Posts tagged ‘18-35D’

February 20, 2012

A mountaintop experience

Annascaul Lake(Photo:  Annascaul Lake, Co. Kerry, January 2010)

Yesterday’s Sermon. Text, Mark 9:2-9

Do you ever like to ‘get away from it all’?  You know, to go to some quiet place, away from the busyness and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, some place to relax and de-stress.  Probably most of us like the idea but may seldom if ever get around to doing anything about it.  If you look at the gospels, you will see that the Lord Jesus liked to get away from the crowds, He liked to spend time alone with His Father, time to recover and rest so that He could continue His ministry with a fresh energy and vision.

One such time though, Jesus decides to not go alone but to take with him three of His disciples, Peter, James and John.  The four of them journey together up a high mountain.  I wonder what was going through the disciples’ minds as they journeyed along?  Perhaps they were curious as to why Jesus was leading them up such a steep and rocky path, perhaps they wished they could get to the top sooner, perhaps they wished they were not so hot and thirsty and tired.  But whatever they are thinking or saying they do not turn back, they keep following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Once they reach the top, something remarkable happens.  In the second half of verse 2 and then in verse 3 we read:

And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 

This word ‘transfigured’ is a curious one, what does it mean?  It means to change or transform; the Greek word used is μετεμορφώθη (metemorphōthē), from which we get the word ‘metamorphosis’.  It is like the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly, and it was something like this that happened to the Lord Jesus.  His appearance changed, Mark tells us that ‘his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.’  There is something wonderful and beautiful and heavenly happening here.  Peter, James and John are seeing the Lord Jesus in his glory, in His deity and power and His appearance is like nothing they have ever seen before, it is like nothing else on earth.

I would imagine that as Peter, James and John looked on in awe, that any sense of tiredness at climbing the mountain evaporated at this point and was replaced with joy, elation, wonder and even a little fear at this numinous, otherworldly encounter with Jesus, whom they thought they knew, but now know in a whole new dimension.

As the three disciples gazed, unable to take their eyes off Jesus, look what happens next.  Mark writes:

4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Elijah and Moses were two of the Old Testament greats, they were looked up to as men of God, as examples to follow, and great leaders of God’s people in the past.  During their lifetimes, both Elijah and Moses had spoken with God on mountains.

In Exodus chapter 34, we read about Moses meeting with God on mount Sinai and when he came down, his face had such a radiant glow that the people were afraid to come near him and so he had to put a veil over his face until he went back to speak with God again.

Elijah too met with God on Mount Sinai, (we can read about it in 1 Kings chapter 19), and it was there that God revealed himself not in a spectacular way, but in an incredibly gentle way, a ‘still small voice’ (KJV) or ‘gentle whisper’ (NIV).

So why then were these two Old Testament veterans meeting with the transfigured Jesus on another mountain and many many years after they had died?

Firstly, there is the obvious connection that they are, in talking with Jesus, in fact meeting with God.  There is an implied familiarity between them; these guys are not strangers, they have met before, they know each other.  Secondly, Elijah as one of the greatest heroes in the history of Israel, is there to represent all the prophets of the Old Testament and Moses, as the one through whom God gave the Ten Commandments is there to represent the Law.  So the significance here is that in Jesus, revealed in His Divine Glory, we are shown the One in whom all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah are fulfilled and the One in whom all the Old Testament law is fulfilled.  The Lord Jesus is shown to be above and superior to Moses and Elijah and the One who is the fulfilment of everything that had gone on before.

Last week we went on a family outing to the cinema to see the 3D Star Wars film that is out at the moment.  As we walked into the auditorium we were handed special glasses to wear so that we could see the 3D effects on the screen.  I must admit that the three boys found it very enjoyable (though my better half less so, as she actually fell asleep during the film).  Of course, special effects are not enough on their own to make a good film; the story needs to be good too.  The ‘Transfiguration’ of Jesus was much more than just special effects; there is a very important story and meaning behind what happened that day on the mountaintop.

Peter tries his best to deal with the amazing event and ‘special effects’, that he is witnessing and so he says to Jesus:

‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 

Mark tells us that Peter did not know what to say, he was terrified!  I think we can all have a bit of sympathy with Peter here; the experience was for him and the other two disciples way way beyond anything they had seen or heard before, even with Jesus.  Perhaps Peter is just trying to be hospitable and make a tent – they are after all on a mountaintop and maybe it was windy!  Peter, James and John may be terrified, but their life-changing encounter has not finished yet.

