Skip to main content

Spiritual Alchemy

The narrative lectionary reading for this upcoming Sunday is from Mark 9:1-8.  It is the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus.  Jesus takes 3 of the disciples up to the top of a mountain, where they have a vision of Jesus speaking to Moses and Elijah.  All three are dazzling white in appearance.  When Peter offers to make memorials for them, a voice from a cloud speaks to them, stating "This is my son, marked by my love.  Listen to him!".  Then the vision ends and they see only Jesus, and Jesus tells them to keep it to themselves until after his resurrection. 

As I read this story in preparation for Transfiguration Sunday, and the coming Easter season, I am struck by the context of what happened just before this.  Jesus is walking with the disciples and asks them "Who do people say that I am?".  The disciples share some of the rumors they have heard and then Jesus asks "Who do you say that I am?".  Peter, impulsive as ever, speaks out "You are the Christ!".  Proclaiming Jesus as the long awaited messiah, the anointed one, the King.  Jesus tells them to keep that to themselves and begins teaching them about the need for the messiah to suffer and die rather than conquer and rule. 

Jesus' teaching must have been gloomy, and hard to hear.  He was destroying the hope his disciples had in the coming kingdom.  Instead of proclaiming a new rule, and freedom from the oppressors, he was telling them that the oppressors would win, and that the long awaited king of the Jews would be defeated.  In frustration Peter pulls Jesus aside and rebukes him for all the negative talk.  Jesus replies "Get behind me Satan!". 

Six days after this, Jesus takes Peter and 2 other disciples up the mountain to see the transfiguration.  Can you imagine how Peter was feeling as he was climbing the mountain?  His hopes are crushed, he has been publicly rebuked and shamed as the enemy (Satan was the word for adversary).  His Master, his best friend was talking about his coming death, and wouldn't listen to reason.  The movement to overthrow the oppressors was over, his leader had given up.  But then, at the top of the mountain, Jesus shows him something new.  A glimpse into a future that he can't quite understand.  Peter witnesses the future Jesus, the Christ glorified and talking with the 2 largest figures in Jewish history, Moses and Elijah.  Peter is so excited, his faith and hope are restored.  As he comes back to himself he interrupts the moment, impulsively offering to make a memorial.  Jesus must have smiled to himself thinking "Ah, there you are, Peter, my old friend". 

It took a miracle for Peter to see the light in Jesus again, but Jesus could see deeper.  Jesus knew the light in Peter was still there.  That even in the face of such a hard truth, Peter would shine again.  May you see the light of Christ, even in the darkest moments of your life, and may you be given eyes to see the light within yourself, even when it seems unreachable.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Prayer Part 2 of 4

  This is the second of four weeks the narrative lectionary is focusing on the Lord's Prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  This week we are focusing on the second section: "Give us this day our daily bread." At the time and place that Jesus said this, bread was the center of every meal.  To his people, it had a long history of being a symbol for God's provision.  It was often used to refer to any meal or food, and in this case Jesus expands it to represent all of our needs.   A long time ago, in a place that had been ravaged with war, orphanages were overwhelmed with children.  In one of the facilities, the relief workers noted that the children had trouble falling asleep each night.  They struggled with anxiety, wondering if they would have food for the next day.  Their lack of sleep led to more anxiety and a troubling downward spiral of their mental and physical health.  In an effort to meet their needs the workers tried something new one night.  As they tucked each chi