Sunday, February 24, 2008

3 Lent


February 24, 2008
Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church
Lecanto, Florida

Today, in our very long Gospel reading, we find Jesus confronting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.

More often than not, when we encounter a story like this in scripture, we don’t often think about what happened to some of these people after their experience with Jesus. Every so often, it might not hurt to ask ourselves: what happened to this woman at the well? Did she heed the words of Jesus to her, or did she go on in her old lifestyle? We know she shared the news with other Samaritans. But did she reform her life?

Well, there are actually some interesting stories about what might have happened to this Samaritan woman. What many Western Christians don’t know—and probably have never given a second thought to—is the fact that this Samaritan woman is revered now by the Eastern Church. They have actually given her a name. Traditionally, she is known now as St. Photini.

According to tradition, the belief is that St. Photini did, in fact, take Jesus’s words to heart. The story goes that she, along with five of her sisters, were baptized and that, following Jesus’s death, she went out to proclaim the Gospel. She was preaching the Gospel in Rome when the Emperor Nero began his persecution of Christians. She confronted the Emperor with her faith in and love for Christ, which simply enraged him. He had her imprisoned and tortured, but would not allow her to die. One night, as he lay in prison, begging for God to allow her to die, Jesus appeared to her just as he had at Jacob’s well. As he stood above her, he offered her the waters of everlasting life. The vision filled her with such joy, that, a few days later, she died singing her praises to God.

In the Orthodox Church, she is referred to as “equal to the Apostles,” which is saying a lot. There is a wonderful hymn that the Eastern Church sings to St. Photini

Illuminated by the Holy Spirit, All-Glorious One,
From Christ the Saviour you drank the water of salvation.
With open hand you give it to those who thirst.
Great-Martyr Photini, Equal-to-the-Apostles,
Pray to Christ for the salvation of our souls
.

Her feast day is, coincidentally, celebrated in the Orthodox Church this coming Tuesday, February 26.

It’s a great story and hopefully one that will help us all appreciate this Gospel story every time we ever read it or hear it. But, more importantly, is the message that is here for all of us as well.

When Jesus sits with Photini at the well, he offers not only her that water of life—he offers it to us as well. And we, in turn, like her, must “with open hand” give it “to those who thirst.”

To truly understand the meaning of water, here, though we have to gently remind ourselves of the land in which this story is taking place. Palestine was and is a dry and arid land. And in Jesus’s day, water was not as accessible as we take for granted these days. It came from wells that sometimes weren’t in close proximity to one’s home. The water that came from those wells was not the clean and filtered water we enjoy now, that we drink from fancy bottles. They didn’t have refrigeration, so often the water they drank was lukewarm at best. And sometimes it was polluted. People got sick and died from drinking it.

But despite all of that, water was essential. One died without water in that arid land. Water meant life. And so we have this issue of water in a story in which Jesus confronts this woman—Photini—who is obviously thirsty. Thirsty for water, yes, but she is obviously thirsty also for more. She is thirsty as well for love, for security, for stability, all of which she does not have.

Now, we have to be fair to St. Photini. For a woman to be without a man in her day would have meant that she would be without security, without a home, without anything. A woman at that time was defined by the men in her life—her husband or father or son. And so, widowed as many times as she was, she was desperate to find some reason and purpose in her life through the men in her life. Photini is thirsty. Thirsty for the water she is drawing from the well and thirsty for more than life has given her.

In a sense, we can find much to relate to in Photini. We too are thirsty. We might not be thirsty in the same way that Photini is. We, after all, are able to drink our fancy, cool, filtered mineral waters from nice bottles. We have other drinks—we have our coffees, and our sodas and our wines and liquors. We have plenty to drink and sometimes, especially with those wines and liquors, we drink to excess. But, no doubt, most of us are thirsty for more than we have. What we are drinking to quench our thirst might not be best for us.

In our lives we are no doubt looking for relationships, or money, or food, or alcohol or anything to fill that empty parched feeling within us. But we will never be quenched until we drink of that cool, clean water which will fill us where we need to be filled. That cool, clean Water is of course Jesus. He is the Water of which we drink to be truly filled. It is the Water that will become in us “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

What better image to take with us in these long days of Lent? As we journey through the desert of Lent toward Holy Week, toward the darkness and violence of Good Friday, what better image can we cling to? Because that is what we are doing during Lent. We are traveling through the desert. We are walking through the arid wasteland of our own lives. We are journeying toward the Cross and the destruction, pain and death it brings. We are wandering toward that tomb, that dark, dank place.

