What we do tonight is remember. As a family gathers after a death, we have come together to remember. We take turns telling stories, praying, and sitting some in silence. We find comfort in being in each other’s presence. We are a family, God’s family, and we are in mourning, sitting together, shedding some tears, talking about the one we love who has died an awful death. For a little while we go back in time and identify with those early disciples.
For one night we experience a fraction of the pain of those original disciples in thinking that Jesus was gone, gone forever. Even though Jesus had told them what was to come, on Friday they did not know it. Sunday was not to be imagined. So tonight is a time to put ourselves in their place and think as they did that Friday. What might it have been like to not know Jesus as the Risen Lord? What would it be like to not have Jesus in our life?
A critical part of our Good Friday experience is to live as witnesses of the horror and senselessness of the crucifixion. I have often wondered how could Mary, Jesus’ precious mother, have kept her vigil as her son suffered? His pain was so intense and real; how could she have remained there watching? And yet how could she not.
Tonight we remember and identify with these disciples and like them we look to find meaning in Jesus’ death.
When Jesus entered the upper room on the night before he died for us, he was tired. Exhausted. And afraid. He knew that death was coming, knew that his time was up. This would be his last meal on earth, his last night to spend with his friends. But instead of doing the things we might think a person would do if they knew they were about to die, Jesus does something unexpected. He takes off his coat, wraps a towel around his waist, pours water into a basin, and washes his disciples’ feet.
The whole scene is strange. We might imagine the surprise, even the distaste on the disciples’ faces. Because what was happening didn’t make sense. Barely a day had passed since Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem, and the people had hailed him as king. But now he was doing the work of a slave. What did this mean for their understanding of the Messiah? What does it mean for them? Up until that moment, they would never have imagined that this man would pick up a basin and a towel and begin shuffling around the room on his knees, washing the dust of the roads off of the feet of his followers. But here he was, doing just that.
What the disciples didn’t understand and what we so often forget, is that Jesus is a king who embraced humility. As St. Paul tells us, the Son of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking on the form of a slave, so that we might be saved. On the night before Jesus died for us, he showed the disciples what his love looks like: willingly humbling himself in order to serve and save his people.
Today, we enter into the story of Jesus’ last hours on earth. We walk with him into the upper room, we watch and listen as he breaks bread with his disciples, we wait with him as he prays in the garden. And the whole time, we know that the betrayer is coming. That the cross is coming. But in this moment, here, right now, Jesus invites us — despite our own exhaustion, our own worries and fears — to do as he has done. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus, in this small act of washing feet, challenges us. He challenges our love for honor and prestige, our debates about who will be the greatest. If you want to become great, he said, you must become small. Jesus challenges our distaste and embarrassment with the least and the lost. While we don’t want to look dirty, Jesus is on the ground washing off dirt, he’s eating meals with cheats and speaking to drunks and healing adulterers. And Jesus challenges our lack of love, our desire to correct instead of comfort. While we are picking and choosing who is worthy of our efforts, who is not “too bad to be worth saving,” Jesus is washing Judas’ feet.
This is a hard lesson and we may say to ourselves, “who can bear it?” But the good news is that Jesus has loved us unto the end, straight through Golgotha and beyond.
Jesus has shown us what it means to love as he loves; but we may not feel like we have the strength to do it. And we don’t; only Christ in his humanity and his divinity has the strength to love his own, even his enemies, unto the end — which is why he has given himself for our sake, not only in the act of service and humility, but in his very body and blood.
As we leave here today, we go out into a world that is just as broken, just as violent as the world in which Jesus lived. To love as Jesus loved is hard, and it can sometimes look just as odd as a king washing the feet of his servants. But Jesus calls us to follow him regardless. May we remember that and hope as we come to the Table — for Jesus has given us himself, that we might have the strength to walk beside him. AMEN.
Our Lenten pilgrimage has given way to Holy Week. We begin today the slow march with Jesus to the Cross and tomb, through Good Friday to Easter. And through the things we will do together over this week, we feel again the sublime truth about Christ, his humiliation, his exaltation, and his cosmic offer to take us along with him in that process.
We feel this year, perhaps more than any other in recent memory, how much evil and suffering there is in the world. Perhaps what happens to Jesus should come as less of a surprise to us this time around.
