Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sacred Encounters

I jokingly say that I have a sacred encounter every time I take that first sip of coffee or have a bite of chocolate. After all, why else would they serve coffee and chocolate for breakfast in Taize'?

Seriously, the Transfiguration in Mark 9 is a Sacred Encounter we might wish to experience. Who wouldn't want to see the glory of Jesus revealed as he stands in the presence of long gone heroes of the faith, Moses and Elijah? Except that if I am honest, I have to admit I would be more likely to act like Peter and escape the uncomfortable divine reality with my favorite - BUSYNESS.

Yes busyness and hyper-activity are a great way to avoid dealing with reality, even Divine Reality. I can avoid what I'm feeling because I'm too busy to feel. OR at least it will buy me time for my mind to process what is going on and keep my emotions out of the way.

Or I might just decide to IGNORE the experience altogether and pretend it didn't happen. Yep, that's another favorite, just get right back to what I was doing. And this response would seem to fit so well with Jesus' command to the disciples to 'keep their lips zipped' at least for a bit.

Or I could get intellectual and examine the story in great depth and explain the white clothing as a foreshadow of the resurrection. For Mark's gospel, it could BE the resurrection story, since the original ending has none. With Mark, he'd rather have us just KNOW what the ending is from all that we've seen of Jesus anyway. So the transfiguration could just BE his resurrection story - in advance.

Or I could slip into a little humor and jab the other disciples because after all, an experience like this has got to be good for a laugh or two, right? (Even if its at Peter's expense.)

But if any of these are my only response I would miss the 'thin place' of encountering God on the mountaintop. Mindie Burgoyne ( says,

"Thin places are ports in the storm of life, where the pilgrims can move closer to the God they seek, where one leaves that which is familiar and journeys into the Divine Presence. They are stopping places where men and women are given pause to wonder about what lies beyond the mundane rituals, the grief, trials and boredom of our day-to-day life. They probe to the core of the human heart and open the pathway that leads to satisfying the familiar hungers and yearnings common to all people on earth, the hunger to be connected, to be part of something greater, to be loved, to find peace."
I know I need those thin places and I do long for them even if my first reaction is to run from such deep feelings. How wonderful to be in the presence of God and to see Jesus standing on the mountain with others who have been 'raised up'. How reassuring would it be?

Perhaps there is a message for me in Jesus' secretive words. I need to ponder these things in my heart while the story unfolds until the kairos time arrives. The experience of thin places can give me strength and assurance to act when I am called to stand up or be raised up in my following of Christ, the Holy One.

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