Mary Ellen Helms, Loveland, OH

Warm-up Question

If you could relive one of your past days over and over again, which day would it be and why?

Best Day Ever

Many of us have had a day or two in our lives that we look back on and think, “Wow! That was the best day ever!”  Maybe it was the perfect summer day where you spent it with friends from early in the day until late in the evening.  Perhaps the “best day ever” included a lot of your favorites: foods, music, people, and more. There’s a chance your best day ever included an amazing accomplishment: passing a difficult test, achieving an athletic accomplishment, producing a school play that received rave reviews, or something equally exciting. Of course,  we can’t easily recall the “best day ever.  Many awesome things happen to us, but part of what makes them special is how rare they are. 

 A quick Google search about “Best Day Ever” provided a variety of results without much substance. There were some academic articles about happiness, some news articles about lottery wins turned bad, and a few ‘feel good’ stories.  There is no one definition of “the best day ever.”

I did learn there is a Spongebob Squarepants episode of the same name.   Wikipedia describes the show in detail!  In the episode, our protagonist (Spongebob) sets off with plans for the BEST DAY EVER but instead, his friends keep needing big favors from him.  In his kind and compassionate way, Spongebob puts his own plans on hold and comes to the aid of Sandy, Patrick, and Squidward.  Feeling sorry for himself at the end of the episode, Spongebob prepares to give a speech about how his friends had taken his BEST DAY EVER and turned it on its head.  Instead, his friends remind him that the perfect day may not exist, instead he spent the day helping others.  Spongebob wraps up the episode singing his song, “The Best Day Ever” over and over again.  When Squidward asks Mr. Krabs how long they have to keep up the performance, Mr. Krabs replies, “Just ’til his little heart gives out, Squidward. Just ’til his little heart gives out.”

Discussion Questions

  • How does SpongeBob Squarepants’ Best Day Ever compare with your own best day?
  • Have you ever had a terrible day turned good?  Has there ever been a day where your expectations were turned completely in another direction? 
  • Through serving others, we often find joy.  Can you describe a time when serving others provided you with a great day?

Transfiguration of our Lord

Exodus 34:29-35

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

I get Peter.  He just says it like it is and really seems like a normal guy.  In verse 33, he says to Jesus “‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”. Peter is having the BEST DAY EVER.  At this point, the disciples have seen Jesus perform miracles, serve the poor, listen to the marginalized, and fulfill prophecy.  Peter is wanting to capture this moment and just stay there as he is having his best day ever.  After a special retreat with Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter wants to keep the miracles happening.  He wants to preserve this moment forever.  Of course, you may know the rest of the story – God speaks, Jesus becomes a little less “shiny”, and they eventually go down the mountain together the next day.

I am sure that many of us who have been on retreats, mission trips, discipleship tours, or to the ELCA Youth Gathering can remember wanting to hold onto the Holy Spirit moments.  I remember coming back from my first Youth Gathering begging my pastor to turn every service into wild, raucous Gathering-style worship with Conga lines, hip hop, and more. My pastor was patient and reminded me, even Jesus came down the mountain.  Real life is waiting for us on the other side of mountaintop experiences.

Jesus, too, had more real life work to do.  In fact, the story immediately following the transfiguration is a healing of a boy who is struggling with a demon.  Jesus still has lots more teaching to do before his death and resurrection.  

Something that does change from this moment on is the understanding and revelation of Jesus’ power to those three disciples. Without a doubt, they remember this moment and I’m sure spent much time pondering the experience in their hearts. I imagine they had trouble talking about what an amazing experience they had shared. My own holiest moments have sometimes left me without words, too. 

Discussion Questions

  • How do you think the disciples felt when Jesus’ appearance changed in front of their very eyes?  How would you have felt?
  • Have you ever had a “mountaintop experience”?  What was it like to experience God in fresh ways?
  • How can you keep experiences like retreats, mission trips, exciting once-in-a-lifetime moments alive after they happen?

Activity Suggestions

  • Plan an amazing mountaintop adventure with your friends (even if it’s just pretend!).  Talk about everything you can do to prepare (the who, what, when, where questions).  How can you build in space for encountering God?  How can you bring your experience home to those who will not join you?
  • Write thank you letters to someone who joined you on a mountaintop experience.  Maybe it was another member of the youth group that left a mark on your heart or an adult guide or service partner.  Give them thanks for their investment in your life and let them know what a difference that opportunity has made for you.

Closing Prayer

Most Holy God, thank you for meeting us on the mountaintops of our lives.  Thank you for showing us your power and majesty in the middle of special experiences that we hold onto tightly.  We ask that you would give us the chance to continue living into these opportunities. Give us memories that last and strength for when life seems like it is more valley than mountain. Help us remember that we are called to come down from the mountain and continue our lives even with renewed purpose.  Amen.