Sunday, February 24, 2013

One More Year

Luke 13:1-9

It will be six years this spring --- and I'm still waiting for my lilac bush to bloom.

Here is how it went:

Sixteen years ago in the spring after my dad died, my friend, Midge, asked me to dig up a corner of the lilac bush which had bloomed in my folks' back yard for all the years we lived there. She wanted something to remember him by.   And so I did, packaging the roots in wet paper towels and transporting it several hours to her back yard. She planted it off the corner of her deck and within a couple of years it was showing off lovely purple blossoms.

In the years since, my mother moved from the big old farm house on the edge of town to a home which better suited her needs.  In the scurry of helping her pack and move and settle in, it did not occur to me to dig up such mementos to take along for her, for all of us, as well.

Six years ago next month Midge also died.  We gathered for her funeral in March.  A few months later, her family asked me to join them on a Sunday afternoon in May where together we would scatters her ashes on her husband's grave.

I drove the two hours directly from church to South Bend, Indiana that afternoon.  I met them at her house where her children were sorting and packing up a lifetime of memories and together we caravanned to the cemetery.  The service we shared in then was short.  In fact, it seemed as though the actual scattering took longer than the words spoken.  Again and again and again, I reached my bare hand into the urn pulling out handful after handful of ash.

Before I made the trip that day, I remembered that another friend had suggested that I dig up a corner of that lilac bush and bring it home.  And so as the sun was setting that afternoon I borrowed a shovel and with ashes still under my fingernails I dug up a shoot from that lilac bush, wrapped it in wet paper towels and propped it up in a plastic cup and brought it home.

I planted it the next day in the rain.  And I've been waiting for it to bloom ever since.

I've been told it takes several years for transplanted lilac bushes to bloom, but from all of my research it seems as though we are on the outer edge of that hopeful expectation.  The tiny sprig has grown into a shrub that now stands as tall as I do.  It leafs out every year.  Through my kitchen window I can see that the buds are ripe and are just waiting for the snow to melt so that it can leaf out once more.  This should be the year it blooms.  I am so hoping it is.

But if it doesn't, I can't imagine digging it up and replacing it with one from the local nursery.  This one holds too much of who I am and where I come from.  I played under its 'grandmother's' fragrant branches as a child. We cut its blooms and wrapped them in wet paper towels and aluminum foil and carried them as gifts to our teachers at the grade school down the street.  And of course by now it is also all caught up with memories of those I have cared for who have gone before.

And so it is so that I can completely understand the action of the farmer in Jesus' image today where he gives that fig tree one more year.  I can't imagine, though, that the tree Jesus speaks of now held nearly the same emotional value as does my lilac bush.  But even at that, the gardener insists on giving it one more year.

On the other hand, of course, Jesus isn't really speaking of trees and lilac bushes here.  He is actually speaking of the people God so loves and God's unending patience with all of us. So much so that even when it appears we will never bear fruit, even when we show no sign of repenting and returning to the One who gave us all we are and hope to be in the first place --- even then God would give us one more year.  And we can be certain that it's more than memories which move God to this unending patience.  Rather, it is a great and unending love for us which would always give us 'one more year.'

And yet, there is one way in which this story contrasts with my lilac bush.  For you see, I pretty much planted it and did little more to ensure its thriving.  The gardener in this story, and God in this analogy, keeps piling on the gifts which should lead us to bear fruit --- which should lead us home into God's presence.  Of course, the fig tree doesn't need to recognize the gift of the manure for it to do its work.  You and I are a little different.  Indeed, it seems to me we have to pray for open hearts and minds and spirits to be able to recognize those gifts which surround us, which are piled on top of us, reminding us of God's great love for us.  Thankfully, they are usually sweeter smelling than manure, these gifts of family and friends who share the journey with us; these gifts of all those things which nurture us body and soul: these gifts of health and strength, curiosity and joy, wonder and acceptance. All of these and so many more are all gifts from God's own hand --- shaping me into one who should only want to return to God's presence, not only once, but over and over again: like that fig tree which once it bears fruit, presumably keeps on doing so season after season.  And so I wonder now. Will I need one more year?  Why not now?

