Lent: The Way Home

March 13, 2022
Second Sunday of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are about types of citizenship, that condition of knowing we are fully and irrevocably home.


In Genesis, Abraham is given a land for himself and his descendants as a sign of God’s abiding Presence.

“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”

Genesis 15:5

In Philippians, Paul tells us that, truly, “our citizenship is in heaven”.

But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:20

In Luke, the transfigured Jesus shows us what that heavenly reality will be like. It is a kind of glorious belonging that Peter wants to hold on to … to capture in a tent.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.

Luke 9:28

But the Creator makes it clear this dwelling and citizenship exists only in the heart of Christ where we are called to listen and live our lives.

While Peter was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Luke 9:34-35

These readings confirm that, in God, we are a people not bound by borders, ethnicities, religious cult, or any other human categorization.

Every human being belongs to God and is called to live in the fullness of that Creation. This is our shared Divine citizenship demanding a reverent mutuality for one another’s lives.


Think about that in contrast to the incomprehensible outrage of Putin’s unprovoked war against the Ukrainian people. Think about it relative to the many armed conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin and South America.

Think of our Oneness in God compared to talk of border walls, ethnic and religious bans, white supremacy, anti-semitism, islamophobia and all the other manufactured ways we try to isolate people from this Divine citizenship which makes us brothers and sisters in God.

On this Sunday when our readings remind us of where and to whom each of our hearts belongs, let us pray for our world – for those suffering from war and isolation, and for the unfortunate lost souls executing that suffering. In differing ways, each of them, and we, need continuing redemption.


Poetry: The Man He Killed – Thomas Hardy

Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because –
Because he was my for,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although

He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
Off-hand like – just as I –
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown.


Music: The Sins of War – Timothy Shortell

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Friday, August 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, that moment when the Godly glory of Jesus shone in all its splendor before a few very blessed disciples.

On that blessed day, Peter, James and John went with Jesus to a “very high mountain”. Many scholars identify the site as Mt. Tabor, where the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration is today.

Some theologians suggest that these three disciples were afforded this magnificent gift so that their faith would be sufficiently strengthened to endure the coming sufferings.

“Transfiguration” is a word without a true synonym. It is a unique experience for a being to be completely infused with the glory of God. When this happened to Jesus, something equally unique happened to Peter, James and John as well. They too became new beings, never the same after that glorious and -yes- shocking moment.

Once they descended that mountain, everything changed. In a sense, they too had been “transfigured”. They had seen Jesus clearly in the beauty of his Godliness, and they would now see everything else in that Light.


Sometimes in our lives, God gives us “mini-transfigurations”. Something we had seen only in ordinary terms suddenly becomes an insight into the sacred. It may be a person, a situation, a natural phenomenon. We see through the external trappings and find the glorious Face of God.


Jesus invites us to experience this kind of soul-change by loving God in the poor, sick, uneducated, displaced, suffering, stigmatized people of this world. He asks us to be with them, in word and deed, and to allow God’s light in them to change our hearts and souls.


Poetry: Transfigured – Malcolm Guite

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Music: Transfiguration/We Behold the Splendor of God – Carey Landry (Lyrics below)


[Chorus]

We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of Jesus.
We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of the Son.

[Verse1]

And oh, how his beauty transforms us, the wonder of presence abiding.
Transparent hearts give reflection of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.

[Verse 2]

Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son, oh, how good to be with you;
how good to share your light; how good to share your light

Psalm 97: Majesty

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

August 6, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this glorious Feast of the Transfiguration, we pray with Psalm 97 which prophesies the messianic era when God will reign supreme over the earth. Its verses announce God’s sovereignty, establishment of justice, and universal joy.

Transfiguration by Giovanni Bellini

Our Gospel describes the moment when Jesus gave his three disciples a glimpse of that future glory in order to sustain them through the sufferings to come.


As we pray Psalm 97 today, we might think of our experiences of God’s beauty, tenderness, and joy. Remembering and storing these small, accumulated revelations helps us to hold faith in times of darkness or trouble.

In Martin Luther King’s final speech the night before he was assassinated, he spoke of his own such transfiguring moments and the courageous faith they inspired in him:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.


Also in our prayer today, we are mindful of the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an event which represents the complete inversion of God’s will for the Peaceful Kingdom. 

Majesty, turned inside out by our sin, becomes terror.

Robert Oppenheimer, one of the designers of the atomic bomb, reflecting on the bomb’s first test, said that as he watched the huge blast wave ripple out over the New Mexico desert, a line from the Hindu scripture Bhagavad Gita came to mind: “Now I am become Death the Destroyer of Worlds.


Psalm 97 reminds us that all Creation belongs to God:

The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many islands be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him,
justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.

