Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Transfigured--Mark 9:2-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres says: "In the beginning there was nothing. God said, 'Let there be light!' And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better."

In the Church year, this coming Sunday is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, the season of light. Lent, the season of darkness, is quickly approaching. Lent is a journey, and the journey begins next Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. At Westminster, our Ash Wednesday service will begin at 1:15pm with a brief Taize service and the imposition of the ashes.

The ashes remind us that we are taking this Lenten journey with Jesus, a journey that ultimately leads to death--a painful, grotesque death on the cross for Jesus; our ultimate death will hopefully be somewhat less traumatic. Yet it will be distasteful, I'm sure, all the same. This is our fate--Jesus and us.

The last Sunday of Epiphany, just before Ash Wednesday, is Transfiguration Sunday, where we hear this odd story of Jesus, clothed in the brightness of his glory, conversing with Elijah and Moses, while Peter James and John look on in fear and trembling.

Lance Stone, in his article "Christ's Transfiguration, Our Transfiguration" suggests that maybe this story, set in middle of the story of Jesus' life and just before our Lenten journey begins, serves as a reminder that death is not the end of the story. It provides us with a preview of what is to come after this long journey that seems to end so poorly. Perhaps it is a preview to the resurrection. A risen Christ is to be glimpsed here. Perhaps we can catch a glimpse of our own resurrection too.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Out of the Silence--1 KIngs 19:11-13

"God said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Where does God speak in your life?

Elijah is probably my favorite character from the Hebrew scriptures. He was strong and uncompromising in his pursuit of God and his struggle against evil powers. Yet the ancient Jewish writers didn't present a simple, one-dimensional prophet who by the Spirit of God enjoyed unqualified success in his calling. Like most biblical stories, the story of Elijah is textured. There is a darkness to Elijah.

After his triumph over the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel vows to kill Elijah. Afraid for his life, he flees into the wilderness, sits down under a tree and prays to God to die. This prophet who had been so powerful and courageous is now despondent. Full of God-inspired imagination before, Elijah now can see no way out.

God tells Elijah to go stand on the mountain. Violent forces of nature break underneath him and whirl all around him. Yet God is not in these overwhelming demonstrations of power. Rather, it is out of sheer silence that God finally speaks.

If you are like me, and Elijah, then God usually speaks to you out of silence, that place of stillness between hectic pursuits. Silence can be pretty hard to find these days. Hopefully this blog can be a place of silence for you, a place where you can ponder patiently the deeper matters of life and enter into the conversation if you wish to.

So again, where does God speak in your life and how can you find these places more often?