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The Thin Space Between Mary and Jesus

The Thin Space Between Mary and Jesus

REV. JODI BARON -March 13, 2016- Lent 5, Year C: John 12:1-8

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”


In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


Good morning! It is truly a blessing to see you each this morning. As I was heading to bed last night the thought had crossed my mind, “I wonder who will be the ones to forget about Daylight Savings Time?” I actually wondered if I would be the one who forgot. Even if you had, it would’ve been fine (it’s one of those things we like to tease each other about twice a year).


It never used to bother me, that time of year that harkens us back to days of the early 1900s…when, after seeing what Canada was able to accomplish by adding an hour to the end of their day, states across the union began to implement this ubiquitous tradition. And it seems as though states have been tinkering with it ever since; the date for which it should happen, when it should “end”, etc.


But when we started having kids, all that changed! This annual tradition had now entered into this sacred zone of peace and stability for my children and thereby…the mama… affectionately remembered as ‘sleep.’ Whether throughout the day as they napped or at the end of the day when they met their bed, it was sacred time for me as a new mom. There were no longer little people attached to my limbs climbing, crying, coo-ing, or just snuggling. They were peacefully resting, rejuvenating, and I was too. That morning would happen though, and I immediately started feeling like I was behind as soon as I woke up!


I’m kind of kidding, but it really was a fact that I could bank on losing this precious peace for about one to two weeks while their little bodies un-naturally adjusted to the time change.


For me, the DST “thing” gives me pause because of the way sleep affects our brains. Scientists have told us now that sleep is that time when our brain processes and files all the things we learned throughout the day.


If you saw the movie “Inside Out” you can identify, bedtime was when Command Center would engage in the great memory cleanse. Riley would drift off and the Core Emotions would watch the way her brain processed the day’s events.


They always got especially sentimental when one of those memories became, what they called, a “Core Memory.” The ones that developed Riley’s fragile personality islands.


For me, some of my core memories have to do with the sense of smell.


People who were special to me growing up, had a certain smell attached to them. Whether that was from what they cooked for me when I visited, perfume they wore that clung to me after hugging them, or maybe even the deodorant they wore that I began to associate with “their smell.”


I was always amazed how my babies would know it was me before they really knew anything, because of my “smell”. Their special blankets that would accompany them each time they slept, or felt sad, or scared, had that smell about it. To this day, I get flack from them when I have to wash that precious “ya-ya” because the machine takes away that smell.


Smell is a powerful sense!


It has the power to draw one in (for food, comfort, or trips down memory lane) as well as cast one away.


Think about a contrast to extreme olfactory responses you’ve had over the years.


I have many of both kinds, I have the smells that remind me of positive family memories; apple pies for gatherings, fresh baked yeast rolls by my great grandma, dirt and rain that revealed spring to my senses…


And then their are those I have that elicit powerful memories, that I can now laugh about, but during the experience felt more sick than funny.

Like that time when Daisy met a skunk at 10:30 at night, and we had to give her 3 baths AND put her through the Dog Wash on “De-Skunk”-ing…TWICE! Ooh, that was BAD!


And then there was the smell on the other end of the spectrum, my daughter’s baptism.


The smells from that day elicit a much different response!


The priest who baptised her happen to be of the persuasion that if you couldn’t still smell the chrism (the special oil blessed by the bishop) a few weeks later, you didn’t use enough!


He literally poured the oil over Magnolia’s head while he said the words, “you are sealed by the Holy Spirit in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own for ever.”


The whole nave was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

And to this day, everytime I smell the oil, when I open the ambry to retrieve the reserved sacrament, the smell meets me, and I take a deep breath before proceeding.


Baptism oil, in many faith traditions, but I know ours best, is different than regular oil because it is usually only blessed by the Bishop. Once a year, during Holy Week, the clergy of the Diocese come together for a time to renew our ordination vows and bring our empty chrismaria (the special containers that hold the special oil) to refill them for the coming year’s baptisms.


So, in theory, that’s your parish’s shot for the oil to seal your people by the Holy Spirit and mark them as Christ’s own,


for the whole year.


If you use just a spear or, like the Priest who baptized Maggie, half a cup worth per candidate, you have to plan accordingly.


