Tumbling in the Sand
The texts for Sunday, February 19, 2012: 2 Kings 2:1–12, Psalm 50:1–6, 2 Corinthians 4:3–6, Mark 9:2–9
… There is a certain tragic edge to glory it seems.
As though, we can only seek after it, but in the end we are destroyed in the attempt to attain it.
Either that, or only a very few are ever entitled to such glory and the rest of us are left to be forgotten.
It makes one wonder if glory actually exists at all, or if it is rather more like a mirage in the desert that leaves us thirsty and crying out for water.
You certainly could get that impression from the gospel reading for today
—where there is this amazing glorious moment on top of a mountain
—so stunning, so dazzling as to be indescribable and totally disorienting to the poor disciples who witness it.
Not to mention those of us who read it, doubtfully, now.
Peter, who always seems to have to say something, stumbles for the words that capture the essence of what we all wish for:
that we somehow hold on to glory
—that we could climb that mountain, follow the law and the prophets,
and finally claim that glory as our own …
We have been hearing quite a bit about being transformed lately. What does it mean to be transformed by the glory of God revealed in the crucifixion? What does it mean for the individual? What did it mean for Peter who went on to stick his foot in his mouth many more times before becoming the “father of the church”? What does it mean for the church struggling to pay its bills as a graying and gray membership dies off? How are we as individuals and as the church transformed to reveal that transformational glory? Stay tuned…?
This is something that I’d love to just be able to answer: but I really can’t. What do you think?
I think that being transformed by the glory of God revealed in the cross means dying to ourselves: giving up our ideas about hierarchy and how God should run things.
I think that being transformed by the cross will end up looking a little different for each community and each person, since each shard of glass is also different and every context is different too.
I do think that there are a couple of things that I’m kind of thinking about that will be kind of the same though: Firstly, we have to give up that we will somehow be this glorious church of the 60s, 70s, or 80s. Or that we will even be this large glorious institutional church of the 2012s. We need to be willing to die to that kind of church in order to resurrected disciples in a “post-Christian” world.
Secondly, we are going to have to become graceful about our failures. We are going to have to be willing to try and fail again and again. We are going to have to give ourselves the grace to screw it up, to stick our foot in our mouth, and to fall again and again on the grace of the wounded, resurrected one. I think what that means is that we have to give up on “foolproof programs” as well as giving up “we’ve always done it this way and it’s worked” sorts of thinking.
And one more thing (I’m sure I’ll think of more, but this is all for now), I think we as the Church will have to take up our cross and follow Jesus. And I think that the pattern of taking up the cross is the same for us as for Jesus: suffering, struggle, and death that we pick up should be about redemption, healing, justice, and new life; not suffering for the sake of suffering or reinforcing the power of the systems that already exist and wield oppressive power.