Eucharist – 1st Sunday before Lent – 14th February
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
“Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” So says Peter, who then goes on to try and freeze the frame just as it is: ‘Let’s build dwellings for you, Jesus, and for Moses and Elijah too!’ Peter was terrified so he comes up with this rushed solution. He didn’t know what else to do. I mean, what would you have done?!
You see, it’s hard not to love Peter. There’s something about his raw humanity that can so easily draw us in.
In the calling of the first disciples – humble fishermen – you’ll remember that it’s Peter who drops to his knees once he recognises Jesus for who he really is. We’re left to wonder what it is that drives him to kneel. What part of his own frailty and brokenness has Jesus connected with?
In Gethsemane, it’s Peter who draws his sword to defend his Master. Even in these final days, his loyalty is violently fierce. We wonder how Peter must feel to be told to put his sword back into its sheath? Even in these final days, has Peter really been listening to what Jesus says?
And, of course, it is Peter’s fierce loyalty that snaps when he is recognised in the flame-light of the open fire, as he becomes yet another who denies Jesus. When accused of being one of Jesus’ close and faithful disciples, how does Peter (the rock upon which the Church is to be built) respond? He says, “I do not know what you are talking about.”
Maybe there’s something about Peter we can all relate to. And so, when Peter rushes to build dwellings high up on the mountain out of fear, perhaps it’s not hard for us to see ourselves doing similar.
When we’re a bit scared or anxious about family or friends; perhaps we’ve got money problems, or we know something’s not right in ourselves or those we love, it’s so easy to rush to a solution. We want to feel like we’re in control, and we can decide our way out of a tough period or situation. ‘If I just do this or that, then things will improve.’
Of course, sometimes decisions made quickly can prove to be the right decisions. But, perhaps, Peter might have been better served had he stayed with his first response: “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.” Although there has been much pain and grief during this pandemic, and although it won’t be true for everyone, for some folks this season has provided an opportunity to just ‘be here’ a bit more. We’ve not quite been able to rush around as much and many decisions that we normally have to make have been taken away.
It is good for us to be here as one Church family doing the best we can to pray for, and support, each other, whatever that looks like. It is good for us to be here because as we meet each other (in-person, on email or Zoom or even as you read this reflection on good old paper!), we also meet Jesus Christ and he brings us home to ourselves. God sees us for what we are and meets us in Jesus Christ to bring us home. As we approach the holy season of Lent, may Jesus Christ bring you home too.