  • Why do you think the gardener in Jesus' story gives the fig tree one more year?
  • Are there other ways besides those mentioned above in which God behaves like the gardener does in relationship to God's people?
  • What are the gifts which, like manure, nurture you in life and in faith? 
  • What does our 'fruit' look like?  What role does 'repentance' play in your walk of faith?  In that of the life of your congregation?  Your community?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why a Chicken?

It's an odd story, this one, and but a moment in time.  Many of us have far more poignant stories than this one... this is just the one that comes to mind this morning.

I was in college and was traveling with my mother, returning from a visit to a friend.  We had stopped at a deserted rest stop and I had made my way to the ladies room.  My mom waited in the car.  As she sat, she glanced up to see a man emerging from behind the wooden structure.  She watched him and noted that his behavior was menacing.  When I stepped out to return to the car, I did catch sight of him, and was anxious enough that I picked up my pace.  When I looked up, I saw my mother.  She had opened her car door and was standing, eyes fixed on the man behind me.  She stared him down and he came no closer.

I am not a mother myself, but if my mother is any example, it never ends.  They willingly put themselves in harm's way to protect their young.  They will expose themselves to all kinds of dangers to ensure that the one they love is safe.  No matter how old the child is...  And yes, more than once I am sorry to say, I have stood by in our local hospital emergency room while a mother wept at her inability to save her young. 

And so it is that Jesus today compares himself to a mother hen who will do whatever it takes to protect those baby chicks from the menacing fox.  Even to the point of giving his own life in the hope that they will be spared.  Like the hen who gathers her young under her outstretched wings...

For the hen is no match for the fox, not really.  And yet that is the way of the Gospel, isn't it? It is the always the way of love and sacrifice over power and domination.  It is always courage over simple bravery.  It is always the willingness to stand up to, in the face of violence that threatens to take much that matters.

It is curious, though, that Jesus chooses the mother hen as his example and model.  I mean, hens are clumsy and messy.  They are not the majestic eagle, for instance, which are mentioned in other parts of scripture (Isaiah 40:28-31).   Why would Jesus choose the mother hen?

Perhaps it was just a handy image.  Maybe it was that then, as now, the hen was a frequent victim of the menacing fox and so the parallel simply worked.  And maybe it was something more.  For Jesus is spending his lifetime among those who have been marginalized by all sorts of debilitating illness.  Among those whose lives have been marked by failure and grief and loss of hope.  He has not been about hoarding his gifts for his own benefit, but about giving them away for the sake of a hurting world.  He is not 'smart,' like the fox, in the ways of the world, but he is 'smart,' or wise, in all the ways that matter.

And, in fact, I as I poked around this week, I learned that chickens are also smart.  Apparently, they can anticipate and plan and that they are capable of worry.  To be sure, these discoveries have been made by those who believe that if a chicken is anticipating its own demise it may actually affect the quality of the taste of your dinner entree. Still, it has some bearing on our conversation today to know that
"neuron organization in chicken brains is highly structured and suggests that, like humans, chickens evolved an impressive level of intelligence to help improve their survival."  (see the link to Animal Planet for the whole story.)
So Jesus chooses the smart, self-sacrificing, chicken as his model.  And you and I are those little chicks who seem bent on ignoring the efforts of the one who would save us from all that would threaten. 

And that is where the image finally comes home. We enter this story as that brood of chicks who are scattered, distracted, unable, somehow, to comprehend the very real danger which is threatening.  Jesus' lament over Jerusalem is also over you and me and this world which all too often still refuses the gifts Jesus would so freely give, when all it would take for us to survive the attack of the fox would be for us to stand still and stand nearby. 

So we gather in this season of Lent, knowing fully our need for repentance. And it would appear that our primary sin is what it has always been: our unwillingness to stand still in the presence of God: to simply submit to and receive and live into all the gifts God intends for us.

It shouldn't be so hard, and yet it is for it seems I am always prone to think that I am enough, that I know better, that I can do better --- or at least well enough on my own. 