What is more, it used to be that this particular oil was something that took a long time to make. It’s usually infused with balsam. Cool little factoid I learned about Balsam is that it was made from boiling the stems, leaves, and sap from the Balsam Tree and it was the most expensive spice in Israel. So it was used sparingly, for very special occasions.


So we have this oil, infused with Balsam, and now, every time I even think about baptism, I remember that moment I admitted that these beauties before me that I brought into the world, weren’t actually mine to begin with, that they indeed came from God and will one day return to God, well, that was a moment I wanted to promise my best to God. That I would strive to be faithful to this vocation of rearing God’s beloved. Of following God’s example of how to Love, to the best of my ability, until the day I day. And my community promised to help us!


That whole memory sequence is triggered by the smell of the Chrism!

When I was meditating on this morning’s gospel that verse about the oil kept bubbling up as something to pay attention to. The preciousness as well as power of the sent from the nard reminded me of our present day chrism.


Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”


I see the anointing at Bethany as an invitation to enter into the thin space created here between Mary and Jesus. Today we have this beautiful story that radiates God’s love for us, by way of one particular follower of Jesus who does something only an intimate disciple of Jesus could do; some even call her the Apostle to the Apostles.


The prototype Disciple.


In fact, this whole dinner party was a prototype for Discipleship.


Mary, Martha, and Lazarus host this dinner as a response, presumably from a place of gratitude, for the deeds of power God did through Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead in the preceding chapter (recall Martha’s response to Jesus wanting the tomb opened, “But Lord, already there is a stench because he’s been dead four days.” Yet another powerful olfactory experience, the stench of death!). That very act of resurrection was the act that some say cost Jesus his life, for it was from then on that the leaders plotted to have him killed.


Jesus, witnessing Mary’s love for her brother, was compelled to such deep sadness that scripture tells us, “he began to weep.” And now, here we are, zooming in on this Thanksgiving Dinner six days before the Passover. The same characters are gathered, and Mary, once again, teaches Jesus how to teach his disciples to love one another. Only this time, through the “wiping” of his feet. Two words in this passage are explicitly used in John for the Last Supper. “Dinner” and “Wipe”, which tells me Jesus was inspired by this family’s devotion that he decided to use their example when he would be at supper with his disciples on the night he was to be betrayed.


I like to think that this anointing, much like his experience on the mountain when he was transfigured, gave him the courage to meet the days ahead. This was before daily bath standards, and that oil had plenty to cling to so it is very likely that the nard seeped into Jesus’ feet and the smell was still present with him as he hung from the cross.


It is the scent of a king and dead body, all in one.


Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”


Next Sunday we greet our Lord, who enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, with our Palm Branches stretched out and then walk with him throughout Holy Week.

May we be filled with the fragrance of God’s love for us as we journey the rest of the way through Lent, into the Holiest of Holy Weeks, and meet him at the empty tomb on Easter!



As our closing hymn sung,

“In boldness, love, nor count the cost. Confront the world’s harsh stare: like one who washed the feet of Christ, and wiped them with her hair, poured perfume to anoint her Lord, and left love’s fragrance there.” 


Confession Is Good For The Soul

Confession Is Good For The Soul

BY REV. CHRISTIAN BARON -March 6, 2016- Lent 4, Year C: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.


“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.


I spent 26 hours this weekend in Three Rivers with College Students and folks in their 20s and 30s. Eight of us went on a Lenten Retreat and stayed in a guest house owned by one of the Deacons of our Diocese. It was a wonderful time of deep conversation, juvenile laughter and sacred silence.


Some of our conversations revolved around deep theological questions such as sin, human nature, suffering, and the joys and pains of community.


We talked about the future and the past.


Jobs, College, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.


We also talked about life and death, justice and our own personal meat eating ethic.


We spent time eating home cooked meals, playing games and sitting in the hot tub.


We went to St Gregory’s, the Episcopal Monastery in Three Rivers, and prayed with the monks.


We spent Saturday morning in silence as we meditated and read and prayed with mandalas and walked the trails on the property. On the trails we encountered deer and all of creation and a personal God.


I’ll remember all of these things fondly as I think back on the relationships that have been formed in our post high school group through our partnership with Hope College and Hope Church.


But what I will remember most from this retreat is that for the first time in my life, I was a penitent in the Rite of reconciliation.


I confessed my sins to a priest and heard the words of absolution in a new and fresh way. Others also made their first confession though I’m certain they noticed that mine took the longest.


