Session 2: The Mountain | Preparing for Prayer
Begin this prayer by taking a few moments to move more deeply into quiet by focussing on your own breathing. It’s important that you don’t try and change its rhythm or depth. All you have to do is notice it. Notice as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Be aware of the air being drawn in to your lungs; and then aware, too, of it being returned to the atmosphere as you breathe out. Simply and calmly, pay attention now to your next half-dozen breaths.
This time, as you breathe in, let your attention follow your breath into your chest. In Hebrew, the words for ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’, as in the Holy Spirit, are the same, ruach. So imagine breathing in God’s Spirit, and letting the centre of yourself become flooded with the Spirit’s warmth and light.
Now let your breathing continue, quietly in the background, but let your attention stay with the Spirit at the heart of yourself, just resting there in that place of quiet stillness.
And in that place of quiet stillness, pay attention to the word of God as it comes to you now in the words Matthew’s Gospel… Following the reading, we invite you pause and use our supplementary Lectio Divina guide to help you meditate on the scripture in a deeper way.
Second Session Reading: Matthew 17:1-9
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then 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.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’
• In the gospel reading of last week’s session, we were with Jesus in the desert. He was alone, bereft of human company. In his solitude, he was tested by the devil. In this session, we accompany him up a mountain. He takes with him three disciples with whom we can identify. Peter, their leader, had recently confessed Jesus as ‘Son of the Living God’. All the disciples had been shaken when, for the first time, Jesus had spoken of his coming suffering and death, and had warned them that to follow him was to take up the cross. The days of the Passion were drawing near.
• On the mountaintop, Jesus’s figure reflected the appearance of God in the brightness of his face and the sheen of his clothing (Ezekiel 8:2). He was not alone. Moses, the great law-giver, and Elijah, the mighty prophet, kept him company. Peter reacted as if they were already in heaven where, according to popular belief, the blessed dwell in tents.
• But at once a voice was heard, speaking about Jesus. He was indeed the Son of God, as Peter had declared, but he was also the one whose voice was to be obeyed: ‘Listen to him’. God now spoke, not as in the past through Moses, but through Jesus, and the disciples were only too aware that his message was that of the cross. He was the prophet whom God had promised Moses that he would send, whom the people were to heed (Deuteronomy 18:15).
Talk to God
• The disciples in fear fell to the ground, just as Daniel had done when he heard the voice of God (Daniel 10:9-10). Jesus approached them, as he would at the end of the gospel (Matthew 28:18) and touched them, with words of comfort and encouragement. Do you notice any fear within you as you pray today? If you do, take a moment to imagine Jesus approaching you with that same comfort and encouragement…
• The sight of Jesus was reassurance enough. His presence meant consolation, not threat. Are you able to see Jesus clearly today? To see the reassurance he brings? If this is difficult for you at the moment, return to a verse from the passage that stood out to you… you might like to ask God to reveal Jesus’s reassurance to you in this way…
• In this second week of Lent, we join those disciples on the mountain with Jesus, so that we may walk with confident steps to meet the challenges with which life presents us.