We are St. Photini—parched and alone, thirsting for something more. In Lent, we bring ourselves—our fractured, shattered, uncertain, frightened, insecure selves—to the well, expecting only for a temporary quenching. But at Easter, that day we are longing for, that we are traveling toward, that we are striving toward despite our thirst—on that day we will find more than we expected to find.

On Easter, we will find Jesus, alive and vibrant, offering us water that will truly quench our thirst. At the empty tomb—that other well—he gives us the water that will fill us and renew us and make us whole and complete. There, he offers us the water that will wash away the grit and ugliness of all that we have done and all that we have failed to do, as we say to God in our confession of sins.

Like Photini, the Samaritan woman, we approach the well, trapped in our sinful ways. But, like Photini, we are able to leave the well of the Easter tomb a different person. We walk away from that tomb a transformed person—a person made whole. We walk away from that tomb remade into a saint.

So, as we approach Easter and the Living Water that pours forth from the tomb of Easter, let us drink fully of the water that is offered to us there. Let us drink deeply of Jesus, who offers himself to us fully and completely. And in that Water, we will find all that we desire.

Our insecurities will be washed away.

Our wounds will be cleaned and healed.

Everything we have done or failed to do will be made right.

That thirst that drives us and nags at us and gnaws at us, that drives us to drink from places where we should not be drinking, will finally—once and for all—be quenched.

And in that Living Water we will find Life—that Life that Jesus brings us on that Easter morning—a Life without death or suffering or wanting—a life which Jesus breaks wide open for us and shows us as more incredible than anything we fully appreciate or understand.

Jesus is there, offering himself for all. All we have to do is say, “Give me some of that water.” And it will be given to us. And those of us who drink of that water will never again be thirsty.

Amen.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday of 2 Lent

February 20, 2008
Gethsemane Cathedral

Matthew 20.17-28

In tonight’s Gospel reading we find Jesus speaking out against the arrogant and, specifically, against the religious authorities, which ties very well into a book I’ve been reading recently.

For my Lenten reading, I have been reading (between my studies) a book called The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. Now, before I recommend the book, I want to make sure to say that, in reading Borg or Crossan, one really needs a personal filter. Their scholarship is a bit over-the-top at times, and confusing to people who might not know about their kind of Biblical scholarship. Some of what they write about in their books is simply not helpful for some people’s spiritual life.

But, using a kind of filter when reading them, one can find some very helpful things. And, in this book, although I’ve had to filter out some things myself, I have found some very helpful tidbits in understanding scripture.

In their book, Borg and Crossan talk about how many Christians misinterpret the message of Jesus in the Gospels. Many Christians seem to think, when they read passages similar to this one, that Jesus has a problem with the priests and teachers of the Law, or even a problem with Gentiles. But the real issue, according to Borg and Crossan, is what they call the “domination system” of Jesus’s day. His problem is only with those priests, teachers and rulers who abuse their power, who lord it over others.

And that’s very important. Jesus is, quite clearly, speaking out against abusive authority—a very dangerous thing to do in his day and age, as it sometimes is with us as well today.

The message of today’s Gospel is very clear to us. Jesus tells us that, to be a Christian, one can not be abusive to others. We cannot “lord” whatever power we might have over others. Rather, to be a Christian, we must serve others and be a servant.

I am teaching a course right now, in Phoenix, called “Servant Leadership.” One of the points I make in this class is that, nowadays, we hear so much about leadership.

There are so many classes on leadership. But there are no classes on effective following. To be an effective leader, one first has to be effective follower. One has to learn to be an effective servant—a person who serves. And few of us know how to do that.

Jesus is telling us that to lead, we must first serve. And to truly see that and understand it, all we have to is look to Jesus, who did just that in his own life. He came to us as one of us to lead us out of the bondage we have bound ourselves within. He did so, by walking alongside us. He still comes to us, walks beside us and guides us forward.

When we serve each other in humility and love, we are heeding Jesus’s words from tonight’s Gospel. When we serve each other in humility and love what we are doing is bringing the Kingdom of God into our midst. We are entering into that place in which God breaks through whatever barriers divide us from God and from each other.

