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, I pause to wonder, will this be the year for us? Will this be the time and place when the Most Holy breaks through and touches us on Earth in a more profound encounter? Dare we hold our collective liturgical breath to wait and see what the Lord has in store for us? Can we still our busy lives for a moment and just listen? What might we hear? The very heartbeat of God as John did reclining against Jesus at the table? How might the Lord speak to us, here in this place, in this time? And how might we respond faithfully in this renewing moment?
The liturgical season of Lent comes directly on the heals of Transfiguration Sunday for a purpose. In the church calendar, Lent is a season of introspection leading us up to and through the events of Holy Week: when Jesus enters Jerusalem for the last time, is arrested, tried, convicted, crucified, laid in a tomb, culminating in Easter’s resurrection miracle. It remembers and mirrors the time Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to prepare to launch his public ministry – a ministry he new meant going against the grain of his faith’s contemporary practices in relationship to God and one another, as well as his ultimate test of obedience upon the cross. We too face tests; some similar even to these. Every week, every month, every year; even every day sometimes we struggle to live obedient to God’s higher calling for our lives.
Observing the 40 days of Lent for us might look like several things, both personally and communally. It could be a celebration of dying moments wherein we give up those things that lead us away from God. It could be a deepening engagement with scriptures, devotional reading, and/or spiritual practices or disciplines we don’t ordinarily incorporate into our daily lives. It could a time preparing us to face, with the disciples, Holy Week and the final journey of Jesus to his cross even while we simultaneously contemplate our own metaphorical journeys and crosses. It could be many things.
It could be preparation for that moment when we lift up our own lives anew with Jesus, and with him, find ourselves being lifted up to new life in Christ with each other. What if Lent – marking and overlapping Spring’s new beginnings in the Earth, were also the season for each of us to re-envision growth for the coming year? What new beginnings might we envision as members of Christ’s body in the world today?
Allyson, Carolyn and I attended the kick-off retreat Friday and Saturday for a year-long cohort exploring intergenerational formation practices. At the heart of this cohort is a desire to re-examine the core foundation of what it means to be the whole church, together. At the local level, this means being the whole church together, engaging in purposeful faith formation across generational lines. Or, to rephrase that, to my mind it is exploring what it means to experience together authentic spiritual community for all ages.
For us as Christians, formation means being made, formed, and re-formed into a community of practice centered in making ourselves more and more Christlike. I submit a mature understanding means embodying Christ: to one another within these four walls, to others outside these four walls, in short to all others no matter what walls they may have built around themselves or taken pains to break down from around themselves and others. It means being the hands and feet of Christ in the world. To that end, how might we embody expressions of greater compassion, greater love, and greater welcoming to others outside of ourselves?
It also means, what parts of me need to be re-formed into the image of Christ; how might my thoughts, decisions, actions, activities, and experiences reflect more fully the life of Christ to one another and the world? After all, in the 7th sign of John’s Gospel Jesus said to Martha before raising Lazarus from the dead, and as a prefiguration of his own impending journey to the cross, “I am the resurrection and the life. … Do you believe this?”
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.
Questions for Reflection
Look at Luke 9:35: “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Where have you heard words like these before in the Gospels? (Hint: see Luke 3:22.) Where have you heard words like these in your own life? When have you had a strong sense of being chosen, claimed, and called by God? How have you responded?
Household Prayer: Morning
Lord Jesus Christ, as morning dawns, be our light in this new day. Let our lives reflect your glory, our words show forth your goodness, and our actions shine with your grace; in your holy name we pray. Amen.
Household Prayer: Evening
Lord Jesus Christ, as evening comes, be our light and hope in darkness. Draw near to us in grace, surround us with your presence, and fill us with your peace; in your holy name we pray. Amen.
 Adapted from a poem by Ted Loder