We all talk about mountain top experiences in the Church. Most of the mountain top experiences that I have heard people talk about are located in nature and there is a warm fuzzy feeling that wells up inside. It is a time of great happiness and joy. A time that, if it could be photographed, would hang over the mantle and recalled at each meal. A vacation. A retreat. A "once in a lifetime" experience. All have been told to me as mountain top experiences.
And who am I, you may say, to be one to question these experiences. They may very well be high moments in peoples lives. But what is important for me to remember is that just getting high is not a mountain top experience.
We can be high and feel exhilarated. We can be captured by the beauty of the world around us. We can even try to take a picture and capture that moment for our lifetime. But if our vision is not changed then we just got high. We did not have a "mountain top" experience.
Throughout the Bible there are people who had mountain top experiences. March 2, 2014 marked the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain, which is a story that is often cited as when the disciples had a mountain top experience. Maybe they did. I don't know. What I do know is that if their vision was not changed, they were just high. The still were just as dense as they were prior to their experience. They still "did not get it". They still were blind. They still did not see the Way.
Moses and Elijah, who each make a cameo in the Transfiguration story, each had an experience on a mountain that changed their vision. I would say they had a "mountain top" experience. Moses' apathy toward or disengagement of the enslaved people of Egypt was changed and he became a leader toward freedom. Elijah who fled to the mountain out of fear of being killed, encountered God and then went down the mountain with a new vision of his situation.
Having a mountain top experience means that our vision changes. Things seem paradoxically bigger and smaller at the same time. The world seems bigger on a physical mountain top. Rocks. Sky. Earth. The whole of creation seems massive. At the same time things seem smaller on a physical mountain. One human being. Situations. Problems are all put on a landscape that dwarfs these things.
Popular expressions of Christianity seek out the high rather than the mountain top. Because lets face it, we all would rather just feel really good about our lives than to have to change them. So beware of the mountain top, it may feel great - but it also may change you.
And we all know what is said about how much we like change...