Next Wednesday will be that rare and odd combination of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday rolled into one – the language of chocolates and confession, hearts and ashes clashing and creating an oddly contrapuntal texture to the day that will somehow work. And, with that as the background music, Lent will begin.
Lent with its deep purples, language of repentance, suggestions of self-denial. Lent with its talk of cross and darkness and facing the demons within. And, of course, Lent with its promise of coming spring, of Easter resurrection, of hope.
I find it fascinating that the lectionary United Methodists use place the story of the Transfiguration at the threshold of Lent. Some other traditions place it in August when days are long, and sunlight is plenteous. We observe it at the half way point of winter, just as light is reasserting itself, but we as find ourselves still under the grip of darkness and cold. We gather on a Sunday in February, poised to jump head first into Lent but we pause to catch one last glimpse of radiance, one last Sunday of whites and golds before surrounding ourselves with purple.
We will gather Sunday and read Mark’s version of what happened on that mountain (Mark 9:2-9). We will be reminded of how he shone in brilliance, see again how the three with him saw him for who he really is, and hear them speak too soon in misunderstanding. We will witness Jesus conversing with Moses and Elijah, be reminded that we, too, should be quiet for a season, and ponder the mystery of how one so radiant can release all the glory of light to enter life’s deepest darkness for the likes of us.
We will pause in worship and bask for one last moment in light and glory before stepping into the Lenten journey. It will be a richer journey if we make it together. So, I hope to see you tomorrow on the mountaintop.
Grace and peace.