Remembering her own mountaintop journeys prompts Martha Spong to reflect on the mystery of the Transfiguration.  She poses an interesting question about what the disciples – and we – perceive. “In this era of propaganda and marketing, social media and political campaigns, our perceptions are being messed with all the time. What are we noticing? Has truth changed? How do we know if what we are seeing is real or true?  On the Day of Transfiguration, nothing essential about Jesus changed. What changed is what the disciples knew about him. They had known a friend, a teacher, a wise person; now they experienced the brightly blinding presence of the Divine declaring Jesus to be Son of God.” 

Katya Ouchakof  leads us deeper into the problematic part of the Transfiguration with us, noting, “Transfiguration Sunday is complicated. In a world of ever-increasing racial tensions, the last thing that our congregations need in their lives is dazzlingly white Jesus. The historic Jesus was likely brown-skinned, brown-eyed, and black-haired. If your church has typically celebrated Transfiguration with traditional light/dark imagery, please pay attention and tread carefully regarding the possible racial connotations of such imagery. Take a second look at your bulletin cover for this week, and at the artwork on display around your building. Pastors of predominantly white congregations, how can your dark-skinned worshippers find meaning this weekend? What would help them to feel seen and heard?” 

Looking at the power of good manners with a wide lens, Susan Wright prompts us, “Emily Post, The Queen of Manners Education says, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”  She adds a challenge, “Two places we could use better manners are on social media and when driving. It is actually shocking to see all the rude, intolerant, entitled, and even cruel behavior in both of these spheres.” 

On the hamster wheel of her own routine, Michelle Francl-Donnay imagines a different life for herself.  “If I were to write a soap opera about my life, it would be called “As the Hamster Wheel Turns”. I would have an evil twin. She would go to meetings and be difficult, so neither of us would be asked to sit on another committee again. She would stand outside my door and glare at anyone who approaches, daring them to ignore the “Do Not Disturb” sign and knock.” 

For anyone imagining a different life in ministry, Laura Stephens-Reed offers us a list of questions to orient ourselves to something new, including: “Identify to whom your ministry would be good news. If God is inviting you to consider a new venture, your efforts will be valuable to others as well. Find those people, tell them what you’re mulling, and listen deeply to the feedback as you gauge their level of excitement.”  And, also this wisdom, which works for any venture: “Promote yourself. “Noooo…” you might be thinking. “I don’t want to do that. I can’t do that.” But remember those people you talked to who saw great potential in what you were thinking about. Letting those who need your ministry know that your help is available is a service to – not a burden on – them.” 

Liz Crumlish leads us into Lent with this:

So as we don ashes

may we resolve

to hold space 

for one another

Space in which

each is seen

and heard

valued 

accepted

loved

held in light

recognised

as beloved

What are you imagining, dreaming about or fearing this week?  We would love to know in the comments section below. 

Mary Austin is the pastor of Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, a Presbyterian Church with members from over 30 countries.  She is the author of Meeting God at the Mall.

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