I’m sure every one of us has brought some aspect of what we’ve been through this past year with us today as we enter into what Jesus goes through on our behalf. Personal pain, family pain, global pain, whatever it is, we carry it with us into this great week long process that is bigger and more powerful than the things we bring with us.
And accordingly, we have just together proclaimed the passion Gospel, taking it into our voices, because that is where it belongs. If we want our life story to make sense, we have to find its meaning in Jesus’ story. We have to find ourselves in him.
If you believe that, you will want to live this week with Christ, whether in person, on Zoom, via video, or through the materials we’ve emailed out. This week we walk together with Jesus through the great events by which he won our salvation. Take everything you bring, all your pain, all your questions, all your hopes, and pour them into this. Let Holy Week do its work until we arrive at Easter. Let God bring you, in Christ, all the way to the real end of the story.
Things weren’t good in Jeremiah’s Jerusalem. The city itself had broken down into the kind of factions we see today — the wealthy oppressed the poor, the powerful ignored the plight of the weak, widows and orphans were left to fend for themselves. It had been this way for years; and the consequences were about to unfold. The LORD had warned his people that disobeying his commands and turning aside from his way would result in death and destruction; and death and destruction were on the way. Nebuchadnezzar himself was coming to lay siege to the city, and the survivors would be forced to return to Babylon with him, leaving their homes, their temple, and their land.
Everything was in chaos.
And yet this is the time that God chooses to share his promise, the hope of a new covenant, with Israel.
We’ve talked for the last month or so about the ways God has blessed his people, Israel, and through them, the world. We’ve looked at the promises made to Noah and Abraham and Moses, and all of them have been remarkable and beautiful. But this one is different.
Or perhaps we should call it surprising or counterintuitive — because it comes while the people of God are embroiled in the consequences of their own disobedience. It comes before they’ve figured out what they have done, before they have repented of their sins. God makes this new promise — a promise that features him as the only one doing anything — while humankind is still at odds with the one who made them.
C.S. Lewis once called the story of the Bible, which is the story of everything there is, a comedy — in the classical sense. Unlike a tragedy, which begins with everything being semi-okay and ends with most everyone dead, a comedy begins with everything wrong and ends with everything finally coming to rights. The road to that conclusion doesn’t have to be funny; it can actually be quite tragic. But we know, or the author knows, that the marriage feast awaits.
Ever since that fateful day in the Garden, God has been working to bring his people back to him — and we’ve fought him every step of the way. And yet he’s been forging ahead regardless, using imperfect and sometimes wicked human beings to accomplish his work, to bring us to the end he desires: that we should willingly, happily, joyfully be his people and recognize him as our God.
“Behold, the day is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. . . . I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. . . . For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
God doesn’t wait until his people are perfect, until they’ve recognized their sin and repented, to save them. As St. Paul writes, “when we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus, God’s own Son, put his life on the line because he wanted more than anything in the world to restore the community we once had with the LORD.
The day is coming for us, too, when we will see God face-to-face. Until then, though, know that however messed up we are, however imperfectly we live our lives, however unloveable we think we are, God is for us. He loves that which he has made, and he is working every minute of every day to save us, to bring us all to the happy end, when we will feast together at the wedding banquet of the Lamb. AMEN.
“ And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”
This morning, the fourth Sunday in Lent is the half-way point between Ash Wednesday and Easter. It is also known as Laetare Sunday, laetare meaning rejoice. Other names for the day are refreshment Sunday, and if you are in England, mothering Sunday. Being mid- way in the season the liturgical color is rose, a lighter version of the darker purple. Today I am reminded to thank Lil Larivee and Patti Gruber who made these particularly beautiful vestments that we only wear twice a year. Looking forward on this rose Sunday, we celebrate the hope that is to come at Easter. And pausing at this mid-point we are prompted to make use of the season before Lent is over until next year.
While it is nice to have a set end to the season we know that much of life does not give us an exact mid point where we can say, four more weeks and this trial or tribulation will be done. Yet, while we may not be able to pinpoint the exact middle of something it is good practice for us to realize in other trying times of life, that this too will pass; there will be an end. There is hope that comes with acknowledging the finish.
