Yesterday I posted excerpts from two bloggers’ entries which note the juxtaposition between the Transfiguration (the focus of the Gospel lesson in yesterday’s lectionary) and Lent, which begins on Wednesday.
Today, I discover yet another blogging friend and pastor is reflecting on this theme of the Transfiguration in relation to Lent. I suppose that’s not surprising…! But I’m struck by this continued refrain nonetheless. This time it’s Lutheran pastor Eric Swensson who’s reflecting on this juxtaposition, in what appears to be his sermon from yesterday: Turn, Turn, Turn
Here’s a key excerpt from Eric’s sermon:
The message today is called “Turn, Turn, Turn!” and concerns the need for humanity to turn toward God.
Ps 119:37 says “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” Turn away from worthless things toward something worthwhile. In some cases we need to rid our lives of really bad things, some times it is just junk, silly stuff that gets in our way, whatever it is, as Ecclesiastes says, life is about “A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away..” Think about what you need to lose and what you need to get.
I want us to talk about 1) what we gain from turning our eyes away from worthless things and turning our eyes upon Jesus, 2) what averts our eyes away from Him, 3) how to avoid turning away and 4) what is the greater good when the Church keeps its eyes on Jesus.
What you gain by focusing on Jesus is seen in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” You get a Savior, a Shepherd, a Sustainer, a Sanctifier. Ps 119:37 preserve my life according to your word.” What you gain by focusing on Jesus is salvation.
Perhaps the reason these sermons & poems/prayers re: the Transfiguration are so striking to me at the moment is that it is so easy when thinking about Lent to focus on the things we want to give up and change, the negative things in our lives… the sins we need to overcome. But what the Holy Spirit seems to keep reminding me about this week — hitting me over the head with it really — is that what Lent really needs to be about, at least for me right now, is fixing our eyes on Jesus, of growing in my desire to be with Him, of living in His light and letting His glory shine through me.
As Fr. Tim Fountain reminded us in his sermon yesterday, we can’t chase away the “shadows” of the world, the flesh and devil in our own strength. No. Instead we need to seek Christ and let His light disperse those things in our lives.
And the excerpt I posted today from Preparing for Lent from the Creighton University “Praying Lent” site also reminds us that Lent is not about our own efforts and what we do or give up. It’s about desiring Christ more and receiving more of His grace. It’s His grace that changes us, not our own efforts.
Keeping the Transfiguration in sight on the eve of Lent is so helpful because it gives us such a clear and dazzling goal, the goal of being able to enjoy a clearer vision of the Lord’s glory and to have His glory reflected in our own lives. That’s what I really want Lent to be about for me this year. I want to daily turn more to Christ so that the veil, the things of this world that obstruct my vision of Christ and block His glory from being seen in me, will be taken away.
2 Cor 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Cor 4:6
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
(posted by KB)