If, by faith, we learn to see and reverence God’s glory in all things, we can be delivered from the terrors of war, racism, and every other deathly weapon which threatens us. As Psalm 97 so encouragingly closes:

You who love the LORD, hate evil,
God protects the souls of the faithful,
rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the just,
and gladness for the honest of heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.


Poetry: Origami by Joyce Sutphen 

In Hiroshima’s Peace Park there is a statue of Sadako Sasaki lifting a crane in her arms. Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped; she was diagnosed with leukemia ten years later. The Japanese believe that folding a thousand origami cranes brings good fortune. Sadako spent the last months of her young life folding hundreds of paper cranes. She folded 644 before she died.


Origami

It starts
with a blank sheet,
an undanced floor,
air where no sound
erases the silence.

As soon as
you play the first note,
write down a word,
step onto the empty stage,
you've moved closer
to the creature inside.

Remember—
a square
can end up as frog, cardinal,
mantis, or fish.
You can make
what you want,
do what you wish.

Music: Our God Reigns – James Kilbane

How lovely on the mountains

Are the feet of him

Who brings good news,good news

Announcing peace, proclaiming

News of happiness.

Our God reigns; our God reigns!

Chorus:

Our God reigns!

Our God reigns!

Our God reigns!

Our God reigns!

He had no stately form;

He had no majesty,

That we should be

drawn to Him.

He was despised,

and we took no account of Him,

Yet now He reigns

With the Most High.

Out of the tomb He came

With grace and majesty;

He is alive, He is alive.

God loves us so see here His hands,

His feet, His side.

Yes, we know

He is alive.

It’s Your Turn!

Second Sunday of Lent

March 8, 2020

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, as I prayed with these readings, I heard the words “It’s your turn.”

In our passage from Genesis, it’s the message God gives Abram:

Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house
to a land that I will show you.

In other words, I have reached from my Infinite Perfection to call you into a covenant of love. Now, it’s your turn to leave your comfort zone and go find my hope for you and for my people.


In Timothy’s letter, the call comes in this form:

Bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

Again Timothy tells us that Christ carried the cross so that we could have eternal life. It’s our turn now to bear any cross all the way to the empty tomb.


And in our Gospel, the just transfigured Jesus calls his beloved disciples to a new courage:

“Rise, and do not be afraid.”

In other words.. things are going to get really tough. You have just seen a Glorious Light that will take you through the darkness. It’s your turn to walk beside me on the coming journey.


Folded in each of these messages is the implication that, although challenges may come, a stronger commitment to God and God’s hope is being opened before each listener — before us.

its ur turnJPG

Scripture records the long, ensuing story of Abram’s response. We know, too, how Timothy’s early Christian community turned persecution into indomitable witness. And the commitment of Peter, James, and John built the foundation of our faith.


Every morning when God wakes us up, the Holy Voice shining in the morning light whispers, “It’s your turn. Today will be part of your journey into my Heart. How will you respond to the many calls being offered you?”

Let this “Transfiguration Moment” give us brave, loving, and insightful hearts! Let us walk the path Christ would walk, especially as we deepen into the lovely blessings of Lent.

Music:  Transfiguration – Carey Landry

We behold the splendor of God
shining on the face of Jesus.
We behold the splendor of God
shining on the face of the Son.

And oh, how his beauty transforms us,
the wonder of presence abiding.
Transparent hearts give reflection
of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.

Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son,
oh, how good to be with you;
how good to share your light;
how good to share your light.

We behold the splendor of God
shining on the face of Jesus.
We behold the splendor of God
shining on the face of the Son.

And oh, how his beauty transforms us,
the wonder of presence abiding.
Transparent hearts give reflection of
Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.

Jesus, Lord of Glory,
Jesus, Beloved Son,
oh, how good to be with you;
how good to share your light;
how good to share your light.

By Faith …Listen!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, we have a flash back to Hebrews from a few weeks ago, and we have the account of the Transfiguration. How might these readings be related?

Hebrews seems to be a perfect summary and complement to the Genesis readings of the last few weeks. Paul ties together the faithful testimonies of the ancestors:

  • By faith Abel offered to God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s.
  • By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death.
  • By faith Noah, warned about what was not yet seen, with reverence built an ark.

Heb11_1_7

In Mark’s Gospel of the Transfiguration, Peter, James and John become the new “faithful ancestors”. Jesus relies on their faith for the foundation of the Church. Therefore, God allows them to experience the Glorified Christ so that their faith can sustain them through the coming Passion and Death.

All these witnesses encourage us to examine our faith. It has already carried us through many challenges in life. Remembering God’s past fidelity to us can strengthen us and help us focus on what is most important for a joyful life.

God’s voice from the cloud offered perfect advice to the three astounded disciples.

This is my beloved Son.
Listen to him.

Let’s open our hearts to listen to Jesus in prayer, scripture and the always deeply graced circumstances of our lives.

Music: I Will Listen ~ Twila Paris