So today I find myself joining in Jesus' lament over Jerusalem, not only for Jerusalem, but also for the community which I call home and for myself and all those I know who 'are not willing' as Jesus puts it today.  And I wonder what it would look like, how it might all change if I just take that first step and pause within this understanding and ask God to give me what it takes to simply stand still within his sacrificial protection, in his tender care.
  • Why do you think Jesus uses the 'chicken' as a metaphor for himself?  Why not something else?
  • How are we still like Jerusalem, like that 'brood' which 'is not willing?'
  • What are the 'foxes' which threaten still today and what difference would it make for us to stand near to Jesus as they approach?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Our Citizenship in Heaven

Philippians 3:17-4:1

It was one of those moments that always stays with you.
I was 17 years old.  It was early in the morning --- I was on a field trip with a handful of other seniors from a high school history class. We were traveling west on Route 20 through northern Illinois just west of Rockford.  I had a window seat in the third row of our rented van.  The rising sun was behind us and was over the horizon just enough for me to see it emerging into that early morning: an old red barn with the words "To God be the Glory" shingled in white on its otherwise green roof.

I have seen it many times since that first time, but I just happened to be driving that same highway again this last week and I remembered then the feeling that welled up inside me that early morning so long ago when that barn first came into view. For at that point, for me this journey of faith was particularly lonely as it can be for many young people --- no doubt, this is even more true today.  There were not many places, at least not among my peers, where matters of faith were acceptable to talk about and honestly, I felt out of place much of the time as I sought to make sense of my place in the world in light of what I believed.  So that early morning it simply filled me up with joy and wonder to receive this visible sign of others who claimed the same 'citizenship' as I. 

Today although the pressures often seem somewhat less for me than they did when I was so young, it is still true that you and I are always out of place in this world.   We have a ready parallel to this sense of 'out-of-placeness' whenever our journeys take us far from home, of course.  Indeed, as much as I love to travel, whenever I venture far from home, my passport is always within reach, assuring a safe passage home.  And when I finally close the door behind me after a long journey, I always do so with a sigh of relief, at the very least knowing that now I won't have to 'think so hard' to translate across time zones and cultures and languages. There is a certain vigilance that is required of those who are away from home and for all of the rewards of such journeys it is always good to leave it behind. I can't help but believe that this will also be so when we make that final journey home.
Home to that place which John's Revelation describes as one where God's presence will be evident --- where "God will wipe away every tear... where death will be no more ... where mourning and crying and pain will be no more... where all things will be made new..." (Revelation 21:3-5)

Home to that place which the prophet Isaiah envisions when he extends an invitation to a feast for ALL peoples and where, again, death will be swallowed up... (Isaiah 25:6-8)

Home to that place where all the wayward children know welcome, where no one will go to bed hungry, where all that divides us one from another will be destroyed.
This is where our citizenship actually is, Paul reminds us today, even now when it seems we are so far from home.  For in fact, in all the ways that matter, we are...
And so I wonder then, what it would look like if our every day was marked by our living as if this were so: to God's Own Glory, if you will  --- as that barn roof would remind us. 
I wonder what it would be if all of us who have been claimed by and who have claimed for ourselves this citizenship did all we could even now to stand in God's place and wipe away the tears of those who weep.

I wonder what it would look like if we all simply spread a feast for all we encounter the whole world over, remembering that God is the provider of it all and that God loves us all the same ...
Indeed, I wonder what my 'citizenship in heaven' means today as I take my car in for repairs, pick up some groceries, meet a friend for lunch, tend to a few errands for my mother, and stand with a grieving family tonight. 

I do wonder, don't you?

  • What does it mean to you that ultimately your 'citizenship' is in heaven? To your congregation?
  • Besides those cited above, which other Biblical 'images' of heaven are especially meaningful to you?  What do they offer about your 'citizenship' there?
  • Does your 'citizenship in heaven' make any difference in terms of the decisions you make, the actions you take, the posture you hold?
  • How does that 'citizenship' both extend a promise to you and place a demand on you at the same time?  Pause to simply think through yesterday and today and tomorrow.  What has it meant?  What will it mean?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Through Wilderness Times: Someone to Come Home To

I officiated at a funeral last Saturday.

I was not acquainted with the one who had died, except later through the family's stories, but they were in need of a pastor, and as I have said in this space before, when asked I always do my best to step in. 

I confess I was tired when the call came on Thursday.  It wasn't that I didn't want to do it, it had just been a long week already. Even so, I picked up the phone to arrange for a time to meet and I made the call. I wasn't sorry.

