Sunday, March 2, 2014
Transfiguration's Cold Sunday
Sometimes, things aren't always as they seem at first glance.
Or more likely, the picture we have in our mind for a certain day or job or relationship, or Sunday morning worship, our ideal - our hope - doesn't pan out the way we hoped or expected.
Here we are - again, the first Sunday of the month with bad weather. Weather that keeps us away, rightfully, from driving and being together in community. Weather that blankets the streets and our homes and walkways. Weather that terrorizes, a winter that has lasted way too long.
This morning (even while we're ice bound) we're being led up the mountain with Jesus, a high mountain. And perhaps we're not feeling like we want to go anywhere. Perhaps Jesus has to drag us up the mountain, perhaps we can't even hear Jesus beckoning us forward with him.
Maybe we've been so overcome with sickness and grief and loss that we can't move away from our own tears.
Maybe we've been turned down from one job after another and we just can't bear another rejection.
Maybe we've gone from doctor to doctor looking for answers and we can't handle any more changes in medicines or another diagnosis or the ongoing barage of tests and questions.
Maybe we can't bear to see another storm of ice and rain and snow and ice and rain and snow.
Maybe we've been studying so much and reading so much and we just can't get our minds wrapped around the lessons.
Maybe we've been running from lesson to lesson and practice to practice and work and home and school, and we just can't take any more steps.
Maybe we just can't figure out what to do with our future.
But we are led up the mountain this morning, with Jesus, Peter and James.
And here on the mountain Jesus is transfigured before them. Jesus is transformed. On the mountain. A beautiful scene in which the disciples are so moved that they want to build dwelling places on that mountain and remain there with Jesus. Their eyes have been opened and they want to remain in the glory they have witnessed. But Jesus tells them no. They must leave the mountain top.
"The story of the Transfiguration is not simply about learning to leave the mountaintop, or about releasing what we have grown attached to. It’s not just about resisting our desire to turn moments of transcendence into monuments. The story of the Transfiguration is about opening our eyes to glory, allowing that glory to alter us, and becoming willing to walk where it leads us. The story urges us to trust that what we have seen, what we have known, will go with us. It assures us that the gifts received on the mountaintop will continue to illuminate us not only on level ground but even when we walk in the valley of the shadow" (Jan Richardson)
Once we've been dragged up the mountain and have seen the glory of God, we are transformed. Not by anything we've done or who we are, but because of the presence of Jesus. The experience we have on the mountain doesn't depend on the mountain, but on the abiding presence of Jesus who not only is with us on the mountain but is the One who walks us up the mountain and back down again into those valleys and shadows and darkness. Into the everyday realities of life. Jesus' light shines and we trust that Jesus is with us.
On this Sunday coming close to the eve of Lent, we stand before the light of Christ knowing that we must follow into temptation and darkness on the way to the cross. We gather on Wednesday to be marked with a cross of ashes, and to follow towards the One who has already claimed us with the cross at our baptism. Jesus who calls us forward to see the light.
And so that's where I want to stay this morning, not on the mountain; No, but rather I want to stay and dwell in the persistent invitation from Jesus to go up the mountain, to be with us in light, and to walk with us down to the trenches of life. I want to stay in his unending invitation to bear witness to the light of Christ. To Jesus constantly dragging us towards him.
I want to live in the unexpected blessings that come from Jesus' call to venture forward to places that are unknown. I want to live in the journey upwards where sometimes the path is rocky and only bearable with the company of friends.
Some things aren't always as they seem at first glance.
For here we are, surrounded by the light of one another. Stronger because of one another's faith.
Jesus' invitation to each of us; Jesus who calls us to follow doesn't call us to places in which he won't walk himself. Jesus who meets us in our pain and loss and doubt invites us to life and light, Jesus who knows the crosses we bear and binds them to himself. Jesus who gives us one another.
Jesus who reminds us that his glory is all around. That we can join in the blessing,
"That when glory comes
we will open our eyes
to see it.
That when glory shows up
we will let ourselves
not by fear
but by the love
That when glory shines
we will bring it
back with us
all the way
all the way
all the way down" (Jan Richardson)