February 24, 2013

The scriptures this Sunday take us back to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.  We read that text a couple weeks ago, for the last Sunday of Epiphany.  This Sunday, we hear it in the context of Lent, a time during which we clean our hearts and prepare our minds for a renewed life.  When Jesus went to the Mount of Transfiguration, it was a Lenten experience for him.  He was about to go into Jerusalem and challenge the religious authorities at the Temple.  He was about to embark on Holy Week—riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, throwing the moneychangers out of the temple, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, experiencing betrayal, instituting the Holy Supper, facing his trail and crucifixion.  To prepare for this overwhelming challenge, Jesus went up a mountain to pray.  Peter, James and John went with him, but they grew sleepy and could hardly stay awake.  To garner strength to face Jerusalem, Jesus called up Moses and Elijah, two exemplars who faced similar challenges.  Peter, James and John wanted to enshrine this "holy moment," but Jesus forbid it.  True holiness, that from which we derive strength to cope with our challenges, cannot be enshrined.
Sunday, we will look at how our holy moments, during our Lenten spiritual times, inspire us and fortify us for the challenges of living.  We will explore what is a "holy moment," how we recognize them, and how to make the most of them.

February 17, 2013

The first Sunday of Lent begins a period of waiting.  We are waiting for Easter.  During Lent, we learn how to wait.  We learn what waiting means.  No matter what our disappointments or struggle in life, through them all we are waiting for God.  Waiting, and preparing our hearts while waiting, is what Lent is all about.  We all experience our Lenten moments at various times in our spiritual journey.
Each year, on the first Sunday of Lent, the scripture asks us to consider the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.  Given that the last petition in the Lord’s Prayer is seeking guidance amidst our own struggles, our testing, our discernment of "evil," I believe this passage has a message for us, today.  The lectionary pairs this story with the Israelites entering the Promised Land, that moment of celebration when their testing was over.  They more than endured the wilderness; they conquered their fears and developed the courage to claim what was already theirs.  This gives us a clue as to the opportunities people have during their hard times.   

Spiritually, Lent is a journey we all take from time to time.  Waiting.  Eating manna in the wilderness while dreaming of eating the fruits of the Promised Land, and celebrating in that anticipation, even when everything in our world is discouraging.
The sermon Sunday will be about patience, confident patience, waiting with patience, knowing that no matter what our struggles, God promises better days.

February 10, 2013

On the last Sunday of Epiphany, the lectionary revisits the "Mount of Transfiguration" story.  Jesus is about to go to Jerusalem.  He knows this will be hazardous, so like Moses and Elijah before him who also had their "transfiguration" moment, Jesus goes up the mountain, a couple of Disciples with him.  There, he calls up Moses and Elijah, and draws from their strength.  The Disciples are so impressed they want to build a shrine.  Jesus forbids it.  Sacred moments cannot be enshrined and locked in memory.