Thursday, August 6, 2015

It is good that we are here!

Last night while I was out exercising with my 8 year old daughter I began meditating on the readings for today's Feast Day. To be fair, there are myriads of different messages and a vast plethora of
theological and typological things happening. So much so that you could really reflect on just about anything and find something deep in the imagery and events of those excepts from scripture. My daughter, however, in her youthful innocence said something (which I'll write about a little later) that triggered me to think about this statement of Peters.  "Rabbi, it is good that we are here!"'

  If we look back to earlier in this passage we find that Jesus has already informed them that some of them will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming on a cloud of glory. That sounds like a very positive thing indeed. Yet, it also infers that some of them will have died as well. Facing our own mortality is never easy. Then Jesus goes on to start describing what must happen in Jerusalem, that he must go down to die a heinous death. How horrible to hear your friend, your teacher, your brother; speak of their own death in such terms.

 Then as the Holy Spirit and the glory of God is revealed in Jesus at this moment, we see that the apostles were terrified! How terrifying indeed, for it proves that not only is Jesus the Messiah, but everything he said is going to come to pass! Peter blurts out something that is a good thing, but also shows our mortality. "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." Why would Peter want to do this? Well it was a holy moment to be sure, and what had just happened was something amazing. I am sure he was awestruck. Also, his fear had something to do with it. Peter did not want to go back down the mountain. Going down the mountain meant facing Jesus death and betrayal. Going down the mountain meant leaving this glorious moment, where the true gory that Christ is due was revealed. Going down the mountain meant facing his own death, his own inner demons, as well.

 Why would I think of this as my daughter and I were jogging around the block? Something she said struck me as profound for her young age. We were talking about how when we jog around she really enjoys it, because she gets to see new things. She isn't always in the same spot. Then I mentioned that her mother and I had talked about going to different parks and recreational areas so that we can see new spots while we exercise. Then my daughter said the strangest thing, "Yeah but we don't want to go to Japan or China."

 I said, "Why not there? I am sure there are many beautiful gardens and things to see in those countries."

 She replied, "Because in some places there I can't say that I love Jesus! They might kill me!"

 I explained to her that while that was true in some parts, that there were many places in those countries were she would be free to talk about her love for Christ. I also explained that there were many people in those countries who also loved Jesus, and were willing to speak about it even if it meant being hurt.

 You see, just like my daughter, I'm often afraid to come down off the mountain. While some people are called to cloistered life in a monastery or nunnery, many of us are laypeople. It is our job to be the domestic church. To go out into the world and to spread the light of Christ as we go. Our environment doesn't change, rather we are to change our environment. In the second reading, Peter talks about his experience on the mountain top. "You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." Peter reminds us that by the virtue of our baptism, we have received the Holy Spirit, and we too are lights in the world. We are not supposed to place those lights under a basket, but on a hill for all to see.

 We must experience "metanoia," a fancy Greek word meaning a complete turning around of our lives(almost a turning upside down or inside out), until we too shine with the glory of Christ. We are not supposed to spend all of our time behind closed doors. Our religion does not end when we leave the Sanctuary. We receive Christ in the Eucharist, then we are charged to go forth and share the good news with the world. We must be transfigured, and conformed to Christ so fully in our lives, that the very places that we journey can become small reminders of the glory of Christ, and in our own way help bring God's Kingdom right here to the now.

 How about you? Are you ready to come down the mountain? Are you being transfigured by the Holy Spirit to shine your light into the darkness of the world? Are you ready to be the hands and feet of Christ?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hot Burn Baby

As I sat in adoration yesterday reflected on the readings for today in preparation for this mornings Communion Service, I began to muse on the actions of the Israelites as they were journeying through the desert. It reminded me of an incident in my own life from when I was a small child. My mother
had warned me over and over about the stove. She told me "Hot burn baby, and mommy too." She knew what was good for me. Being the stubborn mule of a child that I was, I didn't believe she knew better. So I waited till she was out of the room and I pulled a chair over to the stove. I turned the electric eye on as high as it would go. As soon as it was red hot I put my hand down on it. Of course.. she was right, it burned me.

She took me to the doctor and he put some salve on it. Then he told her, "you take him home and bust his butt." Why? Because I didn't listen. It's kind of like those Israelites here in the desert. In the past few days we have heard how they saw all of these miracles. They saw the plagues in Egypt. The red sea parted. Pharaoh's army swallowed up in the waters. Then when they grumbled about not having their fancy foods from Egypt, God himself provided bread from heaven miraculously on the ground for them to eat. Now he has led them day and night with a massive pillar of flame and smoke. Something to remind them every day of the power of God. He led them to the promised land and said "Here it is, everything you could ever want, fertile soil, plenty of water.. a land of milk and honey. Take it, I give it to you." They don't believe him. They grumble and complain. They spread rumors about how tough it will be. They refuse to go. They don't think the Lord knows better than the they do.

Then we see in the Gospel reading a complete turn around. We see a woman who is the "they." The enemy. The "other." She should be going to her own gods, her idols for help. Instead a Canaanite comes to a Jewish Rabbi and begs for His help. He even almost insults her, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs," Jesus responds. Then she makes a declaration of faith, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” How powerful a statement this is! Jesus commends her faith and performs a miracle because of it.

  I think that is our lesson for today. To trust in the power of God, to trust even when it seems it might be difficult. No matter where he is calling us, no matter how difficult the odds, we should be trusting and step forth in faith. How hard would it be to swallow your pride and go to the 'enemy,' and ask them for a favor? Even after they call you a dog? Are you ready to step out in faith and go where God leads you? To undertake even those tasks that look like they are too hard to overcome? There is a beautiful saying in the 11th chapter of Luke that expresses it so well. " “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Let's believe in those promises, stepping out into the land of milk and honey. In this world of strange happenings and skewed moral compasses, we need our faith more than ever.