I always struggle with the scripture for this week.I don' know why. It's really great stuff with a great theme, transfiguration. All of us have seen others change in dramatic ways. We watch our children do it as the years go by, we watch ourselves do it simultaneously. Maybe my struggle is the fact that change and transfiguation are an ongoing part of life. Kind of life death and taxes ... it can't be avoided. Just for simplicity sake I'm gonna use the words change and transfiguration intechangeably.
Change scares people! It scares me. As times change and years go by you can't help but pine for the good old days. Everything is different. Everything looks different. Our cars look different. Our homes look different. Our Church looks different. We look different! Jesus was there at the top of the mountain with a couple of his close companions. Suddenly in the midst of their time away everything looked different even Jesus. The disciples came to see him differently and know his divinity more fully. That particular change was a real good thing because they came to finally understand that God's love was being delivered to the world in the form of a humble human being.
Friday, February 10, 2012
I have fond memories of reading the Kings lesson to my daughter Katie. It seems like her little children's Bible always opened to the story of Naaman the Leper. It's a great story about a great military commander and hero who is sick with leprosy. In the midst of his complaints one of the maids in his house suggests that he turn to the prophet Elisha for help. Naaman is skeptical because he is a mighty and powerful person who has achieved much due to his military prowess. He seems to say, "how could a prophet from an area I defeated help me?" Yet, he goes anyhow and Elisha is not impressed with Naaman or in a hurry to help. When he does finally see him he suggests that Naaman bathe 7 times in the river Jordan. Naaman doesn't like that suggestion. In fact, he finds it offensive. After all he has rivers in his own country that are nicer ... why turn to an ugly, muddy river in Israel? So, he doesn't bathe in the Jordan and he doesn't get healed.
Naaman will finally relent and go to the Jordan and bathe 7 times just like he was told. No more half measures, he just goes and gets it done. The bathing allows him to emerge from the water with his skin restored like, "the flesh of a young boy.
How many of us have taken shortcuts in life? I have. I've also tried to convince myself that shortcuts were a wise route to take. After all everybody takes shortcuts, right? Actually, history is full of examples of people who took short cuts and tarnished their reputation as a result. Look at all the athletes who have been caught taking performance enhancing drugs. Roger Clemens, Mark Mcgwire to name a few. I feel like God is speaking through scripture and saying "look at Naaman, you can't take short cuts."
Shortcuts are fun and often easy but they're not the way to go. They don't get us closer to God any sooner. In fact they distract us from God and often send us down the wrong path. Naaman tried to take a shortcut it didn't work. Roger Clemens tried a short cut, got caught and his reputation is sullied for ever.
I am reminded of the words of the Big Book of Alcoholycs Anonymous who said that "half measures availed us nothing.We stood at the turning point. We asked his protection and care with complete abandon."
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Looking for a good discipline for Lent 2012? How about joining me and our Bishop and read the Bible? That's right Bishop Gray has invited everyone to join him in reading through the gospels during Lent and Holy week. The pilgrimage begins on Ash Wednesday! So don't hesitate, get out your favorite translation or a translation that you've always wanted to try and sign up today. Signing up online at www.dioms.org allows you to subscribe to the regular commentary and postings from Bishop Gray. Or, you can contact me and I'll get you the calendar and breakdown for the readings.