The third year of civil war in Syria is beginning. I think most of the refugees whose homes are left behind are destroyed. The homes of Moore, Oklahoma were a bundle of matchsticks after the tornado there last year. A house key is among a person’s most valuable possessions. Home is a very important part of human experience and longing.
Home is where the heart is.
“I’ll be home tonight,” the voice says over the phone, the electric current between speaker and listener intense.
“Country road, take me home,” sang the late John Denver.
The notion of home is so vital to us that we try to make homes for ourselves wherever we are, for our families, and our pets. For our God, we set apart space that seems sacred to us. There, we build altars, shrines, temples and churches.
Peter, in the Gospel of the Transfiguration we heard last weekend, expresses the human urge to honor the Holy One by building a kind of home for God up there on the mountain.
“Lord,” Peter says, “it is good for us to be here. Let us build tents for you and Moses and Elijah.” But it is not to be. Peter’s speech is cut short by the voice from the bright cloud which said:
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”
“Listen to him,” the Holy One says, and Peter, in his heart, listens. “No,” No, no home, no tents.
No lasting place of comfort. No place to linger.
They would have to go down the mountain, away from this blessed moment.
Sometimes in our 21st century lives, we too, experience the Transfigured Jesus, and we want to stay. But in the company of Jesus, we need to come down the mountain and head with Him away from our desires, our comfort zones and the securities of life, toward Jerusalem, death and, remarkably, new life.
“Get up! Don’t be afraid”, Jesus tells us. I will be with you, he assures us. But now, the transfigured companion of our life journey looks ordinary again. Is this really He? Will we go with Him down the other side of the mountain and beyond? That’s the question of the second week of Lent.
~Joan Sobala, SSJ