What I’m Thinking: First Step

When Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared to speak with Jesus, Peter wanted to build a booth. There was something he should have attended to first.

Here’s a transcript:

We come to the end of the season after Epiphany. As is typical of the Revised Common Lectionary, we end this season with the story of the Transfiguration, found this year in the seventeenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 17:1-9).

Jesus brings Peter, James, and John with him up a mountain. At the top, two more figures join them, which they recognize as Moses and Elijah, two of the great prophets and leaders of Israel’s spiritual history. Peter wants to build some places to dwell, but then a voice sounds from a cloud, saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

When they look around again, everybody but Jesus, Peter, James, and John have gone again.

Every year this story comes up. Every year I try to “make sense” of it.

But truthfully, it’s not that challenging a story, now is it? Is it challenging to say that Jesus is a very special person? Is it challenging to say that Jesus is in the line of the great spiritual leaders of Israel?

All the Gospel writers immediately recognized parallels: Moses and Elijah both associated with mountains; both associated with giving of direction, of law, from a mountain. Is it any surprise that Jesus is also associated with that great tradition of new direction and of grace coming from God – and, just to make sure we don’t miss the point, up on a mountain?

Our impulse is to move towards that crafting of places in which to stay, those booths. But the first step is the one that we are inclined to skip, and that is to listen: to listen to Moses bringing the word of God down from the mountain; to listen to Elijah warning of all the other temptations offered by the deities of the world; the word of Jesus saying that there are high standards for us; the word of Jesus saying that God’s grace is for everybody.

Listen to him.

We are inclined to move on, aren’t we?

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on February 18, 2020

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