Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Matthew 17:4 (NRSV)
Peter is ecstatic. He has experienced a moment that transcends all others in his life. It is a holy moment that reveals to him the power and majesty and awe of Jesus as he witnesses the transfiguration. It is his mountaintop experience. He wants to stay there on top of the mountain alongside Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Who wouldn’t? Can you imagine the theological dialogue that would have taken place? It must have been quite a discussion to witness. (It would put Pub Theology to shame!) In the presence of these three titans of the faith, the sense of peace and the power of the presence of the Lord would have infused every molecule of Peter’s being. It is no wonder he didn’t want to leave.
It is fully part of our human condition that we want to keep and preserve things so that they will stay the same, and we can experience the joy and happiness to which we are accustomed. But life is never really like that. As much as we would like to stay on the mountaintop, we also have to descend to the lowlands. Peter had to come down from the mountain in order for Jesus’ ministry and mission to be fulfilled. If Jesus stayed up on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, humanity would not have received the benefit of the resurrection. The world would not have been blessed by the passionate ministry of Peter and the apostles if Peter had stayed on the mountaintop.
Like Peter, I am facing my own journey from the mountaintop into the valley of uncertainty. My time at Calvary will end on the 31st of May. It has been a wonderful journey of discovery. It has been transformational for me as I have
discovered my pastoral identity, been challenged to improve my preaching, and have experienced wonderful and fruitful dialogue about all things theological at Pub Theology and in private conversation. More importantly, I have been welcomed into a community that has allowed me to grow, has enthusiastically supported my seminary journey, has gently corrected me when I have made mistakes (and accepted my profound apologies!), and has welcomed me into the sacred narrative of their lives. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a place like that?
Like Peter, I have to remember that God’s plans are not my own. My sorrow at leaving this fellowship is tempered by the many pleasant and fond memories of my time here and the people with whom serving in ministry was such a joy. I am sure that Peter’s memory of the transfiguration sustained and uplifted him when he found doubt or trouble. I am sure that my memories of ministry and the people of Calvary will sustain me when I am faced with doubt and insecurity. My time at Calvary has been transformational. I cannot say thank you enough to express what Calvary has meant to me and my family.
I would put up a tent and I would stay, but God is calling me down the mountain, to the next chapter of my life. I know that my leaving also allows others to experience the wonderful community of people here at Calvary, and in turn they will be blessed and learn and grow from their adventures in ministry. I am excited to see the next chapter in Calvary’s life and I know that with God’s help it will continue to be a blessing to Federal Way and the surrounding areas.
Yours in Christ,