If you were to find the most reliable, most level-headed person in your life, and you were to ask them if you should go into a high-stakes real estate venture with someone who constantly messes up, who can’t manage to be on time to anything, and who doesn’t know the difference between weekdays and the weekend, your friend would almost certainly say don’t do it. In fact, I don’t think you’d need to find your wisest friend or mentor. Most people would say that committing yourself to a person like that is a bad idea. Just go find someone different, someone better or more mature. There are plenty of people like that out there. Take your pick.
But then, what if you decided to just ignore their advice and go ahead with the partnership? Would you blame your mentor for thinking you foolish? You knew what you were getting into before signing the dotted line; and yet you did it anyway.
Curiously enough, we see a very similar situation playing out in our OT reading this morning. Except this time, it’s not a business proposition between you and your neighbor down the street — it’s a covenant between God, the creator of the world and everything in it, and Israel, a people who will quickly prove that they just can’t get it right, whether or not they try to do so.
Three months after the Israelites escaped from Egypt, they arrived at the base of Mount Sinai. Bedraggled and footsore, they set up camp while Moses climbed the mountain to talk to God. And the LORD said: “Tell this to the house of Israel: You have seen what I did to Egypt. You have seen how I brought you out of slavery. Now, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you will and always shall be my treasured possession, a jewel among all people; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Now, it’s interesting that God would say this, would so willingly enter into a covenant with the Hebrew people — because the Israelites have spent the last three months grumbling, forgetting entirely what God has done for them, even going so far as to say to Moses: “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.”
But despite all this, God chose to commit himself to them anyway. “If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant,” he says, “you will be mine, and I will love you more than anything else I have made.” And in a storm of thunder and lightning, the LORD does so, giving his people the 10 familiar commands that will shape their relationship, that will allow a sinful people to live with a holy God. And Israel, terrified of the storm and of the idea of a God being so involved with them, fell to their knees and worshiped, awed and honored at the beginning of this new covenant.
Now, if we were to stop there, it looks like things will turn out well. The Israelites are amazed and thankful at their change in fortunes, and God has chosen a people to be his people. They will move forward together, traveling out of the desert and into the land of Canaan, the land God had promised to Abraham all those long years ago.
But, and there is always some kind of caveat in this fallen world of ours, the Israelites had already proven that they weren’t up to the task. They had doubted, forgotten, grumbled, failed. Within a few short days of this new beginning, the Israelites will have already built an idol, a golden calf, thinking that this was the god for them. What was God thinking to get involved with such a people? Another nation, another family would definitely have done better. We would have done better.
Would we have done better? It can be easy for us at this point to think that if we had been in the same situation as the Hebrew people, we would never have been so unfaithful, so difficult. If we were hungry and afraid, we would rely on God to feed us, to protect us. If we were impatient, thinking that God had forgotten us, of course we would remember the deeds he has done in the past.
But would we, though? It really only takes a second, a moment of introspection to realize that we are no different than the people of Israel. We grumble. We doubt. We forget. We fail. As St. Paul writes, all have been consigned to disobedience . . . no one is righteous, no not one.
So what was God thinking? God knew what he was getting into, when he bound himself to such a stubborn people. He knew that the Israelites would stray from him, and he knew that we wouldn’t be much better.
What, then, does that make of God’s promise?
If we were to return to our wise friend, who told us from the very beginning that we shouldn’t trust someone unreliable with anything important, they would be justified in saying that we should just end our partnership and look out for better options. Some folks just won’t change. Better to abandon them than to continue digging ourselves into a hole.
But that’s not what God does. He ignores such seemingly wise counsel and continues to commit and recommit himself to people who have a very bad habit of taking him for granted. In fact, as the story continues, we find that the LORD is so intent on saving the Israelites that he will actually die for them. For us.
