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Book Release: “Christmas On Mount Mystic”

Another one of my passion projects. Not a “real” book release, but I’ve just finished up compiling my Advent Reflections and sermon series from last year into a fun little keepsake volume as well as to share with anyone interested. Email me if you want me to order you a copy.

Then today I somehow narrated, edited and produced an entire audio version to have it available on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Looking to get into my strange mind, and meet a fictional friend I made named Amanda? This is one of those writing projects that was undertaken mostly for my own enrichment. I really inhabited the story of the Transfiguration, and my Christmas Eve sermon on the “Two Stars” is one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever done. Oh, and I snuck in a very personal postscript – “Confession & Apology” – for those who make it to the end. The entire thing dedicated to my mentor and friend, Keith Meyer.

So check it out. As a bonus, I adapted a piece of Isaak’s (8 year old) artwork for the cover which I think is cool! Here’s the front and back cover, and the foreword below:

FOREWORD
For me, Advent is a season tinged with awe and wonder. The enemy of the season is the tyranny of less important commitments that threaten to steal away our time and prevent us from staring at the lights on the Christmas tree, pondering the Star of Bethlehem, imagining ourselves into the shoes of the shepherds and wise men, marveling together with Mary and Joseph, and rediscovering the childlike wonder that haunts this season.

For this reason, my Advent sermon series often have a theme of escape—to the cabin, to the mountain, to the rooftop—to anywhere we might have a better view of the light that has pierced the darkness and snuck into our neighborhoods in the boy in the manger. I invite you to fight the tyranny of busyness this holiday season with me and try to find your way to both the Mountain and the Manger where you can once again hear and feel, taste and touch, the magic of the Greatest Story Ever Told.

I have spent much of the past year meditating on the accounts of the Transfiguration found in Matthew, Mark and Luke. The scene is full of awesome wonder, dazzling light, visitors from the past, divine electricity and unanswered questions. I have usually approached this peculiar episode in Jesus’ life as a detached observer. This time, however, I have found myself wanting to enter into the mystical experience of the disciples and behold the light of glory. What does it mean to enter that mysterious cloud of God’s presence? Can I find my own small part in the Eternal drama starring Moses, Elijah and Jesus? What might it mean for me to be guided by the Voice that speaks from within the Cloud?

I began to make connections between the magic and mystery revealed in the Manger and the glory revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration. This observation led me to the Advent sermon series I titled Christmas on Mount Mystic. In hopes of making this ancient account more relatable to my congregation, I created a fictional character named Amanda who would experience her own account of the strange aspects of the Transfiguration story at a fictional retreat location called Mount Mystic. Each Sunday I would read an excerpt from Amanda’s retreat journal, detailing some fantastic experience during her stay on Mount Mystic. 

Sadly, I did not record or write down my actual “sermons” for this series preached in the warm and cozy 1888 chapel at St. Martin’s By the Lake in Minnetonka Beach, Minnesota. What follows are some of Amanda’s journal entries and some of my Mount Mystic Meditations published on my blog between Sundays that capture some of the themes of those sermons. These meditations were written in the midst of pandemic policies and debates, mask and vaccine wars, political rancor and conspiracy theories, and my pastoral perspective comes through in these.

Let this little book be a personal invitation to your own deeper meditation on this remarkable revelatory moment in the lives of these three disciples. The following vignettes do not aim to provide practical spiritual advice; they attempt to evoke a sense of awe and wonder—to be blinded by the light, swept up into the ancient Story, enveloped by a mysterious Cloud, to hear the Voice ourselves. Then when the cloud lifts and the last candles are extinguished on Christmas Eve, perhaps we will be sent back down from this mountaintop experience with a deeper sense of his guiding and abiding presence with us the rest of the year. 

As it often is with spiritual mystics, not everyone is ready to behold such things. Some are still asleep to the Majestic and others are still too afraid to enter the mysterious Cloud. But the promise remains: “When they became fully awake, they saw his glory (Luke 9:32). Do you long to have a deeper experience of God? Might there be a part of your soul afraid of  coming out of hiding and into the blinding light of a more dynamic spiritual existence?  Are we even able to behold God’s glory? Moses wasn’t. The Israelites couldn’t. Still I can’t resist wondering what it might mean for us to “become fully awake” and in “see his glory” in our own lives this Advent season. Will you join me and test the theory?

I dedicate this volume to my friend and mentor, Keith Meyer, who has been a guide for me into the foothills of the mystical tradition and who recently piqued my interest in 2 Peter 1 and its lesser known portrayal of the Transfiguration. Keith is helping me and others become more fully awake to the glory of the manger, the mountain, and the morning star who wants to rise ever higher in our hearts.

LISTEN HERE.

Dr. Jeremy Berg is the founding and Lead Pastor of MainStreet Covenant Church in Minnetonka Beach, MN, where he has served since 2010. He is an Adjunct Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Bethel University, University of Northwestern—St. Paul, North Central University, and Solid Rock Discipleship School. Jeremy earned a doctorate in New Testament Context under Scot McKnight at Northern Seminary (Chicago). He and his wife, Kjerstin, have three kids, Peter, Isaak and Abigail.

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