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The Mount of Transfiguration is about as far from Christmas as you can get. But if you look closely you’ll see Christmas is there–there’s even a Grinch!

You’re a Mean One, Simon Bar-Jonah

The Grinch

Everyone knows the story of The Grinch (I’m old, so I only accept the original 1966 cartoon as canon). The Grinch despises the Whos of Whoville and their happiness–especially at Christmas. So he retreats to a mountain to avoid them all and live his life free from the disturbances of others.

Except for his dog, Max, of course.

In Mark 9, we read the story of the Transfiguration. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him to a mountain where Jesus was transfigured–seen as the shining, eternal being he has always been. Along with Jesus appeared Moses and Elijah. It was an amazing moment.

And then Peter had to open his mouth!

The Transfiguration by Raphael, circa 1520
Raphael’s The Transfiguration, complete with Whos in Whoville down below.

“Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Mark 9:5). In other words, “Let’s just stay here and not go back down the mountain to all those awful people down there!”

Yeah, Peter had a little Grinch in him. His plan was to stay on the mountain and not go back down to the others. If we’re honest we might have a little Grinch in us at times too.

This is My Beloved Son

The booming voice of the Father isn’t just there for Peter; we have to admit it’s there for us. During the Christmas season, there’s a cacophony of voices sounding around us. We get busy, distracted, and discouraged to the point that we don’t always hear Jesus clearly. The same voice from the transfiguration calls to us at Christmas. If we listen to Jesus, what might we hear him tell us? Who might we help? How might we care for others?

Listen to Him!

This message continues our look at Christmas through the Gospel of Mark in a series titled, “The Birth of the King.” While Mark lacks any mention of Jesus’ birth, his Gospel does exactly what Christmas should do for us–put Jesus squarely at the center of our celebration. Nowhere is that seen more clearly than on the Mount of Transfiguration.

This Christmas, listen to Jesus and hear the heart of the holiday. Where might he be calling us to go? Who might he be calling us to serve?

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