Monday, January 28, 2008

that changes a few things...

This Sunday, we celebrate the transfiguration of Jesus.  That is, the story of how Jesus went up a mountain with some of the disciples, and was wonderfully, mystically transfigured with light, revealing his glory.  Set in the midst of the ordinary life he'd been sharing with these disciples, suddenly his divine power was obvious.  

It changed a few things.

After a revelation as bold and brilliant as this transfiguration, they wanted to respond.  Their idea: build a monument.  Jesus wanted more.


I treasure the many ways artists have imagined this scene.  What a challenge: showing transfiguration, using the tools of the "regular" world.

In early 14th Century Italy, Duccio painted the scene on the wall of a little chapel in Padua.  While the others in the story are shown with regularly-colored clothes, Jesus is clothed in gold.  Shiny, metallic gold.  Holier, even, that Moses and Elijah, who appear at his sides.  The disciples, blinded by the light, crouch down to mark and honor this mystery.

A contemporary artist, Alex Gray, creates an image of transfiguration that feels cosmic--rising above the earth, glowing and marked by a geometric pattern that feels full, complete and universal, this transfiguration is beyond anything of the world, alone.
It's sometimes tempting, when reading stories like this one, to get caught up in whether it's true--how it would work, what science could describe.

I prefer to wonder about what it means for us.

It's clear that both the disciples and Jesus were interested in response: how are we changed by this transfiguration?  How do we honor this revelation?  What does it change for us?

I've been intrigued by a project I found online: the yellow arrow.  It's a global, community art project--people are invited to put yellow stickers around their communities, pointing to "things that matter."  Then, using text messaging and the internet, they can add bits of information that can be similarly accessed by anyone who finds the arrow.  

The arrows mark the world as "art."  Or as things worth noticing.

I wonder what it would look like if we started better marking the presence of holiness in the world around us?  Now just up high on mountain tops, but all around us?

I think that's what the transfiguration was about--it was a mystical moment of revelation, where Jesus' holiness was suddenly, strikingly clear.  But he wasn't holy just in that moment.  The task is to find signs of transfiguration all around us.

What would you mark?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

follow me

Our scripture reading from Matthew tells of how Jesus calls his first disciples.  "Follow me," he says.  And they do.

I've been pondering my own challenges in living up to what it might mean to "follow" Jesus.  To do the things he did, both marvelous and difficult.  

Part of what I treasure about this story is how it shows us Jesus insisting that some fishermen have what it takes to be his followers--even though we are not told anything about how Jesus checked these guys out, he invites them along for his journey.  I find both the whole-heartedness of the invitation and the thoroughness of their response as wondrous.

If Jesus believes that those guys could do it, maybe he really things we can, too.

I once heard or read that Gandhi was asked about the differences between himself and Christians.  And that he said there wasn't much difference between himself and most Christians, except that he believed Jesus meant those things he said.

When I look at Gandhi's live of non-violent resistance and social change, I am inspired to use my life differently, better.  As if I might really be someone Jesus could invite to follow along to do the things he did.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

a taste of good things

In honor of the Fancy Food Show which is here at our Convention Center this week, I thought I'd muse a bit on tasting tasty things.  
Especially since, as the Union-Tribune reports today, people are willing to buy really good, tasty things, even in a time of economic decline.  This idea intrigues me today, and not just because I also like to eat well...
It seems to me that our Christian vocation requires our choosing a path that is sometimes more sacrifice, but that is richer and more wonderful.  Like really good food, grown and prepared well.
And, the really fabulous part is that the invitation to that rich life comes beautifully--like free samples at a food show, but better.  
In John's gospel reading for this week, people begin to testify about how Jesus is.  (Much like some of us are willing to testify to the greatness of a restaurant we've just tried...only here they're talking about a savior.)  And Jesus invites others along.
"Come and see," he says.
I wish we'd hear this in the church more often.  He doesn't say, "First, get your life in order.  Then, learn to dress and act like we do, sign our statement of belief, conform your life to our ways of doing things and make vows.  Then, maybe after you die, you can experience this life I talk about."
"Come and see," he says.
Much like a chocolatier might offer a tasty morsel, he invites others to try a new, beautiful way of living.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Remember your baptism

And Be Thankful!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Precious Gifts

This Sunday we celebrate Epiphany, the day tradition marks as the day the three wise leaders from afar reached the Christ child, guided by a magnificent star. Matthew tells the story in his gospel.

We have celebrated the gift of grace we know through Jesus at Christmas.

Epiphany helps us consider gifts in other ways.

The wise guys brought Jesus gifts that were precious in their day -- gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What's precious to you? What could you bring to others, to God's kingdom? Sometimes it helps to consider what you consider to be precious gifts. For me, that gift is words. A gift of words. Given and received. What is precious to you? How can you share those gifts in your faith journey?

One thing we seem to hold as precious in common is the gift of fellowship we share at Water's Edge. What are ways that we can share that gift with others in 2008?