Date: February 26, 2017
Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church
Asheville, North Carolina
26 February 2017
“Our Eyes to the Hills”
Rev. Samantha Gonzalez
When I was eight years old, I learned how to ski
at least, I thought I did.
here was a deal in town for five Saturday morning classes for kids and my mother generously
signed me up.
At 6 AM, a bus would come to fetch me and some of the other kids in town. Now, I have never
been a morning person, so at 6 AM I was virtually a rag
doll. I would lie atop the bed, and Mom
would push my legs into my snow pants and swing me over her shoulder to get my boots on
was a very patient
At beginner’s ski class, I learned how to carefully zig
zag down the mountain, to “pizz
” my ski
to stop, and to get off the chairlift before it whipped back around. At the end of the class series,
parents were invited to visit and see all that their beloved children had learned. I was very
excited to show my mother
that I had mastered
hose five formative weeks
So, as soon as Mom and I got our skis on and took the chair lift up to the top, I headed over to
the first trail I saw: it was
black diamond (
the most advanced hill there
“Mom, watch me!”, I shouted as my hands pushed down
on my poles. Now, those very well
could have been my last words, because before I knew it, I was rocketing downward on this
sharply sloped hill. Instantly panicked, I tried my pizza breaking skills [no help] and my zig
talent [no good]. I was going ful
l speed ahead
like it or not.
Through a snowy
mist, I could hear Mom shouting from atop the mountain, and I could see in
the distance an orange mesh fence that stretched across that bottom of this hill.
s were speeding right towards the fence, a
nd within moments I crashed straight into it
taking the entire thing down with me. As my body lay mangled in
between the mesh, Mom
who was by no means an advanced skier
took a breath and then pushed down hard on her own
poles. She fiercely, steadily
swerved down this steep mountain to rescue whatever was left of her
daughter down below.
Surely, we have each had our share of “mountaintop moments.”
Those instances, when we’ve felt overly
racing down the slope far too quickly
without the t
ools, the skills, or the back
to make it safely to the bottom
or we’ve been overly
paralyzed by our fear, unable to get our feet moving
’ve been unexpectedly empowered:
charging forward without any assurance that we will
have what it ta
kes to endure the journey ahead.
With Lent just around the corner, it feels like we have been standing high atop a mountain for
some time now. We are still caught up in a polarizing social and political climate, a flurry of
mixed messages, fierce disagre
ements, and hard statements about who’s in and who’s out. It can
feel utterly impossible for folks across the aisle, folks across the street to find common ground.
Now, more than ever, we are asking ourselves how are we to respond, to act, to move? When
ould we remain cautious and still, and when should we fearlessly rush down the mountain?
Even in our own lives, we are dealing with the day to day squabbles and worries that rock us to
familial disagreements, hard truths from our doctors, une
asy moments at work or
school. Certainly, we are wondering if we have what it takes
as individuals, as a community,
as a Church
to navigate the uncertain road ahead and still find reason to hope that we will
arrive safely to the foot of the empty tomb
on Easter morning.
The Matthew Gospel writers knew a little
a lot of
something about this too. The 1
ancient world was a time when people were constantly at odds with one another.
The walls of
division were high between rich and poor, me
n and women, Jews and Gentiles. There were even
fractures forming within the Jewish and Judeo Christian community.
This was time of profound pain
brothers and sisters pulling apart from one another. People
from all walks of life, losing sight of what t
hey had in common as one human family. Certainly,
the Matthean writers were asking: What do we do? How does God wish for us to bring healing
and mending to these broken places?
It’s no wonder that scholars say that Matthew’s gospel
more than any other
is both a call to
a call to action. And the story of Transfiguration is both about witnessing Jesus the
Christ transformed in all His glory
also about allowing ourselves to be transformed as a
people by it.
What does it take to really “l
isten to God”?
On the mountain that day, Peter, James and John
are entranced by the
vision of their rabbi, their
teacher, their friend, Jesus being transfigured,
before their eyes:
Jesus’s dirt stained cloak now dazzling white, his sunburned d
ark cheeks glow bright like the
morning. His being is surrounded by those cherished prophets and teachers who have come
Elijah and Moses.
“Listen to Him,” God says.