You should know, that as one of the priests of this parish, I have sinned. I have done some bad things in my life and even recently. I’m not talking scandalous here… you need not worry… I’m not going to jail or being defrocked… But my sin has affected others.  And it has affected how I see the world and how I treat others. It affects how I am connected to the creator of the Universe. And though my sin won’t make the news and won’t land me in the bishop’s office… in my connections to everything around me, I guess it is pretty scandalous.


And you have your own scandals… your own sin… your own broken and bruised relationships.


Some of us think more about our sin than is helpful and some of us spend less time thinking about our sin than is helpful. Either way, I don’t think that either approach is intentional… but this expresses the need to live an examined life. We have blind spots. We have sinned. We have hurt people we love…


Sins in which you have been the perpetrator, sins in which you have been the victim and everything in between… Sin is a big deal… And, I’ll say, I think that each of you… each of us… is doing the best we can… each of us is working with a different deck of cards and trying to make the best hand. Trying to live fully into our humanness… For those of us in this building, we are trying to become more like Jesus Christ and to live into our baptismal covenant… To work against selfishness and to offer the love of God to all those around us. Part of that is living an examined life.


In the parable today, we get to see some good examples of the consequences of sin.


We see the strained relationships.


The lack of dignity and respect for family.


We see the exploitation by those with money and power against those who have very little.


We see the bitterness of a son who feels trapped and unappreciated… The bitterness of the daily grind of trying to live a disciplined life.


Talk about scandalous, this parable is filled with heartache and scandal. In fact the parable is written to shock and to offend… the account of the sins of the prodigal is Luke’s account of The Wolf of Wall Street. In fact, the way that the younger brother is described is almost exactly like Leonardo Dicaprio in the Wolf of Wall Street. The parties… the squandering… the sexual immorality… the backstabbing… the short term and false relationships.

There is so much here in this story.  So much that we can gloss over because this story is so well known. But if you saw that movie… I think the writer of the gospel… this parable of Jesus… was going for the same emotions we felt watching the film. The character is repulsive.. The reader is meant to be made ill… to ask, “what kind of person would do these things?”


The fact is, the youngest son did not care for anybody but himself. His request for his inheritance is to wish for his Father’s death. He cares not for the family nor for the estate. He abandons his culture for immediate gratification…


Whether you identify more with the younger son or the older son, it is important to realize how obscene and egregious the younger son’s actions are.


Though his father wasn’t actually dead, it must have brought him to a place right next to death. This action would have been humiliating… embarrassing… and the opposite of justice.


It was… sinful.


It cut off relationship with the father and the father’s other son. With the rest of the family estate. The younger son became dead to the older son… to the servants… to the family estate… he became dead to all… except for the Father.


For me… today… this is the brilliance and beauty of this parable.


The Father chooses to die for the benefit of his son. He chooses to submit because of his wisdom. He knows his son is in trouble. He knows that his son is on a path to death and destruction. He knows that death is coming for this young man. He knows that pain is inevitable… for all parties involved…


But he hopes for reconciliation… He hopes for life. He hopes for a new creation. He hopes for for resurrection. He hopes.


But the Father knows he needs to create an environment where resurrection can happen. He knows that his son is on a path that will not lead to life. He knows that this path can only lead to death… and that he cannot stop it.


He knows he can only create space for resurrection… and so so he puts his pride aside. He endures the humiliation of giving up half of his estate and watches his son walk away.


And what if he hadn’t? What if the father had refused to give up the inheritance? What if he instead made it known that “no son of his would be shaming the family name. Shaming the family, stealing any chance of legacy and spitting in the face of the man who sacrificed so much for his well being.”


What if instead of waiting for his son to return with his arms wide open… instead of hoping that someday he would return…  what if he had crossed those arms and refused to submit to his son’s request?

It certainly was a gamble, but instead of gambling on cut-off, he gambled on love.


He placed all of his chips, almost literally, on love.

And he lost everything… and… still hit the jackpot. He lost half of the what the family had worked so hard for… potentially generations of hard work and discipline…


At some point, the son was sitting in pig feces… eating pig food, closer to death than he ever thought possible… and he remembered the Father’s goodness.


He remembered the Father’s love.


And… The love, this goodness… drew him back.


The Father’s love drew him back.


