Reflection: March 3

Published on Mar 4th, 2019 by Rev. David Boyd | 0

         I remember when I was 19 or so, I worked 2 summers for BC Ferries at the Nanaimo terminal.  I worked shifts and so had varied starting times; my earliest start was 4:30 am and my latest end was 11 pm.  Even in my teens, I was a poor sleeper.  It was a change in shifts, I think, and I’d gone for a nap in the late afternoon and awakened about 8 pm.  I must have fallen into a deep sleep for when I woke up, I was absolutely convinced it was 8 am and that I was late for work and was going to get into trouble.  I was rushing around the house muttering about having overslept and being late. It was summer time, so the days were long and I couldn’t tell what time it was by looking outside.  I remember my family just looked at me like I was crazy; they kept saying that it was evening and I didn’t have work until the next morning. I was absolutely convinced that it was morning and it took quite some time for me to realize that I still had 10 hours before I had to be at work.  It was funny but really disconcerting.

         So, I’ve always been able to relate to Peter in this story of the mountain top transfiguration of Jesus. Peter goes to sleep—a deep sleep, perhaps, wakes up, is discombobulated, doesn’t know what is going on and blurts things out.  It’s what happens when we are suddenly awakened from a deep sleep; we don’t know what’s going on and it takes some persuading to calm down and catch up to the present.

         There are many aspects to this story told by Matthew, Mark and Luke and many interpretations.  Interestingly, John doesn’t tell the story of the Transfiguration.  One interpretation is that Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets as symbolized by the appearance of Moses and Elijah.  Or it’s about the fact that God’s love is transformational and we all have to go back down the mountain to live as transformed people in the midst of the valleys and every-day life.  It’s about the new Exodus that is represented in Jesus, the One who is God’s Beloved, who is to bring about the second Exodus to freedom.

         Maybe, though, among all of the interpretations, it is also a wake-up story!  “Wake up, people, things are happening!  Things are changing; new life is springing up.  You don’t want to miss it or get it wrong!  Come on, wake up!”

         There’s a strong impetus to this among the prophets.  That’s what prophets do, they try to wake us up.  Isaiah, the second one who encouraged the people that God was going to restore their fortunes in Jerusalem, said, “God is doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it!?” Jeremiah tried to talk people into waking up and seeing with their hearts.  Ezekiel embodied his prophecies and tried to wake the people up.  Jonah finally woke up to the fact that God’s love is far-reaching and wide.  Job woke up to the reality and mystery of God.  Miriam woke people up with her singing and dancing.  Ruth woke to the reality that God was with her.  Esther woke her people up to the threat they faced and then woke up the king to see the injustice right before his eyes.  It seems we need waking up in every generation. It’s biblical.  It’s timeless.  We need waking up again!

         And that’s the task of modern prophets like David Suzuki, Maya Angelou, novelists and poets, artists and musicians.  They are trying to wake us up to the reality of what we are doing to the planet and who we’re about as human beings.  They wake us up to the transformational love that exists if we would live it out more abundantly.  They wake us up to the dangers of our over-consumptive ways, our penchant for mystery and intrigue and political scandal, our inability to get along as human beings.  And religious communities and leaders wake us up to the reality that love is what drives the world around, not money or power or privilege or race or gender.

         For example, Rumi lived in the 13thcentury and eventually wrote a lot of poetry about waking up.  I think he did so in part because he himself woke up after meeting Shams, a Dervish, who showed Rumi a whole new way of thinking.  Rumi had been a fairly traditional teacher and then his life changed when he met Shams and he woke up and spoke about love’s power; he wrote mystical poetry to open us up to seeing the world in a new way… like, The Awakening:

In the early dawn of happiness
you gave me three kisses
so that I would wake up
to this moment of love

I tried to remember in my heart
what I’d dreamt about
during the night
before I became aware
of this moving
of life

         Peter woke up to a moment of love and once he got his bearings, and inspired by Jesus and the voice that declared him Beloved, they all moved down the mountain and continued the journey of love.  I believe that we are this moment in the dawning of a new age where we need to wake up to the experiences of humanity that pull us together, experience the kisses of life that value us and hold us and wake up to this moment of love, this moment of hope, this transformational moment where all changes and love calls us into new ways of being beloved and whole beings.  Amen.



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