The Hero’s Journey – Bishop Doug


Mountains have had a significant role in God’s dealings with His people. In the English language we have the expression “mountain-top experience”. This expression has originated from the Bible because of the dealings God had with His people on various “mountain-tops”. So the phrase has come to mean a moment of transcendence – or epiphany; and in particular an experience of significant revelation given by God.

It was on Ararat Mountain that Noah’s ark came to rest after the Flood and where God made a covenant with Noah there (Genesis 8:4).

On one of the mountains in the region of Moriah Abraham hears God speak to him( Genesis 22:2). Later Solomon would build the temple on Mount Moriah.

On Mount Sinai (also known as Mt. Horeb) God revealed His character to Moses and gave him the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:16-20:12).

On Mt. Carmel Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal to a contest to see which God would answer by fire (1 Kings 18). And after the great contest when Elijah ran for his life he travelled to Mt. Horeb and God met with him there in the “still small voice”, a “gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19).

Mount Zion was the place where King David built his city (later called Jerusalem). Where God is said to dwell (Isaiah 8:18).

Jesus taught His disciples on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:3) He was transfigured on a mountain ( Mark 9:2). It shouldn’t surprise us that Moses and Elijah (who both had their own mountain-top experiences) were seen talking with Jesus on that mountain.

Deserts are the place where one goes to face ones lower self and deal with the temptations that arises from our animal nature. But mountain tops, figuratively and literally, are the place where we must go to meet God and come in contact with our higher self.

Deserts experiences are where we must loose everything that sustains us. To be stripped down to the bare minimum. This is the place where you come to know that it is only by God’s grace that you are sustained. This the place where you must not be govern by the appearance of reality, where only thing that remains is Faith beyond any outer evidence. The archetype of this is the story of Job.

Jenni and I went through this kind of stripping down experience a few year back. Many of you know our story and how we were miraculously taken care of. The Desert experience is part of the Hero’s Journey. Without the stripping down of the desert experience there is no Mountain-top experience.

It is only through the breaking down of our belief that we are in control of all of this, of our very life, that we come to the place of deep, deep surrender that is required in the desert. The desert experience is a deserted place, a dangerous place. Many have not survived this place of deep surrender to our total helplessness and without the anchor of faith in their life, in a final desperate act of self-will many have taken their own life.

But with this anchor of faith if we turn it over to God we begin the return journey that ultimately ends up on the mountaintop. It is here in the desert that we gain the great Boon of Spiritual Blessings called the secret of secrets that will carry us through the rest of our journey to the mountain-top.

You know I used to live in Maine, and just after I moverd there I was out looking for a place to live and I was given an address of a house to look at. The house was out in the country and I drove around and around looking for the street and finally I found a farmer mowing the side of the road and I stopped to ask directions, he with a puzzled look and said in that wonderful Maine accent “Well you can’t get there from Here”. Thinking he was being rude or unfriendly. I rolled up my window and drove off. As I was driving I saw an old man walking his dog so stop and asked him for direction. He greeted me with a smile removed his hat, scratched his head and said, “Well, ya can’t get there from here”. Slightly indignant I replied “I thought you could get anywhere from anywhere… Well where can you get there from”? he pointed up the road and Said, “Go up here about a mile and take the Biddiford road, you can get there from there”.

You can’t get to the Mountain- top from here. You have to go through the desert first.

This is what Jesus did and now in our gospel today we fine him high up on the mountain-top clothed in light. Talking with Moses and Elijah. In the mountain top experience there is the fullness of grace. This is where one experience the Divine directly and not just by Faith.

The mountain-top is where you takes on the divine light, radiating it back into the world. In Exodus 34 we have an account of Moses after he came down from the mountain, his face was shining so brightly that he needed to be veiled when he spoke to others.

The story of the Transfiguration is one of the most important stories in the New Testament. Much of the theology of Jesus as the Son of God came from the telling of this story.

I have to admit honestly that I don’t know if Jesus is the “Only” begotten son of God in an empirical, scientifically provable way. Anyone who claims to absolutely know that is probably not being honest. What I do know, I do know from my own experience, which is the best anyone can say. So these things I know:

  • That there is an energy that has created, sustains, and connects all that exists and that it is Conscious and available to be experienced directly.
  • I choose to call that energy God, but it could be called by any name or no name at all without impacting the reality of it.
  • The direct experience of that energy transforms ones being such that they experience them-self as one with all that is.
  • That after such an experience the only thing of real and lasting value is Love. The only theology that remains is love.
  • Only the power of Love can and will heal our broken world.
  • That the Master Jesus experienced himself as one with God and taught love.
  • That Jesus was not a Christian, but a Christ and wanted us each to be t like him.
  • That being a Christ means that you open a heart space big enough for a whole world embrace.

I like the story of the Transfiguration because here in the telling of the story we see Jesus become a radiant light being. He ascends to a whole new level of being, which we might call the first Ascension, where he is change, transformed.

Jesus points to a process we each are call to, a process that I, and other, have called the Hero’s Journey. It begins with a spiritual thirst that can’t be quenched by the endless accumulation of things, of knowledge, and of power and prestige. It leads us out to the deserted places where we find that the only thing of value is total surrender to and trust in that Divine Being who that has created and sustains all things.

From there it leads us to service of others and the giving up of self desire for the service of others, as love is re-born in us again and again. It purifies our heart and mind making us fit vehicles for the Christ Light and preparing us for the ultimate sacrifice, the giving of our self completely for the purpose of Love.

The Hero’s Journey is not about what you believe. It’s about what you experience and how that transforms you into image and likeness of the Christ.

Jesus models that Journey for us. The Hero’s journey. Let us follow his example. This is what the rising of the dead means!

Amen

The Transfiguration

2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.