Cheesehead has launched a Tuesday lectionary group in her parish, and invited readers to join in the discussion. This sounds very interesting, and on one level I really envy of her for belonging to the sort of church where anyone other than the hapless preacher is interested in hearing about the lectionary passages twice in one week. (Presumably, attending on Tuesday does not entitle you to a “Get out of gaol free” card in terms of the sermon slot on Sundays). On the other, I know that I would worry terribly if such a group existed here that I would find myself with nothing original to say at all when Sunday came, since all (any) of my insights would already have been shared with the group…I know I benefit repeatedly and hugely from various on-line lectionary discussions, though, so perhaps I could in time learn to enjoy having one based in my own parish hall. It’s not likely to happen in my current context, that’s for sure!
Meanwhile, Cheesehead is considering Mark’s account of the Transfiguration, which encouraged me to revisit a letter I wrote for the August parish mag when I’d just arrived here two summers ago.
"Not for the first time, I find myself deeply grateful for the presence of St Peter in the Gospels. You’ll recall that he is one of the witnesses of Christ’s Transfiguration on the mountain- top, a moment at which we imagine that everything suddenly made sense to him. At last the relationship between Jesus and the Old Testament prophets seemed clear, and we
can imagine Peter’s joyful recognition of his Lord. Being human, though, he wanted to preserve the moment “It’s good to be here. Let’s build three booths.”
He was sure that the way to hang onto his special experience was to turn the place where it had happened into a shrine, as if God was uniquely to be encountered there. It’s something we all do. Places or situations in which God has been specially real to us can become so important in themselves that we find it very hard to move on, and recognise that God may also be ahead of us in new and unknown contexts. Perhaps this matches the cloud that surrounded the disciples. Could they really be sure of the truth of their experience? Why could they not just stay there and savour the moment?
The thing to remember, though, is that when the cloud lifted what the disciples saw was the one essential,-Jesus himself…He couldn’t and can’t be tied to any particular place, however precious, but he will always be there if we focus on Him."
I didn’t know the parish when I wrote that, but it seems more apposite than ever now, as I consider the passions roused by any thought of change to building or liturgy. Since God once turned up in a particular way in a particular context, so many people refuse to consider that He is constantly on the move throughout his world…Yesterday, Sung Eucharist at St M’s, today a drop-in café, tomorrow…who knows? But as it is good to be there, our calling is to find out where he is at work, and then (as we are so often encouraged) hurry to join in.