Sermons

March 12: Second Sunday of Lent

“’This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’” Matthew 17:1-9.

Transfiguration

We continue this Lenten journey of ours, and we hear of the Transfiguration, and how on a mountaintop, the figures of Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus, the “beloved son,” and his disciples.

Today, I want to speak about God’s covenant in Jesus, and your unique covenant with Jesus during this particular season of grace.

Toward the end, I have a brief afterword that I hope may tie together these ideas of  mine.

The Transfiguration event is found in all three of the synoptic gospels, and had great resonance for the post-resurrection community in coming to grips with the unique covenant of Jesus, the human face of God.

While on this Lenten journey of ours, we too are refreshing, perhaps establishing for the first time, our own covenant with God in Jesus.

Consequently, we are headed to Jerusalem in order to witness Jesus’s great act of love on the cross, and the grace of a “new life” in his resurrection.

Over great expanses of time, God has extended his love in covenants with key figures in Jewish history.

To Noah, the ark with its rainbow stood as signs and the covenant of God’s rescue for his people.

In our first reading today, we hear of Father Abraham and his covenant forged in the kinship with a “chosen people.” a great nation.

Today’s gospel passage provides an insight into a covenant of laws with its great nation so much the work of Moses and the prophets, and in whose presence — Jesus stands and receives affirmation from the voice of God.

At the same time, Jesus embodies a new covenant with the luminous presence and revelation of a God — in the persons of the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit.

Such a mystery prompts us to ask: do we really know the true identity of God? Or for that matter the true identity of any human being?

We are mysteries to ourselves at times, and Jesus is no different. Thomas Merton, the great American writer and monk, reminds us: “Wisdom knows God in ourselves, and ourselves in God.”

Today’s gospel tells us that if we wish to know him, we must ascend the mountain with Jesus. This Lenten time is an opportunity to gain perspective on him, and his unique covenant with each of us.

Too often, we live in valleys and lowlands, defined by geography, let alone gravity.

Like Peter, James and John we are called to even greater heights, where our souls are meant to take flight, in order to see our relationship with Jesus in greater depth and clarity. This may take a lifetime for personal conversion and perspective.

We need greater perspective, maybe the kind you get aloft on an airplane, looking down on sometimes even familiar terrain but seeing first hand, an inter-connectedness of flatlands with mountains, the rivers emptying into the sea, the cityscape and the houses with their backyards, the animals grazing on hillsides, the cars and trucks speeding up and down the interstate highways.

It’s with this kind of spiritual perspective with the thousands of personal intentions of people that accompany us on this Lenten journey that help us touch the heavens, and hear the voice of God in our own hearts.

Afterword:

James M. Barrie the playwright and author of “Peter Pan” bequeathed the copyright and its huge fortune for his most famous literary creation to the London’s Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

Barrie had become a foster uncle to four young boys whose parents had died leaving them in great sorrow and personal bereavement.

How do you explain to young people about such sorrow and sadness becomes the subject of a film “Finding Neverland,” (2004) with Johnny Depp, and the current Broadway musical adaptation, which starred Matthew Morrison.

In the song “When Your Feet Don’t Touch the Ground,” Morrison playing James Barrie, sings along side Aiden Gemme as Peter. Together they deal with this grief, asking us to consider a higher realm, an “invisible kingdom of the heart” where the “lost boys” might fly, and make this inner life possible. The British singer and composer Gary Barlow wrote this amazing song.

 

2 thoughts on “March 12: Second Sunday of Lent

  1. Thank you for your sermon last Sunday in Morro Bay…this gorgeous song and its adaptive meaning for everyday suspension of reality in order to believe…that is, indeed, faith. And I was struck by your comment “We are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.” That was an aha moment.

    Always enjoy your visits, but this one compelled me to beginning following you beyond Morro Bay.

    Like

    • Thanks Judy. The quote, “We are an Easter people, living in a Good Friday world” comes
      from one of my favorite writers Anne Lamott. Her books “Traveling Mercies,” and “Plan B:
      Further Thoughts on Faith” are favorites of mine, and very much recommended during this
      Lenten Season. All the best! Mike R

      Like

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