I loved the way our pastor told the transfiguration story to kids in his children's message yesterday. You know, the part where Peter got all excited about how great it was on the mountain top with Jesus -- and Elijah, and Moses -- surrounded by brilliant dazzling light. True to form, Peter began shooting off his mouth (my words, not pastor's). Peter had a plan -- let's build monument-type houses for you three holy people and then we could all just stay up here on the mountain top... forever.
But in the middle of Peter's reckless goings on about his fantastic idea, God interrupts -- as if he were saying to Peter -- Shut. Up. (Pastor did not use those words when talking to the children, but he did use them in the grown up message -- I guess he figured we oldsters could handle a bit of how it really probably was.) When God interrupted Peter, His voice boomed from a bright cloud:
"This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"
I think his message to Peter, and those of us like Peter is...Stop with your own plans already. Stop thinking of yourself. It's not about you, it's about Jesus. Focus on my beloved Son, Jesus. And for heaven's sake, stop talking, because when you're talking you can't listen.
God got the attention of the disciples; they were scared witless. Peter and the others were overcome and fell to the ground, but Jesus told them not to be afraid. Then the gist of what He said was get up, and let's all get down off this mountain. And he told them not to be telling anyone what happened (the appearance of Elijah and Moses, and the voice of God) until after the resurrection.
So, they had to come down from their mountain top experience and get back to the real world. Just like we do when we've had mountain top experiences. You've got to come back down to earth and not only face the world, but embrace it, serve it, care for it and for people in it. At least that was my take away.
Pastor followed his message with a challenge for us to think and pray about what we could change in our lives to make us healthier physically, mentally, or spiritually. Lent is traditionally the time for giving up, and sometimes our giving up is rather frivolous. In case you don't know, there are good reasons to give something up for lent and there are not so good reasons. Here's a short read to help you sort that out: The Right and Wrong Reasons for Giving Something Up for Lent. But why not consider a deeper view, taking something on. Something that will change us for the better and make us stronger. You might find some good help here: Pastor Phil's blog: 20 Things to Give Up for Lent. Both of these links are from the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in New Jersey.
In our church we were each given a card to write down what we want/need to deal with...giving up, or taking on, or both. And if we get it written down and turned in Pastor Brian will pray for us throughout the Lenten season.
Give it up, Take it on!
I have prayed about it and I think ______________ is hurting me and/or my
relationships. I commit to
Give it up!
I have prayed about it and I think God wants me to _______________________,
so I can be more healthy, mentally, physically, or spiritually. I commit to
Take it ON!
Name (Optional) _______________________________
Of course we don't have to sign our cards, but the only way to get prayed for by name is to sign the card. I'll sign mine and turn it in, but I'm thinking I'll just leave it blank here on my blog. Truth is, I don't know how to fit all the things I think I ought to give up or take on in those little bitty blanks. I'll have to seek God for the answer to that.
Tomorrow is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday...
A last chance to have a blast
before beginning your fast.
I think I'll use tomorrow as a practice day for my "give it up, take it on" challenge instead.