Let us pray:
Now, O Lord, calm us into quietness. Take us to that place within You that heals, listens, and molds our longings and passions, our wounds and wanderings, and transforms us into a more holy human shape. For it is in You that we live and move and have our being. Amen.
Today is Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday; in each of the three years of the lectionary cycle, we look at texts about Jesus taking Peter, James, and John up the mountain, where Jesus is transfigured before them. They see him in dazzling white robes, speaking with Moses and Elijah. The Holy Spirit envelops the entire mountaintop in a cloud reminiscent of the cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. There, fearful in the midst of the very presence of the Most Holy, they hear God’s voice thunder, “This is my beloved son, listen to him!”
Every year following this fantastic moment where the veil between heaven and earth seems briefly removed and the Most Holy touches us on Earth, we have Ash Wednesday marking the first day of Lent. Just what is the connection?
Lent is the season in our liturgical calendar encompassing five weeks before Easter. Traditionally, it has been a time of deepened spiritual practice. I wonder if the connection between Transfiguration and Lent is simply this: when we are struck dumb, or blind; or if our eyes are suddenly opened and we see or sense something from the other side of the veil for a moment, maybe our basic human reaction is to realize on some level – “O My God, you really do exist!” After which, our response to that Thin Space moment is to try to find a deeper understanding of our place in the grand design of life and faith with this renewed perspective.
A common traditional practice during Lent to help us focus more on our spiritual life is to give something up that has a strong pull on us, something that may clutter our every-day existence and distract us from noticing God’s presence and activity in our lives. Giving up such things as coffee, deserts, cola products, or for the more technologically hooked, smart phone video games, FaceBook, or some other time-eating habit. Then, every time you crave what it is you are giving up, turn to God in prayer or pick scriptures to read to bend your mind in a spiritual direction.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found it difficult to give something up. In the past, instead of giving something up, I have often invited congregation members where I have preached to take on a new or additional spiritual practice during the Lenten season to help focus on Jesus.
Either way, this year I would like to invite you to put on fresh lenses of faith – however best you think you can do that – and gaze about you in the every day asking our Lord to reveal to you what he is doing. Then take that a step further and ask him how you might join him in his work.
I would be remiss as an educator if I did not mention that one way to assist seeing what the Lord is doing is to read the Bible daily. What can daily reading do for us? It is an opportunity for rich sacred reflection. Lent comes around each year, inviting us to unlock our souls and open the doors of our hearts to what Christ has to teach us. Through reading scriptures daily, we make space for the birthing of a stronger faith, a way to more deeply engage the life of the Spirit. For this year, our denomination is taking an almost daily walk through the Gospel of Mark. Starting with chapter 1 verse 1, they read through it in 40 sections, one a day through Easter morning. If you want to really get a sense of the full story of the Gospel, of the life of Jesus and how our earliest recorded history of his life was remembered, I would invite you to take your Bible and read a section of Mark a day beginning this Wednesday.
It may not sound easy, but taking on this challenge allows us to come along-side Christ in his own journey to the cross. As the editors of Bread and Wine; Readings for Lent and Easter tell us, “Lent,” literally “springtime,” is a time of preparation, a time to return to the desert where Jesus spent 40 days readying for his ministry – a ministry he knew would eventually lead to the cross. Jesus faced his testing; so do we. When our 40 days are up and we face the reality of the empty tomb, what will our mission be?
Jesus sent out the disciples to do the work of the Kingdom of Heaven and gave them the cup of a new covenant at the Last Supper. For us, in Communion, and even with rainbows that still appear for us to this day, we are reminded for all time that we, and indeed all God’s creation under our care, are given a new covenant. In Jesus Christ God has provided for all of us a new beginning. Let this year lead you – lead all of us – to a time of new beginnings.
May all glory be unto the One who lived, died, and rose again for us; even Him who is the Christ. Amen? May it be so.
 Adapted from a poem by Ted Loder