Transfiguration and Ash Wednesday
Mark 9:2-9 (The Message)
2-4Six days later, three of them did see it. Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. His clothes shimmered, glistening white, whiter than any bleach could make them. Elijah, along with Moses, came into view, in deep conversation with Jesus.
5-6Peter interrupted, “Rabbi, this is a great moment! Let’s build three memorials— one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking, stunned as they all were by what they were seeing.
7Just then a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and from deep in the cloud, a voice: “This is my Son, marked by my love. Listen to him.”
8The next minute the disciples were looking around, rubbing their eyes, seeing nothing but Jesus, only Jesus.
9-10Coming down the mountain, Jesus swore them to secrecy. “Don’t tell a soul what you saw. After the Son of Man rises from the dead, you’re free to talk.” They puzzled over that, wondering what on earth “rising from the dead” meant.
After last Sunday’s worship services that I preached at, and then chapel at Saint Paul in Kansas City this week, I’ve been thinking about transfiguration in both the scripture and how it appears to us today. I’ve been thinking about changes in my life and ministry, and how I can look for my “mountain top experience” that will give me some guidance. I’m working to understand how to recognize transfiguration around me.
I’m not entirely sure why, but the sermon in chapel by Dr. Susan Smith this week really brought to the forefront of my thoughts many ideas and questions. I realized the importance of this moment in scripture in relation to the greater narrative of Jesus. I recognized the importance of the guidance and words of those who came before us, and how faith can help wrestle through so many ambiguous situations.
When talking about the ministry of Jesus to this point, Dr. Smith pointed out the human nature of Jesus that we can all easily relate with. I am paraphrasing since I was trying to take notes and listen, but the main point will be the same. She said, “He was familiar with his surroundings. He thought that this ministry would be how it was going to be, but the nudge came along and forced him to look the other way.” I am perplexed by this idea of Jesus being content where he was, and feeling like this was okay to stay put. However, he knew what was right when he was called and continued on to his eventual death and resurrection. As I’ve blogged about recently, I’m struggling with defining and seeking out my ministry calling. This idea that when the nudge forces you to look another direction, you should recognize where it’s leading you and go both excites and frightens me. The thought of sacrificing everything because you were guided to it, is an awe inspiring thought. Jesus did this, and forever changed humanity.
I’m sure the human side of Jesus had his doubts. In fact, that was the point in the sermon that made it very real. The appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus on the mountain top shows this guidance for Jesus. They were guiding Jesus to Jerusalem and his death. Dr. Smith related it to them saying, “It will be okay, Jesus. Go to Jerusalem.” I guess I’m looking for my Moses and Elijah right now. I’m searching for those people in my life whose opinions I value the most, to just tell me that “It will be okay, maybe not easy, but okay. God is calling you in this direction.” There is so much uncertainty in ministry, especially when you feel called to areas that are less than traditional settings. I am starting to feel like I might have found a good direction, but just don’t know what it’s like to “know.”
I know I’m called to be a pastor in some form. I want the church to reach out to people, make them feel loved and accepted, and be intentional in working to limit the hurt the church does in society. I want there to be a day where more people are comfortable around a pastor and church than there are people who are uncomfortable. I want to meet people were they are, because that is were God already is. I don’t believe in a philosophical God who looks over us, I believe in an active, working God amongst the people. God will always be shown to us no matter how uncomfortable we may be with the situation or people, God is Love and Love is for ALL!
I hope and pray for each of you to find your mountain top experience. As we begin this time of Lent, we remember Jesus’ journey, ministry, and faith. In Dr. Smith’s words, “God’s intention for us is beyond mortality.” We are love, called, and guided into action by God. This work goes well past our physical lives, but it needs to be done for those who follow. Maybe one day one of us will the Moses or Elijah to someone.
Keep searching for the mountain top experience, because that will enable you to go back in the valley and serve!
Grace and Peace,