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 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun and his clothes became dazzling white. Matthew 17:1-2 

 When I was in college, I signed up for a spring break trip to Egypt.  The highlight of our travels was a sunrise hike up to the peak of Mount Sinai; the mountain that Moses received the Ten Commandments on in the book of Exodus.  

 It was a long hike, but well worth it.  They woke us up at 3am – a challenge for our groggy group of college travelers (we were more accustomed to staying up until 3am, not waking up that early).  Heading into the cold, dry desert air, we spent about two hours following our guide up the trails, until we finally reached the summit. 

 We were exhausted by the time we made it to the top, but it was well worth it.  Watching the sun peak through that rocky, desert terrain, while standing on holy ground was a transformative experience.  

 It’s hard to stand on that Mountain and not think about our biblical ancestors.  When Moses came down from Sinai, “the skin on his face was shining” (Exodus 34:30) because he had been so close to the presence of God.  Standing on Sinai as the sun rose, you could almost picture it.  

 On Sunday, we’ll be hearing about Jesus’ experience on a mountaintop from Matthew’s Gospel.  Hiking to the top with his disciples, they too experienced the holiness of God there.  Jesus was visited by Elijah and Moses as he began to shine with his disciples looking on.  The text says, “His face shown like the sun and his clothes became dazzling white” (17:2). 

 Depending on how you look at it, you could call this experience either the beginning of the end (as Jesus then heads towards Jerusalem after coming down the mountain) or the start of something new.  

 As a church, that’s how we transition each year as we turn the page to Lent – with a holy moment on the mountain.  The story of the Transfiguration is simultaneously bizarre and familiar to anyone who has watched a sunrise before.  But we take this Sunday to revel in God’s glory, knowing that soon, we need to head back down the mountain.