This weekend has been glorious and tomorrow is Transfiguration Sunday! We have climbed already to the mountaintop. Last night children we love spent the night with us. Their very presence was incredible blessing. They had such news… study of the failure of the Roman Empire and stories of a new dog who chewed everything and their hopes for toe shoes in a little while and a youth outing at a trampoline park. What joy to do simple things in the pouring down rain watching old movies and eating cheeseburgers. Oh, Jesus, you knew it all along that welcoming children was key to abundant life and great joy.
Today, new neighbors moved into the house across the street. She grows and tends orchids. He is a bookseller. Their dog if the same dog General Patton had. Well not same actual dog, but the breed with the pointy ears and the proud nose bridge. For three years the house across the street has been empty. No lights. No life. We saw the moving truck and went to welcome them. Probably stayed too long, but oh, Jesus, you knew that we were called to welcome the stranger and to love our neighbor.
This evening we sat under the winter stars looking at the night and seeing the constellations people have seen from the beginning. Orion’s belt, that I named as a child : Inky, Red, Stripy – the cats and dogs of my childhood that I would remember every time I saw them in the winter sky. Oh, Jesus, you knew it all along that we would need signs… signs of your kingdom on earth as in heaven.
This weekend – the children – the neighbors – the stars – their very goodness and blessing stand in my heart and prayer this night. That goodness is in such contrast to what has happened in the world around me this week. The church I love is sad in the aftermath of a conference where different voices and cultures, mores, enlightenments, and understandings from lands far and near have left so many unsettled and uncertain about our future.
Oh, Jesus, you must have known the same strife as you spoke to those in your time who heard Scripture in legalistic ways, holding faster to the words of a particular circumstance than to the people who gathered, those with whom you had relationship, those to whom you spoke words of welcome and inclusion, forgiveness, mercy and grace. “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Oh, Jesus, what the lepers and the marginalized and the heavy laden must have felt in their hearts and lives when they heard you speak grace… the great exhale of fear… the great inhale of love.
Oh, Jesus, you would have known we would be small in understanding what God’s love really means. You died at the hands of those who did not understand. Your story is not yet finally told. We in the middle hope. We are telling that story now, we who are climbing up the mountain with you. And we will pitch a tent and wait to see you.