When I was a little girl, my Dad kept trying to sit me down to watch a specific film that he loved. 

His synopsis was that it was about a group of children who walk up a mountain in Austria. 

Now, from this synopsis you may have already worked out which film he was talking about.  Don’t worry if not, all will be revealed!

My Dad liked to watch documentaries about volcanoes and mountain hikers, and they normally had a narrator with a monotone voice talking about the oxygen levels in the air and the temperature increases near the lava.

None of this was of interest to me as a young girl.

So, you can imagine that it took quite a long time for my Dad to finally convince me to watch a film about these children walking up the Austrian mountains.

Yet, the Sound of Music remains one of my favourite films to this day.

On my childhood family holidays to the Lake District, I would twirl around the hills; ignoring the other people around me, totally immersed in my imagination – I was Sister Maria on that hill, and I would sing:

The hills are alive with the sound of music

With songs they have sung for a thousand years

The hills fill my heart with the sound of music

My heart wants to sing every song it hears

The idea that the hills could be alive, and were filled with songs and music, was mesmerising to me.  It led me to ask…

Did the music come from those who had previously journeyed over the hills?  The songs from the past echoing along the landscape – songs about love and loss; joy and sadness. 

Or did the music come from God? 

When the clouds and the hill tops meet, did God’s melodical voice reverberate into the rocks, the earth, the grass, the trees, the brooks?

If it was God’s voice that reverberated into the hills…and I stood on those hills…did God’s voice reverberate into me; reminding me of who I am, allowing me to retreat into his comfort?


I go to the hills when my heart is lonely

I know I will hear what I’ve heard before

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music

And I’ll sing once more

We watched the Sound of Music on Thursday at our Warm Welcome Film Night and it reminded me of how precious those hill-top moments are – where we are transported away from the day-to-day hustle and are reminded that God’s voice reverberates in us. 

And this helpful reminder beautifully coincides with Transfiguration Sunday.

Only a few days before Jesus led Peter, James, and John up the mountain, he had foretold his death and resurrection.  Peter did not want to believe it; having only recently declared Jesus as Christ, the Son of the living God.  

So, Jesus takes the three men up the mountain – away from the noise and distraction of the world.

Their friend, their Rabbi, not only changes before their eyes but Moses and Elijah return:

Moses – who led the people out of Egypt, who shared God’s Law, whose body was never found.

Elijah – who was God’s Prophet, who challenged tyrants, who went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

This momentary vision of glory looks like the resurrection and ascension – but there has been no death…not yet. 

Peter, James, and John had not grasped what Jesus had already foretold about his death and resurrection, so this vivid, glorious, magnificent visual encounter of Jesus shining brightly sought to help the disciples hold onto hope in the darkness that is to come.

Yet Peter is so desperate to hold onto this moment; he didn’t want it to end. 

This mountain is clearly alive with the sound of music, with people they have talked about for a thousand years!

And then the clouds and the hill-top meet.

And God’s voice resounds clearly.

Repeating His words from Jesus’ Baptism: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

But there’s more…  God says:

Listen to Him!

Jesus already tried to explain what was to come, his death and resurrection,

But this was lost in the noise and the distractions. 

So, he withdraws Peter, James, and John to the mountain; away from the distractions – and God’s voice reverberates in the disciples.

Because, it’s not about staying on that mountain, but what the disciples hold onto when they’re down the mountain.

Difficult times are coming for Peter, James, and John – they need to remember to sing:

I go to the hills when my heart is lonely

I know I will hear what I’ve heard before

My heart will be blessed with the sound of music

And I’ll sing once more

So, what about us?

When we are struggling with the noise around us, when we’ve forgotten how to listen to God – where do we go so that we can carry on in this life and sing once more?

Unfortunately, we don’t have any hills in Leytonstone.  The London Hikers group put together a list of hills that Londoner’s could easily access; but the nearest being in the South Downs or North Downs.

Not that easy to access every time we want to listen to God!

So, where are our metaphorical hills?

The ‘still places’ that we find it easier to listen to God; where we hear the sound of His music; where His voice can reverberate in us so that we can return into the world feeling refreshed and ready to respond?

My metaphorical hills are…

  • My hammock in the garden – when the weather is mild, I lay in the hammock and just rock silently.
  • When the weather is cold and wet, then I sit in my armchair in a secluded area of my house.
  • Just sitting in silence, away from the distractions of emails, people, my dogs
  • I normally go with lots of questions and requests, but what I get is God’s presence…I get stillness.
  • I feel like I’m re-tuned; or that I’m back in rhythm.
  • I can return to the world and respond differently.

When Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain, it was to prepare them for what was to come – it was to enable them to have hope, but to also be re-tuned and put back into the rhythm of God’s reverberating sound.

To be re-tuned or put back into the rhythm of God’s sound can be difficult to unpack, because I think it’s unique for all of us.

However, I think the Prophet Micah explains it beautifully – He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

We are heading into a new season at St Andrew’s –

Father Paul will be balancing the needs of our church alongside the Cathedral.

Mother Jane will be balancing her new job alongside our Sunday services.

and I will be balancing the responsibilities that come with being a curate.

What will you be trying to balance in this new season?

My suggestion for us all, is to use Lent to retreat to our metaphorical hills – so that our hearts are filled with the sound of God’s voice reverberating in us, and through us. 

And so, we arrive at Easter ready to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God – whatever this might look like for each of us, and for St Andrew’s.

The Rev Sarah Moss