Lent invites us to live in community, with all its joys and challenges. Parker Palmer once wrote about a particularly challenging individual with whom he lived in an intentional community. Finally, that individual moved away, and Parker said that while he rejoiced at the person’s leaving, it took God less than a month to find someone else to annoy him!
Community is not about a perfect place filled with only the people we get along with best. It is about making a commitment to living as a community with all who show up.
In Matthew’s gospel we are invited to attend the transfiguration where Peter, James and his brother John are together with Jesus on a high mountain. (One might wonder if these brothers always saw eye to eye…)
While on the mountain these three saw Jesus transfigured and saw Moses and Elijah, talking together with Jesus. A voice from heaven spoke to them. After all this, on the way down from the mountain Jesus orders the disciples to keep it a secret, at least for the time being!
While on the mountain the disciples could appreciate the experience. They had a moment of mystery, of knowing the love of God in a deep and profound way. While on the mountain they could enjoy being in the presence of Jesus, Moses, Elijah and God. Community is good on the mountain. And it is fine to stay on the mountain for a while…but then, there is the coming down.
Times of difficulty and strife will come to Peter, James and John in the future. Community is not always easy and down off the mountain there is difficult work to be done and challenging conversations to engage in. Off the mountain we do the work of listening, of speaking truth and asking forgiveness. What might sustain us during regular time is our memory of our time on the mountain.
This Lenten season let us attend to the good and hard work of living as Christians in the world. Let us gather in our congregations week by week and listen again to the story of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
May you be sustained by the memory of the mountain top experiences of your life as you live in the real and very messy world.