Readings: II Kings 2: 1-12; Psalm 50: 1-6; II Corinthians 4: 3-6; Mark 9: 2-9
On the last Sunday after the Epiphany, we always read the text of the Transfiguration found in the Gospels according to Mark, Luke and Matthew. The Transfiguration is also celebrated annually on the sixth of August. It is celebrated twice a year, unlike any other event. Its importance cannot be over emphasized for us who walk in the way of Jesus, who call ourselves Christians. Upon the holy mountain Jesus is fully revealed to the inner circle of Peter, James and John. Then he led them back down the mountain, back into ministry, into loving with all his heart, with all his mind, with all his strength, and with all his soul. It is on display on the mountain top and in ministry that the glory of God is the love of God, that the glory of Jesus is the love of Jesus.
Moses guided and formed the People of God through the law. Elijah and the prophets like Elisha guided and formed the People of God through situational proclamations. Jesus guided and formed the People of God through extravagant love.
Jesus talked with the ignored. Jesus calmed the distraught. Jesus touched the untouchables, even lepers. Jesus ate and drank with all sorts and conditions of men and women. Jesus forgave, and forgave, and forgave, think Peter and the moments before the rooster crowed. Jesus stretched out his arms of love, even when nailed to the cross.
It is not complicated! It is not rocket science! Yet it is the greatest of challenges- to live love.
Jesus was fearless in loving. Jesus was transparent in loving; he wore his heart on his sleeve. Jesus put himself out there, was infinitely vulnerable.
As we enter the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, we tone down the ceremony; we process in silence; no Alleluias are spoken; we get on our knees, if possible, to acknowledge God; we veil crosses; we remove flowers. When we gather, we strip down to the basics, and we take stock of our selves on Sundays and all the days in between. We acknowledge who we are to our very core; we are brutally honest.
And then we experience the extravagant, the extraordinary love of God for us. God’s love for us is placed in our hands, is given to us, for us and for our salvation. We open our hands, and we open our hearts to take into our souls God’s extravagant, God’s extraordinary love for us. We come forward to receive into our lives, again, so that we can be more loving as Jesus loved.
So, we can love fearlessly. So, we can love transparently. So, we can put ourselves out there and be vulnerable.
Living by law fades away. Living by proclamation fades away. Living by love is eternal.
Let’s conclude with the words of St. Paul in I Corinthians as reimagined by Eugene Peterson in The Message.
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Love doesn’t have a swelled head, Love doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first”, Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others gravel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end…
Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. Go after a life of love as if our life depended on it – because it does.