My article for the July Crossways newsletter for St Paul’s Church Spennymoor and Whitworth Church.
On Sundays over the summer, we are looking at some passages from Luke’s Gospel. Most of these passages come from Jesus’ long journey towards his death and resurrection in Jerusalem.
But I want to focus on one event that happened just before Jesus ‘resolutely set out for Jerusalem’ (9:51), and that’s the ‘transfiguration’ (9:28-36).
Jesus took Peter, John and James with him up a mountain. As Jesus was praying, his clothes began to shine and his glory was revealed: he was ‘transfigured’. Then Moses and Elijah appeared and started talking with him.
It must have been an amazing sight! Peter was clearly quite overwhelmed by it all. He said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’
Peter wanted to stay there, on the mountain, with Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
He had discovered his comfort zone.
I wonder what your comfort zone is. Where do you feel most secure? Perhaps it’s at home. Perhaps it’s at a favourite holiday destination. Maybe, like Peter, you might have a spiritual comfort zone: a place or an activity that makes you feel very close to God.
A lot of people have discovered a comfort zone during the pandemic. Many of us were forced to spend a lot of time on our own, or just with our immediate family. After a few months, or a couple of years now, it becomes hard to go ‘back to normal’. We find we’re not as confident and outgoing as we used to be.
It must have been hard for Peter, John and James to come down from the mountain. But Jesus had to set out for Jerusalem, known what lay before him. And his disciples had to take up their cross and follow him.
It can be hard for us to step out of our comfort zone. But God is calling each one of us to do so. It might not be anything big. It could just be a matter of saying something encouraging to someone, or offering to pray for someone, or inviting someone to meet up for a drink. Or it might involve going somewhere, or volunteering for something new. Even little things like that can take us out of our comfort zone. But as we find the courage to step out in faith, we often find that Jesus has already gone before us.
There’s a hymn about the transfiguration called, ’Tis good, Lord, to be here. It talks about longing to stay on the mountain with Jesus and make it our home. But the final verse goes like this:
’Tis good, Lord, to be here,
yet we may not remain;
but since thou bidst us leave the mount,
come with us to the plain.
May God give us his grace as we follow Jesus down from the mountain.