Friday, October 17, 2008

Sleeping through Glory

"Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him."

I've never been much of a morning person and I've always been good at sleeping. I am not one to be up pacing the floor at night with sleep escaping me. If they gave award for falling asleep in class, or watching a movie, I could win a prize.
Today, I am heartened by this passage from Luke - the story of the transfiguration. Peter, James and John almost missed it. While Jesus was praying, they were sleeping. Out cold, oblivious to the presence of flashing lightening, brilliant light everywhere and the patriarchs of the faith. They almost missed the whole deal. I can see the picture now, with Jesus bent in prayer and the light moving in and surrounding him while the three stooges lay by his side, sacked out and snoring. They almost missed the entire event. An event which is one of the most important feasts in the Church year.

I for one am thrilled by Luke's telling of the story. God, in full glory, surrounds Jesus, loving parent to beloved son, and the champions of the faith stand in too. The sleepy disciples witness a family gathering, a tender and powerful moment in Jesus' earthly ministry. Jesus did not leave them out although they were human, frail and prone to falling asleep on the job. God did not punish or reprimand them but spoke directly to them about loving relationship and about being a disciple. Enveloped and terrified by the cloud, the near and tangible presence of God, the three drowsy disciples hear, "this is my Son, whom I have chosen: listen to him." And then they were alone with Jesus. God's presence in this mystical moment etched on their hearts and new kind of commitment and understanding. Love was made real in the words spoken, the signs seen. And they nearly missed it.

Today, I want to remember that God reaches out to all of us, whether we are fully conscious and fully aware or half awake and stumbling. Jesus took his very human friends with him to the mountain because he loved them, not because they were perfect. They rarely got things right and they were easily distracted. And it was these same men that came off the mountain with Jesus and followed him to Jerusalem. To the cross, to the place of torture and death. And they followed him to the resurrection and beyond. Today, I want to hold the small glimpses of God's glory in mind as I face the coming days, knowing that Jesus' love for all of us is not diminished by our humanity. He asks us to go with him, despite our worst failings. May we all go with him today, following the one who looks not at our shortcomings but to the needs of the whole world.

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