Friday, February 12, 2010
Sticks out like a sore thumb
This Sunday, our scripture is from Luke chapter 9, titled The Transfiguration. This scripture is always placed before us on our church calendar so that we read and examine it on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the Sunday before we begin the season of Lent. Consequently, the sermon is often about mountaintop experiences, the children's sermon is about Jesus' dazzling clothes.. and if you are like me, you dread the whole thing.. thinking, "Oh, not that crazy scene from scripture again." And we hold our breath until next week, when we can finally get on to the more realistic, "meatier" business of Lent.
It is unfortunate that Transfiguration Sunday sticks out on the church calendar like an odd iridescent, glowing, thumb... It really ought to be respected for what it truly is: An important stepping stone for us as we head into the next 40 days of Lent.
(FYI on Lent: Lent is the season before Easter when, in 40 days, we come to terms with whatever it is in our spirits that is keeping us from Loving God and neighbor. It is a time when we turn our hearts toward God. When we ask God to get rid of the sin within us. Sometimes we give up a bad habit or secret pleasure during Lent, as a way not just to break the habit, but to force our whole self into reality that we don’t belong to ourselves, we belong to God.)
So, this strange scripture that we read ever year at this time, right before Lent, is actually full of meaning for us heading into a season of repentance, a season of Lent.
Why? Well, because when Jesus headed up the mountain to pray, it wasn’t for just his regular prayer time.. if Jesus ever HAD plain old regular prayer time like the rest of us, this prayer time was different. Because he was praying about what lay ahead of him. A painful death by crucifixion.
Reminds me of that question sometimes people ask, What would you do if you knew you had only two months left to live? And people say things like, I’d skydive. What did Jesus do? He gathered with friends and prayed for strength, for guidance, for fortitude.
What is different about Jesus knowing he only has a couple months left to live.. and that pretend scenario, is that if the scenario is to be asked the way that Jesus was being presented with it, the question for you and I would be..
What would you do if you knew you had only two months left?
And that you would die in a torture chamber, beaten, mocked and then killed the most slow painful death??
Posed that way, we don’t really think so much about skydiving, huh?
Only when we think about it this way, do we begin to understand why he went up that mountain.. and only then do we get a glimpse, not just of the radiating face of Jesus - but the dazzling prescence of God who gives strength, guidance, fortitude to the Christ who will suffer for us.