If encountering Jesus was as revolutionary, life-changing and challenging as people seemed to think it was (and is), then we shouldn't be surprised if these texts make us uncomfortable once and a while. We also shouldn't be surprised when they make big demands of us as his followers.
The Christian seasons have not been a huge part of the United Church of Canada's tradition up until recently. The calendar has been recovered in recent decades with the hope of closing the gaps and mending divisions between Christian churches in the world, especially between Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Also, though, in our world of round-the-clock consumerism, and minimal public holidays, there's something about patterning your life after a different calendar that makes time, different, special, or holy. As part of a fundraiser for our Pastor's Benevolent Fund, we sold copies of the Christian Seasons Calendar to help us in the recovery of these ancient practices of living in a different sort of time. I've found this especially profound for my kids, who even look forward to Lent!
On that note, we're coming up to Transfiguration Sunday in the Christian calendar. The odd day celebrating the story where Jesus is transformed--he becomes radiant to his disciples on the top of the mountain. This year, we'll be reading the version from Mark 9:2-10. It's such a weird story. Weird, especially, because Jesus tells his disciples not to discuss anything they have seen until "after he had risen from the dead."
Perhaps they don't see clearly enough in the present to know what this experience means. There are many people who can spot the divine in the here and now and understand what it all means no problem. Speaking for myself, though, I've found that when I actually spot something it's usually in retrospect. It's after looking back on things and reflecting on the present moment where I can say "I think that was the Spirit at work." Sometimes it's like we don't have the full picture of things in the present, and can only understand things fully after they have happened. What's interesting with this passage is that it looks like Jesus is saying that the disciples can't really understand what is happening on the mountain top, or even his whole life and ministry, unless they understand it in the life of the resurrection. They didn't really know what Jesus was up to until then.
How about you? Have there been moments in your life that didn't seem important at the time, but in looking back you realized they were actually huge moments of transformation in your life? Or your family or your community? How were you changed by them?
Let's keep these questions in mind as we make our way to celebrate our past, present and future in the light of the Spirit together!