So, help break that barrier in whatever small ways you can in your life. Break those barriers by humbly serving each other in love. And where that love is, there too will God be.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

1 Lent

February 10, 2008
The Episcopal Church of St. John the Divine
Moorhead, Minnesota

Gen. 2.15-17; 3.1-7; Matthew 4.1-11

In our readings from the Old Treatment reading and the Gospel, we get two stories with one common character. In our reading from Genesis, we find Satan in the form of a serpent, tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden. In our Gospel, we have Satan yet again, doing what he does best—tempting. But this time he is tempting Jesus.

What we have here is essentially the same story, retold. We have the tempter. We have the tempted. We have the temptations. But we have two very different results. We have the exactly opposite results.

The connection between Adam and Jesus is a long and interesting one. And it is one that has layers of meaning. I have always loved reading the traditions through the history of the Church of the connections between Adam and Jesus. For example, there is a tradition that believes that the tree from which Eve picked the fruit was later cut down and used as the wood for the cross on which Jesus died. There is also another tradition that I just read recently. There is a tradition that when Adam and Eve died, they were actually buried on Golgotha, the place where Jesus would eventually be crucified. In Jerusalem, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, there is a large rock beneath the Calvary Chapel. This rock is split and a read streak runs right through it. It is believed that, when Jesus died on the cross, this rock split. And his blood trickled down into the crack in the rock to the place where Adam and Eve were buried. As the blood touched their bones, this tradition states, Adam and Eve were finally restored to their former state though Christ. They were saved.

In fact, in some representations of the crucifixion, you can often see a skull at the base of the cross. The tradition is that this skull is actually the skull of Adam.

I love these traditional stories, not because I necessarily believe that they’re true. I love them because they help us to see that there are no loose ends in the story of God. When it comes to God, what seems like a failure—the fall of Adam and Eve—eventually becomes the greatest success of all—the refusal of Jesus to be tempted.

Still, we must deal with the issue of temptation and sin.They are the hinge events in both of the stories we hear this morning from scripture. Alexander Schmemann, the great Eastern Orthodox theologian, once said that there are two roots to all sin—pride and the flesh. If we look at what Satan offers both Adam and Jesus in today’s readings, we see that all the temptations can find their root mostly in the sin of pride. Adam and Eve, as they partake of the fruit, have forgotten about God and have placed themselves first. The eating of that fruit is all about them. They have placed themselves before God in their own existence.

And that’s what pride really is. It is the putting of ourselves before God. It is the misguided belief that everything is all about us. The world revolves around us. The universe exists to serve us. And the only humility we have is a false one.

When one allows one’s self to think along those lines, the fall that comes after it is a painful one. Adam and Eve’s was a Fall that still affects us. When Adam and Eve eat of the forbidden fruit, they are ashamed because they realize they are naked. They realize they have nothing. They realize that, by themselves and of themselves, they are nothing. This realization is that it is not all about them, after all. They have failed themselves and they have failed God in their pride.

But the amazing thing, if you notice, is that Adam and Eve still have not really learned their lesson. They leave the Garden in shame, but there is still a certain level of pride there. As they go, we don’t hear them wailing before God. We don’t see them turning to God in sorrow for what they have done. We don’t see them presenting themselves before God, broken and humbled, by what they have done. They never ask God for forgiveness. Instead, they leave in shame, but they leave to continue on in their pride.

From this story, we see that Satan knows perfectly how to appeal to humans. The doorway for Satan to enter into one’s life is through pride. Of course, in scripture, we find that Satan’s downfall came through pride as well. Lucifer wanted to be like God. And when he knew he couldn’t, he rebelled and fell.

We see him trying to use pride again in his temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. When Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness, he tries to appeal to Jesus’ pride. He knows that Jesus knows he is exactly who is. Satan knows that Jesus truly does have the power to reign and rule, that he has all the power in the world. And Satan further knows that if he could harness that power for himself—for evil—then he will have that power as well. Because Jesus was fully human, Satan knew that he could appeal to the pride all humans carry with them. But Jesus, because he, in addition to being fully human, was also fully God as well, refused to succumb to the sin of pride. In fact, because Jesus, fully God, came to us and became human like us, the ultimate sign of humility came among us.

