is also Camp Mount Luther Sunday. We intentionally picked Transfiguration Sunday for our celebration of outdoor ministries in the Upper Susquehanna Synod because children, youth, and families often come to camp and have a mountaintop experience, seeing Jesus in new and exciting ways.
In our Old Testament reading today, Moses goes up a mountain to see God. Scripture tells us that the glory of the Lord settles on Mount Sinai, and a cloud covers it for six days. On the seventh day, God calls Moses out of the cloud and Moses experiences God for 40 days and 40 nights. After being in God’s presence, Moses needs to wear a veil. He also brings the Law from God down to the Israelites.
Later, at Jesus’ transfiguration, Moses appears from the heavenly world. We see him representing the law of the Old Testament. We also see Elijah representing the prophecy of the Old Testament. Both are paying homage to Jesus, the one who fulfills both law and prophecy. There is a link between heaven and earth, grace and glory, law and gospel.
Moses and Elijah were anticipating Jesus’ transition from earth back to heaven through his death and resurrection. We read this story as we transition from Epiphany to Lent, moving from seeing Jesus glorified in his transfiguration on this mountain to seeing him humbled in his crucifixion on a different mountain. The transfiguration marks a culmination in Jesus’ public ministry. Interestingly, it happens halfway between his temptation in the wilderness and his arrest in Gethsemane.
The transfiguration is a visible manifestation of Christ’s inner glory. It was a revelation to the disciples of who he really was, concealed under the veil of humanity. Moses saw God on the mountaintop. The disciples saw Jesus in a new way on the mountain. When have you had mountaintop experiences that cause you to see God in new ways? Have you had those moments while at camp? What did they look like?
Living Word and shining Sun of God, in your presence we see the face of holiness. Overshadow us with your power and grace, so that we may keep your commandments and speak your truth with courage and love; all for the dazzling glory of your holy name.