In the Hebrew Scriptures, Abraham is asked to kill his own son as a sacrificial offering. He must have wondered what kind of tyrant a God is who asked him to take his own son’s life. Even so, he was willing to do what God wanted. Consequently, his son was spared, and he was blessed abundantly (Genesis 22:1-18). High on a mountain top, Jesus knows his Father wanted him to sacrifice his life on the cross. He must have been troubled at the thought of such a violent death. Still, knowing how painful it would be, he was willing to do what his Father wanted. As a result, he was transfigured right before the eyes of his disciples. His clothes became dazzlingly bright and the glory of God shone on his face and in his presence (Mark 9:2-10).
We are well aware of the agony, suffering and pain in our world. The hardship and grief caused by the pandemic. The subzero temperatures in parts of the United States and the resulting consequences of power outages, no heat, broken pipes and contaminated water and we wonder where God is. A mother’s anguish at having a stillborn baby, the sudden death of a young person and we ask what God is doing. A father loses his job, the family house might be taken, and we ask how God might provide some relief. We are faced with our personal pain and suffering and we question why God lets it all happen.
Then, almost ready to give up on God altogether, like Abraham and Jesus, we make an ultimate act of faith that comes from deep within us and we are transfigured. We know the tremendous strength, tranquility and peace that takes over which is almost impossible to explain. Somehow we are transformed because we handed ourselves over to God in a way that is beyond human explanation. We have shifted from thinking it is ridiculous to believe in a God who lets suffering happen to realizing it is more ridiculous not to believe.
You are a people whose faces have shown brightly, whose garments have been dazzling because you have known pain and felt betrayed and still said, “God, I believe, I trust.” The more we face the tough realities of life with faith and courage the more transparent that faith and courage become. They shine through our lives and sometimes even on our faces. In the midst of the many challenges of our times, together as disciples of Jesus, we can let our faces shine and our lives dazzle with the grace of God. May Lent be that kind of time for us.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector