It is all about…
A claim in the mess.
These. Are. The. Connections.
It is all about liberation.
It is all about exodus.
It is all about a new way of being.
It is all about a new society.
It is all about being driven from what was filled with oppression, fear, hopelessness, lifelessness, brokenness, violence, and enslavement.
It is about a leaving of what is… for what can be.
For what can be a new encounter with the Holy…
A coming down deep into the messiness of where we are right now. With the crowds of people seeking love, healing, acceptance, dignity, respect.
A life worth living.
And they. Just. Said. Nothing.
A silent walk. Down. The mountain. And – Peter, James, John – said nothing.
They HAD seen. They HAD known. And they HAD heard. A voice. THAT Voice. And they told no one.
Just WHAT are we supposed to do with THAT? A mystical, nonscientific appearance of the ancient wise ones on a mountain top. Moses. Elijah. An interconnectedness with past, present, and future. The THEN of our past, suddenly intermingled with the NOW of our life with Jesus… and into wherever THAT is leading.
Apparently, we are supposed to “get” it. We are supposed to understand that we are standing in this mysterious place, an “in between place”, a space held open in that rift of time between THEN and NOW—and what can be.
In the cycles of the Church, each year we circle through seasons. Instead of the concept of winter, spring, summer, and fall, our seasons have church words and colors attached to them. If I were to ask you to name the seasons of the church you might come up with Christmas, Easter, Pentecost. Advent. Lent. Last week the sanctuary was draped in the color green, or what we call Ordinary Time. The day-to-day of our faith journey. Suddenly, today, and for just one Sunday, it is the revelation of the Holy in dazzling white. Each season in the church brings its own time of transition. Anticipation. Revelation.
Look around. It is happening again. We, the church, are in the midst of a shift. A transition. A revelation. In the life of the church, we are shifting from the season of Epiphany (which ended last Sunday, or today(ish), depending on how you prefer to classify today’s transfiguration into the shining white of the liturgical snow all around us) and into Lent (for which we are going to eat and celebrate Mardi Gras with King Cakes after worship and shift the colors in this worship space together from white to purple). We are moving from the THEN of seeing God With Us during the season of Epiphany and the eruptions of Holy Ah-Ha’s in our day-to-day lives, to the NOW of walking with Jesus to Jerusalem. We will be walking into what the author of Luke highlights is not just a story of suffering, death, and resurrection, but a story which weaves into our now—pulling together death, resurrection, and ascension, and the pouring out of Spirit. A new thing. A new reality. A transition. A revelation. Maybe even a revolution. But whatever “it” is, it is a shift in what we expected this Holy Stuff to look like.
But we are not. Quite. There. Today. Today we are “in between.” We are here, on the mount with Jesus, experiencing a rift in the time/space continuum. We are at an edge, being led by the Holy from what was THEN into what is NOW. That space in which the revelation of God With Us collides with our need to dig into the muck, walk with Jesus, and find our way to the resurrection that is needed HERE. NOW.
But, we are not there yet.
We need to…Respond. Walk. Down. That mountain. From the brilliance of our comfortable THEN and into the chaos and community of our NOW. We need to shift – from the mountain top with its dazzle and shine, down…to the ground, and into the crowd. Into the NOW of the people that waited for Jesus as he met them where they were in their seeking, questioning, convulsing, uncertain selves. We need to shift. We need to enter the NOW embodied in the chaos, and pushing and pulling, of need and hunger, illness and oppression, power and money. The now of the racism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia of our time and all…the fear. We need to step THERE.
Thus, we cannot stay in the comfort of the mountaintop. God cannot be confined to this one place. God is on the move. Always. Thus we need to stop… and turn… and step in. We… the global human community… need to go another way. A compassionate way. A pausing and listening way. A seeing… really seeing… way. Jesus’ Way. And we need to walk it. Into the crowds. Together.
And as we walk, we need to be aware of God. Deeply aware of God. We need to be “astonished at God’s greatness, God’s majestic greatness.” And in these holy “out-on-the-streets” places with God, we cannot be silent. We must hear. We must speak up. We must show up. We must heal. Because at some point, at some time, these ancient stories were shared.
And they changed lives.
They drove people into new places.
These narratives caused people to dream of a new society.
That leaving of what is… for what can be.
That healing encounter with the Holy.
Full of wonder.
Full of astonishment.
Full of God.
Full of Love.
And so we share stories. Later in the service, the students from East High School will share their story. Their hope. Their anticipation. Their listening… and learning… and the ways in which we can walk together—worlds apart. We have the opportunity to not only learn from them, but to “travel with them” through their experiences. After they return from Kenya later this year they will be coming back to Memorial UCC to tell us about their trip. What they saw. What surprised them. And how they have been transformed.
So come. Let us step THERE. Into the Way. Into the shift. That move away from the kumbaya of the safe, revelatory mountaintop experiences of our lives, and down into the dirt and grit. Let us take that risky first step, let us get off of the mountain, and let us open ourselves to that “in-the-crowd” revelation of God. In the messiness of life, in the uncertainty of the world, let us experience and share the liberating, healing presence… of God.
And let us be astonished.
For God is good all the time.
All the time, God is good.