Yesterday was Transfiguration Sunday. Many churches read that story on the Sunday before Lent begins. It is an account of Jesus preparing himself for the journey to the cross, and it is an invitation for us to do the same. Lent begins on Wednesday. Are you ready to seriously engage your faith in a time of renewal?
Jesus took Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray with him. Now, some of us may think Jesus is playing favorites and giving those three special treatment. Perhaps that is true, but Jesus’ most common title was rabbi or teacher, and, in my classes, the students who got extra attention from the teacher often were the ones who were slower learning their lessons.
In the South, we didn’t envy those students as special. In fact, though I’m not sure about James and John, I am almost certain that every time Jesus looked at Peter he would say in Aramaic, “Bless your heart.”
Although I’m unclear about the profound theological meaning of what happened on the mountain that day, I am pretty clear that Peter’s response was a “Bless your heart” moment. He wanted to build something in the clouds that would allow them to stay right where they were, but Jesus insisted that they needed to go back down to the valley.
This was true even though Jesus knew that things weren’t going to turn out well for him. For Jesus, the call of God wasn’t to the easy way of spiritual piety; rather, he withdrew to pray and worship and hear from God and the law and prophets, so that he could return to the valley to heal and help, feed and fix.
Because the church is the risen Body of Christ, that same pattern is ours to follow. We, too, gather on the mountain and listen to Moses and Elijah; we come to this special place to hear the voice of God call us “Beloved.” Having heard and felt that affirmation, we return to the valley of life to live as the Body or Christ in the world.
I invite you to commit to worshiping EVERY week during Lent this year. Come apart to the mountain to charge your batteries for the journey with Jesus. Will the discipline of faithfulness make a difference? We’ll never know until someone tries.