Saturday, February 21, 2009

Love Not Fade Away

22 February 2009/Last Epiphany * 2 Kings 2:1-12/Mark 9:2-9
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
Pop Quiz
We may as well acknowledge that this is the singularly most mysterious episode in the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

So the text in Mark begins, “Six days later….” Six days later than what? Than when Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter answered, correctly, “You are the Christ!” Then Jesus told them that he would suffer many things, be rejected, killed, and after three days he would rise again. And he followed that by saying those who want to become a follower of his must pick up their cross “and follow me.”

Of course six days later is one way of saying what? “On the seventh day…” which for the Bible means much more than just “a week later.” God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the Seventh. The seventh day is ordained in the Ten Commandments as a day of Sabbath rest. Sabbath rest is meant to take us out of the tedium of our day to day activities and thoughts and use the time to experience the nearness of God.

Which Peter and James and John seem to do on this particular seventh day. Why does this take place on top of a mountain? Because the air is thinner, so there’s a better chance of breaking out of this world into God’s presence. And besides, these kinds of encounters always happen on top of mountains.

Take Moses, for instance, who sat atop Mount Sinai six days and on the seventh God spoke to him. Or, take Elijah, who hid in the crevice of a mountain top only to hear “the still small voice of God” as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob passed by.

And oddly enough the Bible offers no narrative account of either of them dying – Moses just disappears from the narrative, and Elijah, as we just heard in 2 Kings, flies off in his chariot of fire into the wild blue yonder we know not where! They just seem like the kind of guys Jesus would chat with.

So, who better to see with Jesus than experienced mountain top experiencers than Moses and Elijah – the Law and the Prophets. The text tells us they are talking, but fails to tell us what they are talking about. We can be sure it is not about A-Rod and whatever substances he may have abused. Probably not about the Stim Package or bipartisanship either.

Then Peter decides to get into the conversation with this notion of setting up three dwellings, or tents. Why tents? Could be because that is how the people Moses led lived in the wilderness for forty years? Perhaps, it has been suggested, he wants to turn this into an extended mountain top experience. In any event he seems to have forgotten what Jesus had said six days ago, which mitigates against holding this show over for one more week.

Besides, Peter almost gets it just right when he proclaims, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here!” He gives voice to our deepest human desire for a vision of God and close communion with the divine. I say almost, because next of course comes “The Voice!”

Where have we heard this voice before? That’s right. Jesus heard this voice at his baptism in the River Jordan, saying almost the very same thing. Only now it appears to be a corrective to Peter calling Jesus “rabbi.”

“This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” We can imagine it being a thunderous voice, coming out of a cloud and all. So this is no ordinary rabbi chatting it up with Moses and Elijah. This is God’s own Son, the Beloved. Now there are at least three others, and of course those who read and hear this Gospel, who have heard this proclamation – Peter, James and John have now heard the voice Jesus heard at his baptism. They and they alone now know for sure that this is God’s Son, the Beloved.

Just to make sure, Mark puts the same message in the proclamation of a centurion at the foot of the cross, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” Which seems to be the point of all this – to make sure we know just who Jesus is. So that when Jesus asks us, “Who do you say that I am?” we will know just what to say.

A couple of interesting things in all of this. Curious, isn’t it? That God, the offstage voice, instructs us to listen to Jesus. God could just as easily say, “Listen to me.” But of course a Trinitarian view of this suggests saying “Listen to him” is much the same thing as saying “Listen to me.”

Do we ever truly understand how deeply God desires for us to listen to what God has to say? Can we begin to see how it is that God initiates this relationship with us? Do we really take the time to “listen to him?”

Which leads to point number two – this is happening on the seventh day, or the Sabbath. Does it not make sense that they would have a mountain-top experience of the divine on the Sabbath? Is this not, after all, the whole point of Sabbath time and Contemplative-Centering Prayer – to experience the presence of the divine? To enter into more intimate communion with God in Christ? To listen to Him?

All of this rightly sends us back to that moment in the River Jordan when the heavens are torn apart, the Spirit descends like a dove, and the voice proclaims to Jesus, “You are my Beloved; I am well pleased with you.”

Could it be that the point of this most mysterious of all episodes in the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is that wherever we are, whatever we may feel at a particular moment, we will never be truly far from the One who is the source of our life and our hope? By water and the Holy Spirit, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ. We are made God’s Beloved! God is well pleased with us! God loves us. We love God. You know our love not fade away!
You are my Beloved
I am well pleased with you

I am God’s Beloved
God is well pleased with me

I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be
God’s gonna give God’s love to me
I’m gonna love God night and day
You know our love not fade away

Our Love’s bigger than a Cadillac
God ain’t never gonna take it back
God’s love’s bigger than an SUV
No one can take it away from me
You know our Love not fade away

If you don’t believe I’ve been redeemed
Then come on down to Jordan’s stream
Up in the Sky what do you see
The Holy Spirit comin’ down on me
The Holy Spirit comin’ down on me

I'm gonna tell you how it's gonna be
God’s gonna give God’s love to me
A love to last more than one day
A love that's love - not fade away
Love that's love - not fade away

© Sounds Divine/K A Kubicek

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