23 February 2009

More Mountains to Climb

By Bob Brashear, Pastor West-Park Church

We’ve just passed through one of those “Gateway Sundays”...days in our liturgical calendar that lead us from one season into another. Yesterday was “Transfiguration Sunday”, the Sunday that leads us from the season of Light, Epiphany, into the season of reflection and repentance, Lent. With one final blast of light, the season that began with a star and the visit of the Magi on January 6th comes to an end. It comes to an end on a mountaintop with Jesus standing blaze of glory with Moses and Elijah, and then Jesus alone.

As with all “mountaintop” experiences, the disciples want to stay there with Jesus, to build shelters, extend the experience. But Jesus reminds them that there is work to be done. The road to Jerusalem, to the Passion and to Resurrection, lies ahead.

In the struggle for full acceptance and inclusion of lgbt folk, there have been a few mountaintop experiences. Certainly, the San Jose General Assembly last summer was one of them. The light was really shining that week. We have needed those moments of hope and inspiration, of celebration. And knowing that we’ve been there before, with GA victories, we knew we couldn’t stay for long to enjoy it, there was work to be done if the victory was to be won.

Lately we’ve been experiencing some “mini-mountaintops” as more and more Presbyteries have “flipped” their vote and moved to the side of inclusion. Certainly, in each of those presbyteries, the joy of that experience, the brighter shining of the light, needs to be celebrated. But we are still behind. There’s a long road ahead. More hills to climb.

Maybe something of that Transfiguration story can help us on the way. On that mountain, Jesus stood with Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets. And in the end, as the passage says, there was “only Jesus.” As Reformed Christians, we know that it is our own experience of the risen Christ that informs what we read in Scripture and inspires the work of the prophets. We understand the Scripture by reading it through the eyes of Jesus, and it is this reading that enables and empowers us to move beyond Bibliolatry, and, as we have known, that the Holy Spirit always has “more light” to shine on the Word.

It is through the living word that we understand and interpret the received and written word. But it is also that person, that spirit that informs our prophetic witness. I am convinced that it is that spirit that inspired the strategy of the ‘Thousand Conversations” and has enabled presbyteries to move beyond ideological power struggles and into spiritual discernment. (And it’s a classic Obama style community organizing strategy as well.)

There are more hills to climb until we reach that victory. It’s in sight. The strategy is working. And there’s more work to be done. The light of the Transfiguration can help sustain us through the tough days ahead. Walking with Jesus, we can move beyond the law and prophets. Or better, reveal them in their brightest light. Resurrection time, new life time, lies ahead.


John Edward Harris said...

If our resurrection time and the new life that lies ahead does not arrive this Easter, we know that every liturgical year holds a Transfiguration and opportunity for transformation.

John Edward Harris said...

Even if the resurrection and new life that lies ahead are not realized this Easter, we know that every liturgical year offers us a Transfiguration and hope for transformation, resurrection and new life.