“Rooted in History: Now” by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

February 24th,2022 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter
Beloved Friends,

I hope that you are taking care of yourself amidst the many conflicts and challenges arising and continuing in our world. Our prayers continue to be for the peace and valuing of human life for those being persecuted by leaders and authorities in their own countries and others…and all amidst a global pandemic. This life is challenging, there is no easy way to put it, but those challenges are often made easier to navigate in beloved community. If you are struggling, please know that we are here for and with you. We hope that you will take some time this Sunday to join us for Bible Study, Children’s Worship, and Communal Worship as we continue to strengthen the bonds of this community, lament the human conflict and systemic oppression so present in our time, but also celebrate and praise an ever-present God and all the ways we are called to change, grow, and become anew for the better in beloved community.

This Sunday is what is called the Transfiguration and I don’t know if it could come at a better time. This is the story of Jesus and the Disciples taking space to pray and become anew together—it is the perfect passage for us as we head into Ash Wednesday that seeks to remind us that we are all interconnected to the One who creates, redeems, and sustains us all. However, in this current time in our lives in which change is necessary and yet oh so slow to manifest, the scripture moves me a bit differently this year. I am curious if that is the same for you? Let’s read together the story of the Transfiguration from Luke 9 and I invite you to pay particular attention to the timing of this story. For context, we enter this scripture right after Jesus has been inviting the Disciples to “pick up their cross” and follow him so they may experience the glory of a life devoted to the just and loving ways of God.

About eight days after saying this, Jesus took Peter, John and James and went up onto a mountain to pray. While Jesus was praying, his face changed in appearance and the clothes he wore became dazzlingly white. Suddenly two people were there talking with Jesus—Moses and Elijah. They appeared in glory and spoke of the prophecy that Jesus was about to fulfill in Jerusalem.
Peter and the others had already fallen into a deep sleep, but awakening, they saw Jesus’ glory—and the two people who were standing next to him. When the two were leaving, Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here! Let’s set up three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah!” Peter didn’t really know what he was saying.
While Peter was speaking, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and the disciples grew fearful as the others entered it. Then from the cloud came a voice which said, “This is my Own, my Chosen One. Listen to him!”
When the voice finished speaking, they saw no one but Jesus standing there. The disciples kept quiet, telling nothing of what they had seen at that time to anyone.

Luke 9:28-36 (ILB)

What did you notice about time? For me, it was two things. The first is eight days. Jesus said follow me for eight days. A week and a day. That’s it. Eight days is all he gave them to think, pray, ponder, question, and engage what he had been sharing. That doesn’t seem like a lot to me. I took 27 years before I stepped foot into a church for the sake of my own faith. But also, eight days to choose between what is right and what is present, seems almost too long. As we look at the unjust treatment of our siblings and neighbors around the world, eight days to speak out and say, “We don’t treat God like that” seems far too long. Scripture as a conduit to hear our still speaking God is always still amazing to me.

The second thing I notice is that the change- the transfiguration- in Jesus is immediate. I feel that need for expediency deeply. Many of you hear me say often, “when we know better, we are accountable to do better.” For me that is the immediate change that we are called to in this text. We have had our eight days. We have heard the good news and the horrible stories. We have seen the harm and experienced the grace. We don’t need another committee or Zoom call to say that 100% of trans people are made in God’s image and laws that treat them as “other” are sinful and not of God. We don’t need more time to say war is biblical but not holy. We don’t need more time to know that we were entrusted with the care of Creation, and we need immediate action to change the harm we have let befall it.  Talking about places as if they aren’t made up of people, culture, language, art, love, relationships, history, memory, joy, heartache, and God- does not need more time.

Let us transfigure like Jesus – now.
Let us show mercy and grace, compassion and vision – now.
Let us build the kindom – now.

Friends, we are living in history as it is being written. We are both in the eight days and the immediacy of transfiguration and it can be a lot to navigate. But know that the presence of God is with us all day, every day, forever. God offers us the time we need, and also shows us that change can be as quick as we want: we just have to do it. I continue to be amazed at all that God is doing in this world, in this community, in you, and in me. That the clouds of both witness and kindom call us into individual and communal change. I pray in these days and times to come, that we continue to help each other hear, learn, grow, transform, and move toward the kindom of God this day, always—and now.

Shalom Y’all
Rev. Stephanie

Simple Prayer: O Holy One, Help me change into all that you call me to be. Amen.