Next we are told that:

‘… a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ 

God the Father is here and as He spoke centuries earlier to Moses and to Elijah He speaks again now to the disciples.  ‘This is my Son’, says the Father, the ‘Beloved’.  The bond of love and attachment between the Father and the Son could not be greater.  The word translated ‘Beloved’ means a complete and total unconditional and sacrificial love, a love that is beyond all others.  And it is the same word that Jesus Himself when He says to His followers:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

As the Father loves the Son so the Son loves us and asks of us to love each other.

Dumbstruck as they were, by what they had seen and heard, this extreme, mountaintop ordeal was now over for the disciples. We are told next that:

8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

It was over.  It had seemed like time had stood still, all their senses had been overloaded with this experience of the Divine and now it was all quiet, all calm and they were alone once more with Jesus, not the Jesus who was too bright to look at, but the same Jesus they had been with on the way up the mountain.

What they had witnessed Jesus told them to keep it to themselves until much later when He had risen from the dead.  I’m sure that once their fear had subsided and given way to worship they would have greatly treasured this ‘mountaintop experience’ for the rest of their lives and it would have been something for them to remember during times of doubt and fear, persecution and testing that lay ahead for each of them.  Perhaps we too can draw upon those great times with God that we may have experienced in the past to help us with the struggles of the present and future.  Mountaintop experiences can sometimes be the thing that keeps us going when we find ourselves in the darkest valley.

Maybe we think that getting away on a holiday would be the answer to all our stress and tiredness, but perhaps what we really need is an encounter with Jesus, a ‘mountaintop experience’ where we realise either anew or for the first time, who He is and what He has done for us, just how much He loves us and how He longs for us to come to Him, to follow Him, to believe in Him and to trust Him.  As God the Father said to Peter, James and John, so He says to us: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Amen.

September 12, 2011

Roll 30

A few recent pictures.  These are taken with a Nikon F100 and 18-35mm and 50mm lenses using Ilford FP4+ (125 ISO), developed in Agfa Rodinal and scanned using an Epson 4490.  Kinsale harbour

Red Strand

Red Strand

Kinsale harbour

November 2, 2010

Gougane Barra

During last months clergy conference we had a couple of hours of free time, so I made my way to Gougane Barra.  St. Fin Barre built a monastery here in the sixth century and it’s not hard to see why; it is a beautiful and peaceful place…

But there is something about this place that goes beyond its beauty. Perhaps it’s because of the centuries of prayer and Christian witness, perhaps it’s the example of St. Fin Barre himself or maybe it is because this place predates our man-made church denominations. In the sixth century there were no Protestant or Roman Catholic churches in Ireland, that all came later (and all the pain / mess that came with it which continues to this day).  Last night at the Institution service for the new Rector in Bandon, Rev. Denis MacCarthy, there was a particular prayer before the Holy Communion that struck a chord with me:

As the grain once scattered in the fields
 and the grapes once dispersed on the hillside
 are now reunited on this table in bread and wine,
 so, Lord, may your whole Church soon be gathered together 
from the corners of the earth into your kingdom.  Amen.

Gougane Barra 2
Gougane Barra 1
Gougane Barra 5
Gougane Barra Church Interior
All pictures taken using Nikon F100, Nikkor 18-35mm lens and Fujichrome Sensia 100 Slide Film (which has now sadly been discontinued).  
August 18, 2010

"My lovely horse…"

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We came across these friendly fella’s on a walk near Courtmacsherry.  On looking at the picture now I can’t help but laugh as I remember the Father Ted episode “A song for Europe”, with the “My Lovely Horse” music video.  They don’t make ’em like that any more.  Ha Ha LOL !

My lovely horse, running through the fields.
Where are you going with your fetlocks blowing in the wind?
I want to shower you with sugar lumps and ride you over fences.
Polish your hooves every single day, and bring you to the horse dentist….

August 16, 2010

Templebryan Stone Circle

Templebryan Stone Circle, Clonakilty

Who knows what went on here?  Was it for worship of the Sun or Moon, sacrifices or perhaps some kind of observatory?  This is no Stonehenge but impressive enough in its own way.  I first came across this stone circle earlier in the Summer when I was driving through Shannonvale.  I noticed the stones poking above the hedgerow and decided to stop and have a look.  A few days ago I passed again.  With the Sun high and bright in the sky, the light was not the best for a photograph (too much shadow and contrast), but then maybe the Sun is what these stones were put here for in the first place.