So, these two stories speak in many ways to us, who are struggling in our own lives. As we hear these stories, we no doubt find ourselves relating fully to Adam and Eve. After all, like Adam and Eve, we find ourselves constantly tempted and constantly failing as they did. And also like them, we find that when we fail, when we fall, we oftentimes don’t’ turn again to God, asking God’s forgiveness in our lives.

We almost never are able to be, like Jesus, able to resist the temptations of pride and sin, especially when we are in vulnerable state. Jesus, after forty days of fasting, was certainly in a vulnerable place to be tempted. As we all enter the forty days of fasting in this season of Lent, we too need to be on guard. We too need to keep our eyes on Jesus—who, in addition to being our God, is also our companion in this earthly adventure we are having. We need to look to Jesus, the new Adam, the one who shows us that Adam’s fall—and Adam’s fall is essentially our fall as well—is not the end of the story.

Whatever failings Adam had were made right with Jesus. And, in the same way, whatever failings we make are ultimately made right in Jesus as well. Jesus has come among us to show up the right pathway. Jesus has come to us to lead us through our failings to a place in which we will succeed.

So, follow him in the path of your life, allowing him to lead you back to the Garden of Eden that Adam and Eve were forced to abandoned. Because it is only when we have abandoned pride in our lives—when we have shed concern for ourselves, when we have denied ourselves and disciplined ourselves to the point in which we realize it is not all about us at all—only then will we discover that the temptations that come to us will have no effect on us. Humility, which we should be cultivating and practicing during this season of Lent, should be what we are cultivating and practicing all our lives. Humility is the best safeguard against temptation.

So, as we move through the wasteland of Lent and throughout the rest of your lives, be firm and faithful in keeping Jesus as the goal of your life. Do not let those temptations of pride rule out in your life. In these days of Lent, in all your days, practice personal humility and spiritual fasting. Let Jesus set the standard in your life. And let him, as he did to Adam and Eve when he died on the cross, raise you up from the places you have fallen in your journey to him.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Take This Bread by Sara Miles


My friend, Pastor Mark Strobel, recently recommended a book to me that I just managed to read. In fact, because of our blizzard today, I read it in one sitting this afternoon and was so taken with it, I had to share it with others I thought might appreciate it.

The book is Take This Bread: A Radical Conversion, by Sara Miles. It is the story of Sara, an atheist lesbian who one day wandered into St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco and received Communion. With that reception, she was converted. She writes of the experience:

“…someone was putting a piece of fresh, crumbly bread in my hands, saying ‘the body of Christ,’ and handing me a goblet of sweet wine, saying ‘the blood of Christ,’ and then something outrageous and terrifying happened. Jesus happened to me.”

She goes on to write:

“…that impossible word, Jesus, lodged in me like a crumb. I said it over and over to myself, as if repetition would help me understand. I had no idea what it meant; I didn’t know what to do with it. But it was realer than any thought of mine, or even any subjective emotion: It was as real as the actual taste of the bread and the wine. And the word was indisputably in my body now, as if I’d swallowed a radioactive pellet that would outlive my own flesh.”

Miles summarizes her conversion and new faith thusly:

“Christianity wasn’t an argument I could win, or even resolves. It wasn’t a thesis. It was a mystery that I was finally willing to swallow.”

She goes on to write: “I was loved by a big love. In the midst of suffering, of hunger, even of death. Alleluia. What was, finally so hard about accepting that?”

Although some of Miles’ opinions and insights regarding the Church, the sacraments, liturgy, etc., might be considered a bit radical, they also provide a refreshing challenge to all of us in the Church. The book as a whole is compelling and deeply moving. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you get a change, get the book and read it.

Here’s a link to the book at Amazon:

http://tinyurl.com/3xce9d

Sara Miles also has a website:

http://saramiles.net/

These 40 Days

I was quoted in an article by Sherri Richards in today's issue of the Fargo Forum.


Amanda Vaalburg was studying to be a Protestant missionary when she first tried fasting during Lent.

The practice opened up something in her heart, she says. That year, she felt compelled to attend Easter vigil at a Catholic church.

A few years later, she converted to the Catholic faith, officially joining at an Easter vigil Mass.