The logic of God’s actions, as St. Paul describes it, is totally foolish according to the world’s standards. No matter what we say or think about ourselves, in our heart of hearts, we would never willingly die for a people, let alone a person, who constantly insulted us, disrespected us, took us for granted. We don’t want anything to do with people like that. We actively try to get away from them. Yet God did the opposite. He does the opposite. He not only didn’t abandon the creatures who betrayed him in the garden, he came to earth so that he could lead their children — Jew, Gentile, you, me — out of the wilderness of sin and into the promised land of eternal life. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Throughout the story of Scripture, throughout the history of the Church, God chooses the weak and the foolish, the inept and the unreliable to accomplish his work. In short, he chooses to work through human beings like you and me. He knows that we have “no power in ourselves to help ourselves,” yet he commits himself to us regardless. Because of that commitment, because God is radical, relentless love, we are today his kingdom of priests, his holy people regardless of the fact that we just can’t get it right, whether or not we try to do so. No matter what we have done, no matter the regrets we have or the mistakes we’ve made, God will not abandon us. He has staked his very life on it. His is a purpose we may not understand, but his is a Word that is unshakeable. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” AMEN.
“I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”
The Old Testament readings for Lent in this year B encourage us to think about covenants, which are special kinds of promises or commitments. Last week we heard of Noah. In that covenant God promised to never destroy the entire earth again by a flood. Today the covenant is with Abram whom God renames Abraham in this lesson to mark God’s promise to make him the father of many nations. We are told that Abraham and Sara will become the ancestors of God’s people, both the famous and the common. (Into that lineage David and eventually Jesus will be born.) As a preview, next week the first lesson will be about Moses and the Ten Commandments. In fact, each of the Old Testament stories in year B is about covenants. A common theme in these lessons is that the promises being made come first and most strongly from God rather than what human beings such as Noah, Abraham, Sara and Moses promise in return.
So, I wonder this morning, what exactly is a covenant and how does this type of a promise work? Is it like a pact or a treaty or simply an obligation? Is it the same as a contract, which my thesaurus uses as a synonym? Personally I don’t think so.
A contract carries a legal aspect to it, at least in our society. Each party involved signs on to exactly what is written on the document. In a contract each party agrees that I have to do certain things and in return you have to do certain things. If one of us breaks the contract there will be consequences which are usually spelled out in the document. We agree to exactly what is stated in the contract, nothing more. What we sign to is the minimum—we are not required to go beyond what is on the paper. You can make a contract with someone without caring for them or without really even knowing them. It is a “business” arrangement. You can sign a contract with someone you despise and still fulfill the provisions of the agreement.
Linus and Lucy are standing at the window watching it rain. You know who they are, I’m sure -- two of the children from the classic comic strip Peanuts. The cartoon I’m thinking of is based on today’s Old Testament lesson from Genesis 9. Lucy says, "If it doesn't stop raining everything will be washed away."
"Oh no!" Linus assures her. "Genesis chapter 9 says that never again will God wash everything away."
A relieved Lucy says, "Thank you, that is a great comfort to me."
Linus replies, "Sound theology will do that."
The story of the flood, despite the fact that it comes from the most ancient and murkiest period of stories handed down in Scripture, actually has a lot to teach us. It is full of sound theology -- which, as Linus reminds us, is the only kind that really works because it is the only kind that describes reality.
The story goes that God looked down on earth and saw what a mess people had made of everything -- of the ecosystem, their government, their communities, and their own lives. So, they say, God decided to try and solve that problem by ditching his whole "creation experiment," flooding the world out, and starting over again with a better gene pool. (We may smile at how simple this sounds, but let's remember that stories like this have played an important role in people's spiritual lives for centuries.)
Only Noah and his family, who had so far shown nothing but obedience to God's Word, were allowed to take refuge from the flood and save their lives. Surely a planet with nice folks like this as its ancestors would turn out better. So they build their ark, load on enough animals to repopulate the world, and set sail. They pass through the waters, and the ark keeps them safe, and when they have made it to dry land everything starts over again.
But then what happens? Just a few verses later, good-guy Noah reveals himself as bad-guy Noah, getting blind drunk and passing out in the living room, and his family in turn begins behaving as dysfunctionally as you might expect the family of such a man to. So much for the idea of starting a new world with only the nice people. And in fact, as Genesis goes on to the story of the tower of Babel and of the patriarchs and matriarchs, it's clear that the world is just as full of violence and lies and bigotry as it was before the flood.