Not because he wanted another portion of the inheritance, but because he finally was able to internally confess his sin and the pain he must have caused the family and specifically his Father.

He turns around… he turns around and starts walking back to goodness.

And the Good Father was watching for him… was waiting for him… was hoping for him.

But without the spiritual death of the youngest son… and the sacrificial death of the good father… the reconciliation would not have been possible. The son seems to have needed to go through this… to go through this painful and messy death… so that he could experience resurrection.


And so we come back to our sin.


Your sin and mine…


Our sins that have separated us from one another and from those that have been placed in our lives and therefore from our God.


These sins… these actions and systems that have divided us, need to be addressed.


They need to be addressed if we want to be restored in a healthy way to those around us.

The good news is that we say the general confession each week before Eucharist.


But the other news is, we all have relationships that have suffered and that are broken or bruised because of our actions.


And, the truth is, we cannot be reconciled unless we confess those sins and to clear the air. That is the point of Lent… We want to put ourselves and the Church in a place that is poised for resurrection. We want to create an environment that cultivates resurrection. Without that work… possibilities are limited. Resurrection is stunted. Reconciliation is unlikely. Make space in these next 3 weeks of Lent. Do the hard work composting your scraps so that God can turn our waste into good soil… Cultivate an environment that hopes for resurrection. Have an open posture… with arms wide open… so that when resurrection comes calling, you are ready…

“Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away.”






REV. JODI BARON – February 21, 2016 – 2 LENT, YEAR C: LUKE 13:31-35

In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.


This morning I woke up and felt drawn back to the Old Testament lesson. That part that tells us,


“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.”


Mostly because, (and I realize this may be the first some of you are hearing this news) as the sun was going down yesterday, our Michigan community experienced a “terrifying darkness” that has descended upon our State, our Diocesan boundaries, our neighbors in Kalamazoo.


As I opened the news this morning, (for an updated account on the situation, here is one account from local news WoodTV8) I couldn’t believe what I was reading! It took my breath away to read about yet another mass shooting that has happened, only this time it was just down the highway from us.


I’m not going to go into it, because (a) it’s still unfolding, and (b) the families of some of the victims are still being notified.

But I do have a few thoughts that I wanted share, as they pertain to this season of the church calendar we find ourselves in and the scriptures we just got done hearing or reading.


First, what in the world?!?!?!


I was literally on the street the police apprehended the suspect they believe was responsible for the death of seven human lives in Kalamazoo last night. That violence has stripped away a sense of basic human safety in ways the police have said they have NEVER seen in our area. This violence has created a cloud of darkness that many folks are finding themselves smack dab in the center of right now.


Second, if you are the praying type Kalamazoo needs your prayers.


Some of the families are just now hearing the news, some of the families are keeping vigil with their loved ones as they fight for their lives in the hospital, the police are in the midst of interviewing this suspect. As this dawned upon me the only thing I could think of was to pray. So I opened my prayer book and searched for a prayer that might offer a glimpse of comfort or the warmth of human compassion for the families affected by this senseless act of violence.


That simple prayer, introduced to our Common Prayer in the revision of the 1789 Prayer Book, served as a catalyst to propel me to re-commit to my Lenten practices. The tragedy in Kalamazoo was, and continues to be, a sobering reminder of the times we live in, and why we take up disciplines each year to strengthen our faith so we can have the courage to serve the world in the name of Christ.

Because here we are.


Ash Wednesday & the First Sunday in Lent have come and gone and set the course for our pilgrimage to Mount Calvary.


How is it going for you?


By now you’ve had a chance to settle into the practices you’ve selected for this season, you’ve had a chance to live out the fasting or giving or prayer practices for a while now…


So…how’s it going?


Training is challenging, isn’t it?


I’ve had the opportunity to train for a few different events in my life; baptism, surgery, college, new jobs, marriage, backpacking, giving birth, the priesthood, a 5K…right now I’m in the midst of training for my first 10K.


It’s challenging.


All of these events I’ve trained for have been challenging in their own way.


But all of them share a common motif.


God’s covenant and the newness of life offered by transforming grace.


Laurence Stookey, a professor of preaching in the DC area, wrote a book awhile ago about a Theology of liturgical time. In it he walks through the church calendar and offers thoughts about the week-to-week cycle we find ourselves in, if we are liturgical christians. I love it because it helps give me insight into the inner weeks of seasons, patterns between years A, B, and C. It pulls me out of my commentaries and throws me deeper into the meaning of each season.