“I really wonder if I would ever have become Catholic if I didn’t embrace fasting,” Vaalburg says. “It’s a very deeply positive experience. Sometimes it’s something that can bring us to God in a way that nothing else can.”

So now, every Lent, Vaalburg gives up sweets (“It doesn’t happen perfectly, but I try”) as well as a bad habit, such as being late, worrying unnecessarily or speaking critically of others. She says she tries to fill that void with a positive spiritual experience, such as a retreat or special devotion.

She also fasts outside of Lent, such as on Fridays and during Advent.

“It quiets our spirits inside so we’re more open to receiving the message of love that God has for us on the cross,” Vaalburg says.

Fasting and abstaining are common during Lent, the liturgical season leading up to Easter, especially in the Catholic faith. Catholics are called to go without a main meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to abstain from meat on Fridays.

They are also encouraged to take on a personal form of penance, like Vaalburg’s break from sweets.

“It’s a way of entering into the same human experience that Jesus had in the desert,” says Monsignor Gregory Schlesselmann, rector at Cardinal Muench Seminary in Fargo. “Jesus was giving us an example.

“What we should really be hungering for is God, for the fullness of life in him,” Schlesselmann says.

But individual fasts are common during Lent in other Christian traditions as well.

“Almost everyone I know among parishioners say they’re trying to do something during Lent,” says the Rev. Jamie Parsley, assisting priest at Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral. “It’s kind of like life. We have our fast times, we have our feast times. To really enjoy Easter, we refrain during Lent, to really get us in the mind of what’s coming up.”

Generally speaking, fasting is common in several religious traditions. For example, Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadan and Jews fast on Yom Kippur.

But some Protestant circles are a bit reluctant to encourage fasting, in case people would do so for the wrong reasons, says Suzanne Hequet, a visiting assisting professor of religion at Concordia College in Moorhead.

Hequet points out that Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday celebrations – a last opportunity to “live it up” before Lent begins – are more common and larger in areas that are predominantly Roman Catholic than those that are predominantly Lutheran or Protestant.

In the Augsburg Confession of 1530, Philipp Melanchthon, an associate of Martin Luther, wrote that church practices like fasting are approved, unless they are done to gain favor and mercy from God, Hequet says. Those actions are useless and contrary to the Gospel.

Most Protestants agree on Luther’s teachings regarding this area of justification, she says.

“If Lutherans for Lent want to fast or take on some sort of special understanding of hunger … those are taken on not to gain salvation but rather to be a visible mark of their status as Christians,” Hequet says. “They’re affirming the reality of Christ in their lives.”

Monday, February 4, 2008

Last Epiphany

February 3, 2008
All Saints Episcopal Church
Valley City, North Dakota

Matthew 17.1-9

In this morning’s Gospel, we get that wonderful vision—the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor. And it is a vision. It is a vision that even we, all these many ages later, still struggle to make understand.

The Transfiguration is a special experience. The Transfiguration is a glorious event. It is that moment in the lives of Jesus’ specially chosen apostles—Peter, James and John—in which there could be little doubt regarding who he was and what he came to do.

It must have been frightening. It would fill any of us with fear. Over and over again in the scriptures, whenever God makes God’s self known in such a way, the reaction is almost always fear. And think of the fear you would feel if you were there. Think of how frightening it would be. This man we know—this friend—this person we have walked with, ate with—is now shown to us as something much more than we thought he was.

Certainly those apostles knew from the beginning he was different—that he was special—that he was touched by God in some unique way. But now, it is clear he is more than just different, more than just special. It is clear, on the mount, that he is more than merely touched by God. Here is Jesus glorified—glowing with the light of God.

And he is standing before them flanked by Moses and Elijah. Why Moses and Elijah? Why not Abraham and Ezekiel? Why not David and Isaiah? The reason becomes clear when we look at this event with the eyes of other Christians. Although we in the Western Church look at the Transfiguration as important, I think we might not fully understand the significance of what happened on Mount Tabor. But the Eastern Church sees the Transfiguration as one of the most important events in the life of Jesus and in our understanding of him.The Transfiguration is seen by the Eastern Church in much the same way they view Epiphany or Advent. For them, as for us, we find everything coming together in the event of the Transfiguration. The Eastern Christians help us to see why Moses and Elijah were so important to this vision. Because Moses is more than just the historical figure in this story. Moses represents the Law of the Old Testament. And Elijah, the great Prophet, represents all the prophecies that heralded Christ’s coming among us.