A little while later, I pulled into the driveway at the same time the family was gathering and they let me in through the garage.  We sat down around the kitchen table where I was greeted with "treasure" itself.  For they pushed across to me a pile of letters now seventy years old.  "POW Letters" is what the box had been labeled.  His daughters thought they were 'personal' --- between their mother and their dad and so they had never read them before that January afternoon.

They also spread out the scrapbook their mother put together which their dad had kept nearby since her death a few years ago.  Those now faded pages hold every piece of official correspondence she received from the moment his plane went down over Italy until he finally came home.

Spike flew with the Royal Air Force for he was a Canadian citizen first.  When his plane was shot down, he and his cohorts survived.  They hid out for a while before they were captured, but part of the wonder of his story is that this young man refused to stay imprisoned ... For in fact, Spike  was captured not once, but three times, escaping twice, every time doing all he could to make his way to the Allied front line. Trying to make his way towards home.  The story goes that he slept in a cornfield during the day, navigating his way through unfamiliar countryside by night.  They were tended by an Italian woman who made sure they didn't starve. No, he didn't make it home until the war ended --- they were captured once more --- but through it all, he kept trying. For as his grandson said to me, "He had someone to come home to."

So as I have sat with this remarkable story and now as I turn to the first Sunday in Lent, I am struck by the truth that Spike experienced something of 'wilderness' that I have only ever encountered on purpose or for relatively short periods of time.  Oh there are times of 'wilderness'  which life thrusts us into without our choosing, but at least for me, even those very dark, or very despairing or even very painful times have not been especially life threatening.  At least not yet. I know this is not true for all who read these words today.  Please know that I honor your journey and yearn to hear how Jesus' experience in the wilderness resonates with you now.

Still, as I heard this one story last week I found myself thinking of how it is that we get through such times.  And I wonder if it isn't always by remembering that we have something, we have Someone to come home to.  And I wonder if that wasn't exactly what sustained Jesus during his sojourn into the wilderness... particularly as he faced down the three temptations which confronted him as he ended those forty days. 

For the "Home" Jesus had in God was one where the 'bread' which sustains is so much more than that with which we nourish our physical bodies. And the "Home" which Jesus had was one where the values didn't rest on strength or power, but on servant-hood. And the "Home" that Jesus called his own was not one where the relationship should ever be 'tested,' but was one that was already long proven ---  one grounded in and shaped by love. To 'test it,' as the devil urges Jesus to do today, would have been downright insulting.To be sure, it is hard to imagine a genuine love where one would dream to ask the other to 'prove' that love when over time and space that love has, in fact, already been borne out over and over again. 

And so I wonder now how it is that you and I take this story as gift for our own times in the  wilderness.  Perhaps it is so that we also simply keep our eyes, our minds, our hearts, on "Home" and on the "Someone" who is there:   that precious place with God where our needs are satisfied, where we kneel before the hopes and hurts of a broken world, seeking to bring healing and to bear witness to God's promises --- and where we have somehow learned to trust in God's amazing love which will not ultimately, finally, let us be broken.  Which promises life.

I buried a veteran on Saturday who survived the sort of wilderness most of us cannot begin to imagine.  He kept his heart and mind on 'home' and and on the one waiting for him there.  Finally, he came home.  Perhaps it is simply ours to do the same.

  1. Every year on the First Sunday in Lent it is ours to ponder the story of Jesus' Temptation or Testing in the wilderness.  What do you hear in Luke's account that may be different from the others?  What strikes you on this reading?
  2. What might it mean for us to keep our minds and hearts fixed on 'Home' and/or the 'Someone' who is there, in times of struggle in the wilderness? How does one do this?
  3. Can you think of 'wilderness' times in your own life --- bidden or not --- where you have managed not to succumb to despair or to the sorts of temptations which Jesus withstood?  What made this possible?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Ashes and Dust and Broken Hearts

Psalm 51

It's an old story, this one, since the young man in question turned eighteen not long ago.  And yet, I remember it like it was yesterday the Saturday morning when I broke my nephew's heart.  I am telling you the truth when I say that I had a three-year-old standing at my feet weeping as though his world was coming to an end.  It even brought tears to my eyes to see him cry so, even though it would seem that the cause of his pain was no great reason for heartache.

