Sacred Luggage (February 15, 2012)

…Opening To…

I caught a glimpse of Your splendor in the corner of my eye the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And it was like a flash of lightning reflected off the sky, and I know I’ll never be the same. (Third Day, “Show Me Your Glory”)

…Listening In…

Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified. (Mark 9:4-6; context)

…Filling Up…

Peter, it seems, cannot handle the raw data, this overabundance of visual stimulation brought on by Jesus’ dazzling appearance and the manifestation of Moses and Elijah. He’s terrified, and understandably so. Horizons seem to exist to limit our sight, and limits are comforting. When the horizons crumble, Peter doesn’t know what to say. But, being Peter, he says something anyway: “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Now, from all those stories Peter had heard, he knew that back when the people of Israel were wandering around the desert for forty years, they lugged about a special portable dwelling, a tent really. Inside this tent, they arranged all of their sacred luggage. The people thought the tent holy because they believed God, while eternal, omnipotent and ever-present, also dwelled in the tent.

So, when Peter suggests constructing a trio of tents, he is attempting to circumscribe the event unfolding in dazzling brightness before him. He is trying to erect temporary horizons, trying to control the situation, trying to jam the impossible back into a box consisting of normal, everyday things.

When Peter sees Jesus’ biological horizon crumble, revealing the dazzling brightness of Jesus’ connection to God, Peter’s first response is to put Jesus in a holy box in order to contain him. Peter had seen Jesus do some impossible things – feed five thousand with one person’s lunch, calm a storm, heal Peter’s own mother-in-law – but this, this transfiguration is something else entirely. You could explain away those other things if you wanted to: persuasion, charisma, being in the right time at the right place. You could store those other things in a box and refuse to believe the horizon between God and humanity is more permeable than was originally thought. (to be continued tomorrow…)

…Praying For…

Dear God, you are the one in control of heaven and earth. Help me to release my need to be in control, so that I can trust that you are guiding my life along the right paths. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, knowing that with you all things are possible.

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