“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. ….get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
Do you think Jesus took those disciples to the mountaintop because they’d lost touch with their ability to be amazed? They were spending a lot of time together. I suppose hanging out with Jesus, over time, could become…ordinary. Whose turn is it to wash the robes anyway?! Why is Peter trying to get out of polishing sandals again? Perhaps the disciples forgot that living life with Jesus was radically amazing.
So, Jesus took them for a walk…
Matthew’s gospel locates Jesus on a mountaintop with Peter, James and John, lit up, Rolf Jacobson says, like the Las Vegas strip! Jesus…transfigured. One last burst of radical, amazing, light before Jesus turned his face towards Jerusalem and the cross. Are we glimpsing flashes of a radically amazing Jesus this Lenten season? Do we need to go for a walk?
Many of us are now deeply into the spiritual practice we selected for the 40 days of Lent that began with Ash Wednesday. We are giving up things we love, and in a similar spirit of attending to the change of season, taking things on – being kinder to folks in our community, de-cluttering our work and living areas, volunteering our service to those in need. There is something about the journey to Jerusalem and the cross that pulls us, maybe even hounds us, to change something about our living. What if the Transfigured Jesus is also inviting us to lives of radical amazement?
Far too often in the church, we are beat over the head with our unworthiness, our shortcomings, our sin. All of these things are real and even in the mouth of Jesus who calls the disciples “you of little faith.” But there is no condemnation in Matthew’s mountaintop story today. Instead we encounter a Jesus who lays hands on cowering disciples. We know about the healing in those hands. Where are the spaces for radically amazing touch in our Lenten season and in our lives? In the wearying wilderness of human living, it is good to be touched and healed.
Everything on the mountaintop is incredible – not least of which is the voice of God enjoining the disciples to listen to the beloved son who says, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” “Do not be afraid,” the angel says to Mary when he comes to announce that she will carry the son of God. “Do not be afraid,” the angels say to the women who discover the stone rolled away on Easter morning. “Do not be afraid,” Jesus says up on the mountain before the long walk to Jerusalem and the cross. This is the story of our faith. With these words in our ears and our hearts, we can look at the world boldly and see the shimmering Jesus who calls us from fear to courage, from the mundane to the amazing. Listen to him. Listen, and be amazed.
Praying, for all God’s children, a Lenten season that takes nothing for granted.
To God be the Glory.