Since I wrote the above paragraph, I managed to find a link to this place.  The small stone you can just about see in the centre is made of quartz and is called the “Sun Stone”.  In Irish this is “Cloich Griene” which became the “Clon” in Clonakilty (the second part of the name has something to do with woodland so the name Clonakilty means “stone in the trees” or something.  Note – If you know any Irish please feel free to correct!  I see from the link above that there is a nearby early Christian site with an Ogham stone. I look forward to going to have a look at this sometime – the transformation of these ancient people from worshipping the Sun to worshipping the Son is something I’d love to know more about…

August 13, 2010

I got to drive a classic car…

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… Well sort of.  There was nobody around to hear my pretend engine noises and tyre squeals as I took the Ford Model T for a spin.  I pass this fantastic sculpture several times a week; often there are tourists sitting in and on it having their pictures taken and so I thought that I would stop (when things were quiet) and have a go…

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This wonderful piece of work was the Millennium project of Ballinascarthy Community Council.  The plaque reads:

“You can have it any colour as long as its black”
These were the immortal words uttered by one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century, HENRY FORD. 
Henry’s family were residents in this very village prior to having emmigrated to the United States.  The Ford legacy can still be seen around us today having never hesitated since revolutionising the motor industry in 1908 through the development of the worlds first mass produced automobile – The “Model T”.  This car became a car for the people and by 1927 over 15 million had been built.  Truly this car and its inventor were catalysts of the modern motor industry and by the time of his death in 1947 Henry had 
“Put the World on Wheels”

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So if you are ever heading into West Cork along the N71, don’t forget to stop in Ballinascarthy and take the  Model T for a test drive :~)

March 24, 2010

Church on the HIll

Nikon F100, Nikkor 18-35 f3.5-4.5 D, Ilford FP4 Plus (ISO 125)

I thought it was about time I put up a picture of some of the church buildings in the parish.  Others to follow in due course but first up is Kilgarriffe Church in Clonakilty.  This photo was taken on St. Patrick’s Day and I have just developed the film so it is only appearing now.  The building dates from 1818 and is situated on a hill (and so is known locally as “The Church on the Hill”).  What more can I say – the people who go there are far more interesting than the building itself!

Regular visitors to this blog will have noticed a slight redesign – this was forced upon me when I was trying out Google’s Chrome Browser.  Somehow it managed to make a few layout changes without my telling it to.   I’m a bit scared of tinkering with HTML and have not managed to undo all the damage but I am pleased with the slightly new layout for the moment.

January 28, 2010

Through a glass darkly…

Nikon F100, Nikkor 18-35 D, Ilford HP5 plus (ISO 400)

I was reminded of these words (in the ‘old’ King James Version of the Bible) when looking at this photo I took last Saturday in MacCarthy’s Bar, Glengarriff. We were waiting for our meal to arrive when I noticed the shadows of two people talking the other side of the partition. Like the children I was getting fidgety and I had a couple of pictures left on the film…

The words are of course from 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which coincidentally is the Epistle for this Sunday (Epiphany 4).

12For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

Generally I prefer the modern versions of the Bible, but there are times when the old text has a power and resonance that (in English at least) imho cannot be surpassed.

January 11, 2010

The South Pole Inn

Nikon F100, Nikkor 18-35 D, Fujifilm Superia 200

Tom Crean is known to many today becasue of the successful play “Tom Crean – Antartic Explorer” and also because of the excellent Guinness ad. of a few years ago.

Driving though Annascaul in Co. Kerry recently it was great to come across his old pub “The South Pole Inn”. This is the place he bought and ran after his retirement (in 1920) from all that exploring with Scott, Shackleton and Co. It’s not hard to imagine bygone cold winter evenings with the fire blazing the porter and whiskey flowing and Tom telling stories of his many adventures another world away…

January 7, 2010

Annascaul Lake

Nikon F100, Nikkor 18-35 D, Fujifilm Superia 200

On our way to Dingle, my better half and navigator saw something interesting on the map so we decided to take a small detour and investigate. Despite driving on narrow, icy roads (with a severe drop down a cliff awaiting any slippery mistakes) it was definitely worth the diversion. The lake was flat-calm, the air still and cold and the scene very beautiful.

When we rounded the corner to see this scene in front of us it was a special moment. Being naturally a booky indoors type, I’ve gradually over recent years began to see the importance of appreciating God’s creation in worship. Trying to find a good place to take the above photo from was done with a mixture of prayer, excitement and carefully placed footfalls. Looking at the picture now makes me excited, excited about God.