Post date: Feb 04, 2012 8:44:49 PM
God’s beloved people,
On Sunday February 19th we celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord. This is the last Sunday in the Epiphany season and Jesus’ transfiguration is another revelation, another manifestation, another epiphany of who Jesus is. Towards the beginning of the season of Epiphany we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord on January 8th. At the baptism of Jesus, God’s voice said, “You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11. We hear very similar words from God as Jesus is transfigured before his disciples on the mountaintop. “This is my Son, the beloved; listen to him.” Mark 9:7. Perhaps the emphasis is on “LISTEN TO HIM.”
On the mountain, God urges the disciples to listen to Jesus when he tells them, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31. Eventually, the disciples understand that Jesus is the suffering servant who gave his life as a ransom for many. Eventually the disciples understand that following Jesus is about humbly serving others in love and peace, but only after Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 22nd. On Ash Wed. we hear these words from the prophet Joel. “Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.” Joel 2:13. (We also sing these words before the reading of the gospel in Lent.) During Lent we are encouraged to turn to God with our whole hearts and trust in his grace and mercy. The 40 days of Lent are a more penitential season of the church year, but do not include Sundays, which are always “little Easters: little celebrations of the resurrection of Jesus.” Why 40 days? Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness as he withstood Satan’s temptations. The people Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness as they learned to trust God and be God’s people. Jesus died and spent about 40 hours in the tomb. During the 40 days of Lent we Christians are encouraged to repent of our sins and continually turn to God and live. Repentance, prayer, fasting, worship, Bible study and works of love and charity are some of the disciplines of Lent.
In the early church, Lent was also the time when new Christians were prepared for baptism. This was the catechesis (confirmation) time before folks were baptized on Easter Eve or early on Easter morning. During the season of Lent today, we journey with our Savior Jesus to Calvary and the cross. We think about the extreme price Jesus paid for our sins. We give thanks that he endured the pains of crucifixion for our sake. Then, when Easter comes, we will be able to celebrate more fully the resurrection of our Lord and the marvelous gifts of life and salvation which he freely gives to us.
Everyone is invited to begin the season of Lent with worship at 7:00 PM on Ash Wed, Feb 22nd. The imposition of ashes will be offered and the Lord’s Supper will be celebrated. Ashes have long been an outward sign of inner repentance.
“Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”