For you see, I had cut Andrew's carrot in half.  His mother was busy and he had marched into the kitchen that morning and asked for a carrot. Thinking this was something I could certainly handle, I went to the crisper drawer in my mother's refrigerator, pulled out a carrot, washed and peeled it, and while he stood and waited, I asked if he want me to cut it in half. Truly, I did.  Certain that he had nodded yes, I did so. Apparently one of us misunderstood, though, for after I turned and handed it to him, he began to cry and begged me to fix it.

It was no time for reasoning.  I simply started over.  I went and got another carrot and washed and peeled it and handed it to him whole.  And though it may be making something large out of something small, as Andrew certainly did, still, I'll not forget that moment of pain and my own helplessness when a three-year-old demanded that I 'fix it' and I knew that no matter how hard I tried I surely could not put that carrot back together again. So I did the next best thing, grateful that it was not the last carrot in the drawer, and I started over.

It was a small thing, to be sure, and Andrew forgot it immediately as he went off to watch Saturday morning cartoons with his cousins.  And yet, it made me think then, and it does still, of all the ways in which we fail each other --- intentionally or not.  Of all the times we think we have heard what the other has said --- when we really haven't heard at all. Of all the times hearts are actually broken because of what we have said or done or failed to do or say.  At the very least, there regularly come those times when another begs us to 'fix it.'  And all too often, we discover that we cannot.

And so Ash Wednesday is upon us once more.  A day when we are called upon to remember all the hearts we have broken, intentionally or not.  To recall those moments we have yearned to fix things and make them right and yet, have found that we could not.  On this day we are reminded of our frailty and our limits, our sins, and our failed attempts to make things right.  We are reminded with ashes on our foreheads that there are simply some things we cannot fix.  That more often than not, matters of life and death are, in the end, simply out of our hands.  So on Ash Wednesday as we would do well to do every day, we throw ourselves on the mercy of God. God who is the source of our life and our comfort in death. God who assures us that through his Son, all that we have broken, all that we have cut in half, WILL be put back together again through God's love and mercy.  For we are reminded not only of our frailty when those ashes are traced on our foreheads.  No, indeed, it's not just a shapeless smudge that is traced there, but the sign of the cross.  The same cross on which Jesus died for you and for me.  The same cross which was traced on your forehead on the day you were baptized.

On a Saturday morning a long time ago it was no time to try to convince my nephew that the carrot would taste the same in two pieces as in one.  The best option was to go to the crisper drawer and begin again. It turns out that in that way it was an easy fix.  Not so true always in the rest of our lives.  And yet, where there is forgiveness ---- as it comes to us through Christ's cross, then even this can be so. As we seek God's forgiveness and that of one another.  As we do so not only with our speaking, but also with our doing... by giving back, building up, or at least standing still to acknowledge the pain we have caused.  In the midst of our lives, by the grace of God and the forbearance of one another, we get to start over, too.  As we join with all those of all the ages who pray,
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalm 51:1-2)
And having thus prayed, the promise is that it is so.

  1. When you hear the words, 'Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,' what comes to mind? 
  2. In your understanding, what is the intention of this ancient ritual?  What impact does it have on those who practice it?
  3. Can you think of times when all you could do was rely on the grace promised to you --- grace that may have let you 'begin again' by 'blotting out' your sin or by repairing your brokenness?  How do thoes experiences relate to Ash Wednesday

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"And They Kept Silent..."

I was officiating at a funeral a while back.  I was working then with a funeral home I don't work with all that often, and somehow this was the first occasion we had shared together in the funeral of a veteran.  Following the service, we traveled in caravan to the cemetery. The prayers and words of committal were spoken at the graveside.  Then the honor guard shared their piece.  Taps were played and the guns saluted. Next, as is always the case, two men in uniform removed the flag from where it was draping the casket and began to fold it before they placed it in the hands of the family.  I have been a part of dozens of these and this one was going pretty much as you might expect.  
 In fact, I have to say it always give me pause to bear witness to the formality of this ritual and to consider the symbolism playing out before my eyes.  What was different this time though was that as the flag was being folded, the funeral director stepped to my side and began to speak… offering a rote and practiced explanation of what we were experiencing then.  Truthfully, I wanted to kick him. There are times for words and times for silence and this seemed to me to be a time for silence.   
Only that is not usually, the case, is it?  We do not often stand silent before anything, not even when we encounter the most sacred.  Not even when words are unnecessary or superfluous.  I expect, in part, this may be because we are uncomfortable with silence.  There may be any number of reasons for this but for me? Well, when it’s too quiet sometimes I have too much room to think.  Or I wonder if someone has forgotten their part.  Or, as the leader of a group, I grow anxious wondering if people are not understanding and so I fill the emptiness with my own noise.  Silence makes us uncomfortable and so often from beginning to end, we are prone to fill our days with noise.