As the great Father of the early Church, Origen, wrote,

“And then the Word touched [the apostles], and as they lifted their eyes they saw Jesus standing alone, and there was no one else. And Moses (The Law) and Elijah (Prophecy) were become one with Jesus (Gospel). And everything had changed: they were not three, but one single Being standing alone.” (Comm in Matt. XII, 43)

What the Law anticipated, what the Prophecies foretold have found their fulfillment in what stands between them—Jesus. We also see a vision similar to what we experienced in the Gospel reading a few weeks ago, when we read about Jesus’ Baptism at the hands of John the Baptist. There we saw the Holy Trinity at work. We had Jesus, of course, being baptized. We had the Voice of God the Father and we had the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus as a dove.Today, we also have a vision of the Holy Trinity on Mount Tabor. We have the glorified Jesus, shining in all his brilliance. We have, again, the Voice of God the Father. And we have the Holy Spirit, which we see as the form of the cloud. This image of the cloud is significant too because it calls to mind, no doubt, the pillar of Cloud of that led the Israelites out of Egypt in the Exodus. Just as God’s Spirit led the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, so the Cloud of the Spirit’s presence on Mount Tabor leads us through the wilderness of our understanding to the Promised Land of Resurrection and Life.

For the Orthodox Church, they view the Transfiguration as a “small epiphany”--a small but complete manifestation of God. And so, we finish the season of Epiphany with an epiphany—with a beautiful manifestations of God’s presence among us. Everything has come together, there on the mount. In that blinding, brilliant, beautiful Light, the whole of creation has come together and has been made whole. The pieces of the puzzle fall into place. All of it makes sense. All the difficult passages of the Law find their meaning and purpose revealed. All those strange prophecies—those wild, sometimes terrible visions the prophets had—have been fulfilled. In that one moment, it all makes sense. In this one person—in Jesus—we find humanity and God come together.

In Jesus, we find the hinge event of all existence. Everything up to that point had found completion. Nothing would ever be the same again in our spiritual history. The light we see on Mount Tabor is the Light that burns away all confusion. We can see clearly now how God has been working in creation from the beginning to the end. We can now understand how that sometimes confused past—that past of God’s chosen people betraying God, of God’s forgiveness of those people, of the longing of God’s faithful and obedient people for God to send to them hope and joy—has been made clear.

But what we also see today is something of the future. This week, on Ash Wednesday, we begin the long, gray days of Lent. We begin the season of self-denial and turning our attention to the events of Holy Week—that week in which Jesus will be betrayed, will suffer and will die.

But what we see today, as we begin this season of Lent, is a glimpse of the glory that awaits Jesus and us as well. In that glorious vision of Jesus on Mount Tabor, we see a glimpse of the resurrected Jesus as well. For Jesus, who stands on Mount Tabor, part of the holy Trinity, the fulfillment of Law and the Prophecies, is the resurrected Jesus. This is Jesus in his fullest glory.

It is an almost blinding vision we can take with us into the gloom of Lent and it is a vision we can cling to and hold on to during the days that are coming. Yes, there will be hard days ahead, but, in the end, it all will be well. The hope and joy we find on Mount Tabor is that ultimately our sackcloth will be turned into gowns of gold, our ashes into crowns.

For those first apostles they couldn’t quite see that. For them, it was frightening and bewildering. And, in the midst of that frightening and bewildering experience, it is the voice of Jesus that speaks to them, and to us as well. He calms their fears with his most repeated commandment—“Do not fear.”

As uncertain as the future might be—and it IS frightening—the vision of Jesus transformed on Mount Tabor fills us with hope. There we see that despite the confusion and fear of our experiences here on earth, God puts everything into a perfect order. The Law is fulfilled. The prophecies have been met. The darkness of death is overcome by the glorious Light of God. Confusion and misunderstanding will be replaced with knowledge and certainty.

And Jesus is there, through it all, from beginning to end, telling us, simply—beautifully—“Do not fear.” What more can we ask for? What more do we want from life, than to know that everything will, ultimately, be all right?

So, as you go from here, go with the light of the Transfiguration, burning within you. Go, knowing that the past and the future have met, here in your midst. And go, heeding the words of Jesus,

“Do not be afraid.”