He writes that “Lent is like an ellipse: It is a single entity with a double focus. The Forty Days are (a) a time for a probing consideration of our human condition, including sin and its deadly consequences for both individuals and society, and (b) a time for an equally intense consideration of the new possibilities offered to us in Jesus Christ and their implications for practical living.”


Some scholars describe this particular week in Lent with the focus on Abram’s vision through God’s gracious initiative and promise (on which we can depend and to which we are called to respond with joyful and sustained obedience), as well as Jesus’ gift of newness of life as we focus in on the Cross.


As one theologian said, “Lent is not six-and-a-half weeks of marching around the foot of Mount Calvary. Rather, this season engages us in the process of confronting who we are by nature, who we are by God’s purpose and redeeming action, and what we can become by divine grace.”


These interior Sundays, as he describes, “propel us forward so that finally we do find our feet planted at the base of the cross, with our eyes gazing beyond to behold the power of the resurrection and the seek its manifestations even now in our daily discipleship.”


But not yet.


First we have to train.


So if you’ve slacked in your practices, like me, from time-to-time, don’t give up! Start again. This is a rich time of transformation and our world needs your disciplines, now more than ever! Our world, your neighbors, need to cling to your steadfast faith as you knit, run, pray, fast, give, repent…You are a disciple of Jesus and your practices…our practices…are one of the ways God is transforming the world. So, please…don’t stop trying to grow deeper in your relationship with God.


Be renewed.


Those families in Kalamazoo need our prayers, our fasting, our giving, our comfort.


Our families facing horrid medical troubles need our prayers, our fasting, our giving, our comfort.


Our friends among us preparing to be baptized, or received, or confirmed into this crazy Christian expression of The Episcopal Church, need our prayers, our fasting, our giving, and our comfort.


This is an intense time of Training for Christians. This has been said before, but bears repeating, as a church, this is the annual time in which we are constrained to insist that there is no route to an empty tomb except by way of the cross.


Jesus desires to gather all of God’s children, us “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” Unlike those in Jesus’ audience in this morning’s Gospel, however, let us be willing to be gathered. Let us be willing to bring more into the fold and under his wings. Let us train with perseverance and steadfast faith so that when we gaze upon the empty tomb we are not surprised by grace, but are propelled to live more faithfully the life Christ has called each of us to.


‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’

Listen to Him… On Purpose… All the way to Golgotha

Listen to Him… On Purpose… All the way to Golgotha

REV. CHRISTIAN BARON – February 7, 2016 – Last Sunday After the Epiphany

Luke 9:28-36
About eight days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ of God, Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”–not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

It was a hot and sticky day in Traverse City in August of 2000. I had spent the night before sleeping in a tent with some friends at Traverse City State Park. I remember wanting to stay up late into the night but I was too tired… too anxious… So I wrapped things up and let my friends sit by the fire. It was loud… the State Park in Traverse is right next to the highway… right next to it.

In the morning I drove to the church and got dressed.
I was 23 and kind of terrified.

I walked down the aisle with my brother… I could hardly breathe.

That’s when Jodi appeared at the back of the church. There she was… walking down the aisle.. her veil covering her face. I remember it all like it was yesterday… mostly because I asked Jodi yesterday about the specifics. But what I do remember is that, even with the veil… things were too real… too powerful… too intense. To be honest, I’m not sure if it would have made a difference if she wasn’t wearing the veil.

And, maybe the veil is an archaic prop that the $72 billion dollar a year wedding industry sees as icing on the cake. Perhaps many of us don’t understand the symbolism behind it so it’s just one more things to add to the list of wedding items to purchase. This was the case for me… I didn’t remember the story of Jacob and how Laban tricked him into marrying Leah. He dresses her in Rachel’s fine clothes, gets Jacob drunk, has her fitted with a thick veil, and that’s the recipe for marrying off your less desirable daughter.

Most likely when you hear the word veil, you think of your own wedding or a wedding you attended. Perhaps you think of the closely related Burqa that is worn by some women who practice Islam. Or maybe you think of skiing in the town of Vail at one of the massive resorts in Colorado… It is spelled differently, but I tool the middle school students skiing yesterday and wrote my sermon while sitting in the Lodge… (Whatever the case, I’m sure some sort of image comes to mind when you heard the stories from the lectionary today).