I remember still my first meeting with a spiritual director many years ago.  I walked into her office with trepidation, not quite knowing what to expect. It was early in our conversation when she asked me how I prayed.  As I stumbled around trying to formulate a response, for in all truth my prayer life had been faltering then, she interrupted me and asked if I had ever tried centering prayer.  I had not. And so Sister Audrey  proceeded to coach me in how to try this on, reminding me that in this manner of prayer it was not about speaking, but listening.  It was about receiving.  But it required silence.  And like so many others who have practiced this form of prayer, I have found this to be so: the discipline of practicing silence so that we can hear the voice of God can be learned. And at times?  Once we have encountered God, all we have left is silence in response.

This was surely so for Peter and James and John as they bore witness to the Transfiguration today.  Indeed, their final response to these amazing events is simply silence.  Not that Peter hasn’t been filling the space with the sound of his own voice just moments before. Still, at the end of the account before us now, once all is said and done, all the disciples have to offer is their silence. There are simply no words of response that would be adequate, no attempt at explanation that would begin to capture what has just played out before their eyes.   It is clear that as we follow them down off the mountain now, they are living the truth that all they can do is hold it and themselves in the midst of what they have just seen and heard.
Oh, I do have to say that for all my annoyance with the funeral director at the graveside that day, I do see myself in him.  All too often I find myself wanting or needing to explain what is before us. I jump in with words, with analogies, with stories, when finally none of what I have to offer even comes close to adequately offering any real new insights.  The story before us now is a wonderful case in point.

Indeed, I was almost embarrassed this morning to look through my old sermon file to see what I had thought to share on other Transfiguration Days.  Oh, my efforts are heartfelt.  Still, in a number of those sermons I am clearly 'reaching.'  And for the most part they don’t even come close to shedding more light on an which is all about God's light in the first place.  I don’t know that I can get away with it, when it comes to preaching this time around, but this is one of those times when it would truly seem most faithful to the text to simply stand silent before it and watch and listen to what is happening. 

So do simply stand still and notice with me:
Jesus took with him his closest disciples and together they climbed a mountain.  A place where the Holy is often encountered.
And that he was praying.
That in the midst of his praying he was transformed. That Jesus became light itself.
Notice that he was miraculously joined by Elijah and Moses … prominent figures in the faith who had long since died … and that they are in conversation about what is before Jesus now… that he will suffer and die on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  We are led to understand then that even though this path might be somewhat unexpected and certainly unsavory, Jesus is, in fact, the fulfillment of all that has gone before.
That Peter, as Peter is prone to do, as we all are prone to do… wants to DO something to capture the moment, to make it possible to stay there in this light, in this understanding, in this encounter with God.
Notice that at the same time, the disciples experience fear as the cloud descends upon them … for that may be first and finally a deeply sane response to being in the very presence of God.
That God’s voice is heard from the cloud --- echoing the words Jesus heard at his baptism. Only this time the words are not meant for Jesus alone.  They are also meant for Peter and James and John and for all of us for this time God's voice concludes with the command to listen to Jesus.
And oh yes, it is so, isn’t it?  How can we listen, how can we really hear if we are not first silent?  If we are not still enough to take in what is being offered to us?
Silence often makes me uncomfortable, but if I am not silent, how will I ever hear the voice of God?
Can we, can I, be simply silent in the face of the wonder of what is before us now?  And then can we hear the voice of God speaking in it also to you and me?

It is so that almost as an afterthought, I am reminded that God's people are all too often silent when we should speak...  and yet, do you suppose if our first response were silence, we might be all the more ready to speak when the time comes?
  • I have made the case above that 'silence' is the only adequate response to the Transfiguration the disciples witnessed. Do you agree?  Why or why not?
  • Can you think of other parts of Scripture which we are better off experiencing than trying to explain? Which ones?
  • What is your experience with silence in the presence of God?