If you heard a really inspiring Transfiguration Sunday sermon, or, my dear pastor friends, you preached what seemed like a helpful, grace-filled message that day, good on you! I always thought the Transfiguration was a challenge for preaching.
The whole scene- glorious, wonderful as it is – is heavily weighted with Old Testament themes. Moses on the mountaintop, the bright cloud, the appearances of Elijah and Moses (The 6-year-old that still lives inside me still wants to know how they knew that’s who they were; it’s not like they had pictures!). It all requires some kind of explaining, in order to get into what the event might signify. But I’ve never found that explaining to be very helpful, in and of itself.
And then there’s the whole “whiz-bang” nature of it. I mean no disrespect. It’s just SO unusual, SO other-worldly, SO unreal that the very nature of the miracle gets in the way of its relatability. Again, no disrespect intended.
So, as I was thinking about the story, using all my smarty-pants seminary knowledge, trying to fit it into some kind of cognitive whole, I remembered (God reminded me, once again) of the limits of human knowledge and imagination. Of the limits of MY knowledge and imagination!
There I was, caught up in my ego-driven, analytical mind, needing to affirm myself by “getting it”. And then I heard (in my head) an echo of what the voice of God said in the story, “listen”. Although in my head, God said, “Stop thinking, shut up and listen!” But not in a mean way.
God says, “listen.” It doesn’t get much more basic than that. All that smarty-pants analysis has its place, of course. I’m not against study, God knows! But first, we listen. We shut off our analytical, studious brain, quit talking and listen.
And so, there’s my Lenten discipline: to listen to Jesus, while simultaneously releasing my desire to control and comprehend the message. Maybe there will be new ways, or rediscovered old ways for me to hear. Who knows? But I’m committed to paying attention more carefully for the next forty days. It seems doable, but kind of hard – very “Lent-ish”.
Lenten blessings, all.