If someone told you they had a mountaintop experience, what would you think they meant? Most of the time, people mean they had an experience that changed them. They went someplace or to an event or perhaps just experienced something in a new way that they never had before and it fundamentally changed something inside them or transformed the way they viewed the world.
There are a lot of things that happen on the tops of mountains in the bible and most of the time, these things have something to do with meeting God. In our gospel text for today, Jesus goes to the mountaintop to pray. In our Old Testament lesson, Moses goes to meet God in a mysterious cloud on the mountain. It is here that Moses receives the Ten Commandments.
The prophet Elijah, who also shows up in this gospel text, had a significant mountaintop experience, too. He was the superstar of prophets and at a very low period in his life and ministry, one of those times when it would be really good for God to show up in an unmistakable way, he runs to the mountain to find God. Or perhaps to just hide and get away from those who were trying to kill him.
Many of us might understand this. Not the part about hiding from people who are trying to kill us, I hope! The part about having a low period in our lives and really wishing God would show up and give us direction or make everything right. Like a bolt of lightning or one of those burning bushes. Or even just let us know we are not alone. Lots of people come to our area, here in the Appalachian mountains, for just such a thing as this. They, like all of us on some level, want to have a moment of connection with something bigger than ourselves, something that gives life meaning and perspective, and perhaps a connection with that which is holy and divine. They find it here, in the mountains……