Dear Christ Church Family,
Most of these Daily Devotionals have been written with the current crisis in mind; hoping to help us all find a more spiritual and healing way to deal with it. Today, though, I hope that we can turn for a few moments and remember that this is still the Holy Season of Lent; a time most especially to deepen our loving friendship with Jesus. The Gospel reading today is from Mark’s account of the Transfiguration. That event transformed the Disciples. It can do the same for you and me.
Friday, March 27, 2020 RCL Daily Office Readings, Year 2
The Transfiguration: A Truly Lenten Message from Jesus. What shall we make of this Transfiguration? Why did it happen? That’s the question. After all, Jesus was not one to go in for this sort of thing. Consider how he always avoided glorifying himself. He was always slipping away from those who would make him a worldly leader; avoiding the trappings of success and outward affectations which usually go with leaders of great power.
Now, suddenly, for a few moments, he does the reverse. He is revealed to these three disciples in all his glory. Why? The key is in verse 2, “Six days later…;” later than what? Just six days before this, Jesus had spoken of his death to come. The disciples had rejected the message. Peter was blunt – “This shall not happen to you!” he said. Jesus admonished Peter and the rest for their unwillingness to listen. Alienation set in between the disciple’s personal agendas and the Lord’s purpose. Nothing is recorded of any conversation between them after that in any of the Gospels. It may have been silence. What purpose would there be for our Lord to speak if they were not willing to listen, if they would only hear him if he spoke what they wanted to hear? Jesus had to break through their intransigence.
It’s like that for you and me too. We’ve all had moments when the Lord has been silent in our lives. How often the Lord is silent with us, not because he has nothing to share with us, but because we have already decided on what we are willing to hear, and nothing more. If we will hear nothing but what we have decided on, what else could there be between our Lord and us at such times but silence? If we want to hear the Lord speak, we have to be willing to hear what he is saying.
How often we seek to confine the Lord. How often we seek to control his action in our lives and keep his full will at arms-length from us. We define him, what we think he ought to will, what we think he should empower us to do, how he should act and be; instead of letting him define us, who we are to be and what we are to do and will. Thus, we keep tight hold on our little agendas and vendettas and failings, letting them wreak havoc while all the while his power to transform us is bound by our willfulness and fears.
You see, the Transfiguration is not just to strengthen Jesus, preparing him for his Passion to come. Nor is it just to corral and humble the rebellious disciples. The transfiguration is also meant for you and me. Christ means to transfigure our souls and our lives. Jesus would have you and me in that inner circle with the Disciples. He seeks to commune with us, as he did them. Each of us has challenging moments in life, and a purpose for life that will go better if he is our vision, and his presence and will is our passion.
And his method is seen in those last words of our story, in verses eight and nine. “’This is my beloved son, listen to him.’…when they looked around, they saw no one…but Jesus only.’” If we are willing to meet him in a place and time set apart, if we are willing to listen even to what we don’t want to hear, he will meet us there. We will hear him, and we will know him.
In those moments of close connection with Jesus, when we willingly surrender ourselves in time and space set apart for deep prayer, the Holy Spirit sets to work on our souls like a catalyst, changing the whole inner core of our beings. It is the great spiritual blessing of prayer that transfigures our minds and hearts, and thus our lives. Though we have not been able to meet in Church in this holy season, Lent is still happening, and Holy Week is still coming. As we prepare now for it, make a meeting space – a place within– to listen; and make it for Jesus alone.