On my trip to the Holy Land, the first week was idyllic. We began in Galilee in a hotel perched on a hillside overlooking the sea. Each morning when we awoke and each night before we turned in, we were treated to a feast from the bounty of the land. If I imagine God’s feast table in heaven, this is what I see. We spent our mornings traveling through the pastoral landscape, the green hills and the blue sea our constant companions. Every day we spent in Galilee was filled with laughter and music, smart conversation and deep kindness. I never wanted to leave that place.
When Peter sees Jesus transfigured into a radiant beam of light, accompanied by Moses and Elijah, he does not want to leave. But there’s some back story here. Six days earlier, Jesus told the disciples that it was time to leave Galilee and go to Jerusalem. Worse, Jesus predicted that he would be tortured and killed. For whatever problems there were in Galilee – the poverty, the oppression, the wandering – it doesn’t seem so bad in the face of losing it, of losing the person you love, the one who has defined your life.
Peter was probably looking for a sign. We’ve all said that prayer at some point: “God just give me a sign that you want me to do the thing I’m going to do anyway.” More often than not, we get that sign because anything can be a sign if you really want it to be. But Peter really gets a sign. Jesus goes all Gandalf the White and Moses and Elijah are there with him, as if to say, See, everything is fulfilled. Complete. Perfect. There is no need to do anything else. Let’s build a tent and camp out here.
God had something else in mind. There was still work to be done, powers to be confronted, people to be saved. The life of faith (hopefully!) contains moments of perfection, moments of sublime beauty and perfect peace. Sacred moments. Holy moments. But those do not exist for themselves or even for us. They exist as a call to get about God’s business. They give us the strength to continue on. They are the memory to which we are faithful and the vision toward which we hope. They give our short lives meaning and purpose. Those moments when God lights up our lives are not to be held onto, but shared, passed along to those who need a little light in their lives, too.
Please join us this Sunday, 11am at Kidd Springs Rec Center, as we turn our faces toward Jerusalem and share a little light. Also, remember that next Wednesday, March 5, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent marks Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and to death, so each year we walk this path ourselves as pilgrims and disciples. Our Ash Wednesday service will be at the Shirleys’, 221 S. Edgefield Ave at 6:30pm.
Grace & Peace,