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Mountain Top Experiences

When I was a chaplain in Auckland at De La Salle College in the early 90s, I would often hear the boys use the word ‘Awesome’. I decided to write a song using the word ‘Awesome’ to connect with them and their faith. I came up with ‘Awesome God.’ It became a key song for the boys at St Patricks, Kilbirnie in Wellington when I was chaplain there too. Lots of schools have connected with it.

You can listen to ‘Awesome God’ which is the title track on my album from 2000. I am accompanied by 200 junior boys from De La Salle. Their voices are magical.

Look to the mountains

Look to the sea

Look in the eyes of a tiny baby

Watch the sun rising

Watch it go down

Glimmering stars in the sky all around

Awesome God

Awesome God,

Awesome God

Awesome God.

The Beauty of Transfiguration

For me the presence of God is very evident in the grandeur of nature and the wonder of life. From the brilliance of a sunset to the innocence and beauty of the eyes of a child.

The Gospel this Second Sunday of Lent taken from Luke 9:28-36 is the transfiguration of Christ on Mt. Tabor where ...

‘the aspect of his face was changed, and his clothing became brilliant as lightening.’

A mother once gave this image of the Transfiguration taken from her own experience. It’s like the moment when I lift my baby boy out of the bath: he is all bright and shiny, full of life and joy.

God’s presence, glory and holiness is staring us right in the face. We need eyes to see and ears to hear. It can be in the smile of someone we love and even a stranger. It can be in the encouragement of someone we look up to and in the love and being together over a family meal. It is for us to look for God’s work and presence in the ordinary and mundane. Then the ordinary and mundane will be transformed and transfigured. It is as if the voice of God is saying, “Look these are signs of my presence, take notice, be aware, I am with you.

A very telling section of the Gospel today is the conversation Moses and Elijah have with Jesus when they stood either side of him. It was as if these two great characters of the Old Testament were giving witness to a new order, a new testament that was about to take place- ‘they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem’. We know what that passing was to involve and how Jesus was going to be rejected, abandoned and crucified. It was as if this glimpse of his divinity on the mountain of Transfiguration was a sign of encouragement and hope for Peter, James and John before the horror of what was about to happen.

Remaining Courageous

We don’t know what is around the corner for us but walking in faith will demand of us at times to face with courage and determination the challenges that present themselves. Coming through to the other side with the memory of God’s presence and encouragement will hopefully see us transformed and transfigured by the experience. We will be bigger and brighter people for the experience.

My dear friend Sr Sarto, a Sister of Compassion, has just died. She had to endure huge health issues towards the latter part of her life including memory loss. In a sense, she didn’t know what was happening to her, but we could witness it. It was sad to see such a vibrant, caring and practical woman failing so dramatically. When I saw her last weekend, I was struck by her face. There was an inner glow that shone out from her in the silence of my not knowing what to say or how to connect. In her fragility, I just knew how loved and precious she was. I wasn’t thinking about the transfiguration, but I make the connection now. Remembering that we are deeply loved and precious to God is a way through our own trials and tribulations and those of others we know and love.

Our Lenten journey reminds us to hold onto the moments of inspiration and encouragement when we need to come down off the mountain as Christ did and face generously whatever our lives present knowing our Awesome God is with us.

Track 4, ‘Awesome God’ from the album 'Awesome God'.

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