So where’s the comfort and the sound theology Linus is talking about in this story? Well, it all turns on God's choice to make a promise.
You probably noticed that Genesis 9 repeated several times the word "Covenant." God says over and over that now that the flood is finished, he is making a covenant. A covenant in Hebrew society usually was a two-way deal, like a contract. This covenant, however, is different. It's not a two-way deal. God promises something, but Noah doesn't have to promise anything back. He doesn't have to earn the benefits of the covenant. He just has to be in the covenant -- like all he had to do to be saved from the flood was to be in the ark -- and like all we have to do to be saved from nothingness is to be in Christ. And in fact, God says the covenant is not just for Noah and his family, but for every living creature, the entire earth.
So note that God doesn't tell Noah, "If you do these sacrifices and don't sleep around and don't tell lies and don’t miss worship too much, I will be good to you." He says, "I myself unconditionally am making a promise. Here is what I covenant with you: I will be for you, not against you. And I am putting a rainbow in the sky as a reminder to you and to me and to the entire creation of what kind of God I am."
The story reads almost as if God has figured out something very important: that relying on human goodness will not produce reliable results. We can't be counted on to behave the way we ought, and even when you think you have managed to create an environment which will exclude the so-called bad people, badness just crops up again. So rather than promising to give people what they deserve, God promises not to give us what we deserve. He promises to be for us, to take the responsibility for goodness himself.
Throughout this Lent we will see in our first reading a series of Old Testament covenants. And what they show, and Scripture in general shows, and our own daily lives show, is that no matter how much people try to better ourselves and live our best lives, or to exclude and cancel others whom we think have transgressed, God does not deal with us that way. God’s love and forgiveness are never because of what we do but always because of who he is. God's solution to the problem of people being so unreliable is to be reliable himself, and invite us to rely on him.
The ultimate invitation to rely on God comes in the story this season of Lent leads up to: God goes to the Cross to die for our sins and rise for our redemption, and he welcomes us all into the living ark of salvation that is Jesus Christ. We are saved not because of what we do, but because of who God is. That's a great comfort to me, but no surprise there -- sound theology will do that.
One of the great Presbyterian preachers of the past generation, Horace Allen, used to talk about how uncomfortable it is to hear the Gospel of Ash Wednesday right before ashes are administered. He’d put it this way: “So, first you proclaim the words of Our Lord: And whenever you fast, do not look dismal and disfigure your faces, and then you say: now kindly please come up and disfigure your faces.”
A seeming irony, but one that doesn’t go very deep. As usual, Jesus is not really giving a command that can be fulfilled by following one specific outward rule, by controlling what you do to the skin on your face. He’s not a simplistic thinker like that. Instead he’s talking about the attitude of the will. What Jesus is warning against is using self-presentation as a way to feel superior to others. In his day if you showed off that you were keeping a fast for God, that self-presentation won you acclaim; you would likely feel very proud to go out in public visibly marked with a sign that you were under a religious vow of fasting.
I doubt there are many people here who feel like that about the blotch you’ll have put on your foreheads when you leave. If you will be out in public in any way, my wager is you’re much more likely to feel a little embarrassed about your black stain than proud of it. The era when American culture admired the Christian way of life and honored its symbols is over; few people have any idea what this sign of ashes even means anymore. Lots will just think you forgot to clean your face.
As so often with Jesus, we need to read his specific commands looking for the intention of the will he is getting at:
Whenever you give alms, he says today, do not sound a trumpet before you.
And whenever you pray, do not…stand and pray at the street corners, so that you may be seen.
And whenever you fast, do not look dismal and disfigure your faces so as to show others.
What’s the intention he’s looking for? What kind of person would you be if it would never occur to you to do any of those kinds of things? One that doesn’t need to feed your own ego with self-presentation, but is free to act for God alone.
So in our day, it may actually fulfill the point of Jesus’ teaching better if you deliberately do leave the ashes on your face, to feel that ego embarrassment that comes with caring what others think. I think it also fulfills his point to have to receive ashes in the contactless way we are doing it this year, from individual cups. It’s awkward. It will probably not work as well as having the clergy put our thumbs on your foreheads. Your cross may not be as well-formed and dark as it might have been last Ash Wednesday.
