A group of people meet in a carpark (thanks, COVID), and hear an ancient story in which Jesus’ followers see their teacher, Jesus, standing with Moses, who represents the law, and Elijah, who represents the prophets, on a mountaintop. And a cloud, aka the presence of God, envelops them, and they hear a voice saying, ‘This is my son, the Beloved; listen to him.” Suddenly when they look around, they see nobody with them anymore, but only Jesus. So, what do the people in a carpark notice?
What is the emphasis of the story?
- Moses is the law, which shows you how to live. Elijah is the prophets, who push and prod people to go beyond the letter into the meaning of the law, and who recall people to economic justice, kindness, humility and shalom. The law and prophets, and the dialogue between them, are fundamental to Jewish, and therefore Jesus’, identity.
- The way the story was told emphasizes *which* voice to listen to. It doesn’t negate Moses or Elijah / law or prophets, but suggests Jesus is the lens by which we accept / reject them.
- We know Jesus through his life, ministry, and teaching.
- The story echoes the voice heard at Jesus’ baptism, when he was filled with God’s breath / holy spirit.
- As 21st century Christians, we tend not to listen so much to the law and prophets. But we listen to a lot of other voices …
Which voices compete for our attention?
- Negative voice, ego,
- Voice of the accuser / Satan (who do you think you are? / you’ll never be good enough / who are you to even try? / nobody does that / that’s stupid / you’re not a proper church / you’re just a crappy little church in a remote town at the ass far end of the world …)
- Ideas of success, celebrity culture, media and entertainment industry
- Other stories curated by advertisers and Hollywood: two hours of Netflix a day
- Social media, pressure to stand out / conform
- Good truth tellers: modern prophets, storytellers, poetry, arts, Amanda Gorman (who quotes Micah!)
- Parents’ voices, for good and ill
- ABC and other trusted commentators
- Public health experts (not wellness gurus)
- Preachers, for good and ill
- Peers, tribe, workmates etc.
Marks of Jesus’ voice:
- Love which liberates, empowers, accepts, respects
- Never authoritarian
- Never hurts or humiliates
- Accepts all comers
- Authentic, grounded, ring of deep truth
- Slices through all the crap!
These observations guided us into our church conversation about what’s been good, liberating, empowering or life-giving this past year, and what’s been hard, and where we hear God calling us to next. More on that at another date. A conversation about Mark 9:2-9, the alternate gospel text for 28 February 2021 (Lent 2B) © Sanctuary 2021. Image credit: Photo by Robin Benad on Unsplash.
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