In Ancient Israel, and perhaps deep within the history of this less meaningful wedding costume in our own culture, the veil was a way to preserve the mystery… the knowing of the one wearing it. To protect the integrity and the purity of the one wearing it.
Besides protecting the integrity and purity of the bride-to-be, it also served as a way to mark a life-changing moment whereby the man and woman join their separate lives and embark on something new. That moment, of the lifting of the veil, is when they both are able to see clearer what they are committing to. It acted as a threshold.

The same was true for Moses. If we look into this morning’s Hebrew Text, we read that he came into nearly direct contact with God and like Jesus was also transfigured. Like Jesus, in this morning’s gospel, his face was also changed and he lit up like lightning. It was so bright, the people couldn’t handle the reality of the situation when he came off the mountain. Couldn’t handle the secondary or reflection of God in Moses’ face. And, this experience, this encounter with Yahweh, sustained Moses for the work he needed to do. He came down from the mountain and was ready to follow through and to do the hard work he was called to do.

The gospel today the story is no different. Jesus, through prayer… comes into contact with God the Father… in a direct and special way and is transfigured… He begins to glow like a lightning bolt, the text says he “shines with dazzling white.”

And Peter, John and James witness it… they witness this amazing event and are present during this holy moment. The author is intent on the communicating the divinity of Jesus, son of Joseph, the carpenter.

The text says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Fascinating… Jesus has been picked by God.. Chosen… Jesus is God’s own Son. (Now, remember, this isn’t an ongoing, unfolding of historical events as they happen, this is a particular community’s reflection on the meaning and significance and importance of the divinity of Christ and of the meaning of the Resurrection!) For the author, without the divinity, Jesus’ Passion and death are meaningless. Without the divinity, Jesus is just another martyred revolutionary… another martyred prophet. And, for Luke, without the divinity of Christ, the Resurrection makes no sense.

And… the author wants to communicate, to help the hearers see that these three disciples… the big three Peter, John and James… don’t understand the significance of this event. They don’t understand that it signifies Jesus’ divinity… and didn’t have the luxury that you and I do of seeing into the future with this story. “That was awesome!” Peter says. “Let’s build places to stay here!
Maybe forever… but certainly we should remain here as long as possible.” They miss the point.
They don’t realize that this transfiguration occurs, at least partially, to sustain Jesus through the Passion…to see him all the way through, and to fulfill God’s purpose in the salvation of all of Creation.

And in the gospel, the voice declares, God the Father declares, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Again, the author is making it clear that Jesus is divine. Jesus is chosen by God. The point being, Jesus has gravitas… he has the weight to carry a message such as this… Like the prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus is God’s messenger… and then some. Jesus is willing and worthy to carry out this Passion, this mission…

So reader, you, we, should listen to him. To Jesus the chosen Son of God…
Listen to his life story. Listen to his controversial and counter intuitive and counter cultural message and watch how he lives and died…. in order to understand more fully how he rose from that death.

This Wednesday Lent begins.
We all have a few more days to listen for the gentle nudging of God. A few more days to scramble and try to piece together a meaningful practice or discipline for a Holy Lent.

How might we prepare best for the passion… ?

How could we use our 40 days in the dessert to prepare?

How will each of us intentionally live so that we might grow closer to the Father?

Will I pick up a new prayer practice? Will I restart an old one?

Are you going to give up eating meat? or candy?

Am I going to bump up my giving to a cause that I am passionate about?

Maybe you will spend extra time with your family… Maybe this year you will, for the first time, participate in the rite of reconciliation in a formal way.

Maybe I’ll give up fishing? Not likely, but maybe.

And, maybe you just need to be gentle on yourself… maybe you need to make extra time to rest and relax and be.

But you should know… that listening to the chosen Son, means following him. That prayer, fasting, almsgiving and the rite of reconciliation… if it is authentic… if it is unveiled, leads us through the garden in Gethsemane and atop of Golgotha. Lent calls you and I to drop the veil. It calls us to be vulnerable and to reveal ourselves intimately.. It is the only way we can have authentic and whole relationship with our God and the world.

It will lead us to and through death so that you and I can rise again with Christ in THE resurrection. Transformed and transfigured… I’m praying for a Holy Lent for us both…

“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”