But again – all of this makes it just a little less possible for us to feel pleased with ourselves that we are keeping Lent. And a little more aware of the sting of our own egos wanting to be gratified, and thus a little more able to notice our need for God’s grace. And noticing our need for God’s grace is what this season is all about. So I invite you to stand now as we enter into this holy season, and then we will kindly come on up, and disfigure our faces.
Have you ever been reading a book, a good book, and you’re going along, mildly interested, when suddenly, something pops up—it could be a gun in the first act or a riddle on the lips of a wise old woman—and gives you this feeling that you can’t shake. Something big is going to happen before the end of this story, something that we can’t necessarily predict but that will no doubt have us completely engrossed until we turn the last page and realize it’s two in the morning.
That hint of what’s to come, that foreshadowing, keeps us reading, keeps us interested whether out of delight or morbid curiosity. It gives us something to look forward to, something to hold onto as we slog through the battlefields and hunt down the clues alongside our favorite characters.
When Peter, James, and John hiked up the mountain beside Jesus so long ago, we might wonder what kinds of hints and foreshadowing occupied their minds. They had known since the beginning that Jesus was different. They watched as he healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and released the demon-possessed from their captors. And when he spoke about the Scriptures, even his enemies listened because of the authority in his voice. Could this be the Messiah? they wondered. But none had gotten so far as Peter, whose sudden revelation even he could not explain. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” And he was right. Jesus was their long-awaited savior, their much anticipated king.
But just as the news began to sink in, Jesus said that he would suffer and die before rising again. He was a king who would not ride into Jerusalem on the back of a warhorse with an army marching behind him. He was a king who, rather than leading his troops to victory, was taking them toward what appeared to be utter disaster: “If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps he must give up all right to himself, take up his cross and follow me. For the man who wants to save his life will lose it; but the man who loses his life for my sake will find it.”
The memory of that moment and of Jesus’ words continued to reverberate through the minds of Peter, James, and John as they climbed the mountain that morning. What good was a king who seemed so intent on dying? What good could this man accomplish for the nation of Israel and for the world when he lay cold and dead in a tomb, his followers hiding for fear of the crowds.
It looked hopeless, pointless.
Heads down, watching the trail for loose stones and shifting sand, the three disciples hardly noticed that they had reached the top of the mountain because a light brighter than the sun suddenly shown before them. Jesus stood only a few steps away, yet they could barely recognize him—for he radiated with the power and glory of the God who spoke at Mt. Sinai. “This is my Son,” came a voice from on high. “Listen to him.”
And in that light, the ending of this story was revealed. Jesus showed the disciples his glory, not only the glory he once had, but the glory he would have once more in his kingdom. Peter, James, and John couldn’t have known as they hiked down from the mountain that day that what Jesus said about his suffering and death was inextricably linked with the vision they saw. It wasn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection that they began to look back, to reread his story and their memories of Jesus, looking for the clues and hints they had missed along the way. For, in the end, it was precisely Jesus’ road of suffering and pain and death that would lead to his glorification, his radiance and exaltation.
That is the reality to which we cling. Our Lord suffered and died so that we might be saved, that we might join with him and all the saints in life everlasting. And on that day, when we see his face, the light of his countenance will also become ours. For Christ’s glory was only part of what God revealed on that mountain. The future glory of Jesus belongs not only to Christ, but also to his disciples, to you and to me. Our day-to-day suffering and the afflictions that plague us are actually preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison to what we have experienced in this life. In his transfiguration, Jesus shows us the outcome, the finale of taking up our cross and following him. As Christians, Christ’s life is our life. And we are not only baptized into his death, but also into his resurrection and glory.
Our lives can often seem like a mystery, filled with ominous forebodings and strange signs that try to loosen our grasp on the hope we have in Jesus. But what we have today, what we see on that mountain, is resurrected glory. It is an utterly reliable promise from God himself that—even before he steps foot in Jerusalem, before the bread and the wine and the kiss and the cross—he will be glorified in the end, that all will work out as he intended. Jesus knows that suffering and death await him, and we know that the same may wait for us. But we have this promise, God’s promise, that the light of Jesus Christ “shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never put it out.” AMEN.