A Thin Place - Reflections - 2-3-16

 Texts for Sunday February 7
 The Transfiguration  of our Lord

 Exodus 34:29-35
 Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-43a

Ever heard of "thin places"?  

“Thin places” are a part of Celtic spirituality. Within this understanding, some places on earth seem “thin” in the sense that the “veil” or separation between earth and heaven has narrowed. At those places one can sense the sacred, the holy nearby. That can comfort or cause uneasiness. There may be truths we don’t want to face; there is strength to face them. We discover how very small we are; we discover that we are connected to something bigger than we can imagine. In a New York Times article travel writer Eric Weiner wrote that: Travel to thin places does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. 
The concept has captivated the imagination of many, religious or not. I think it touches the very human longing to sense the divine.

So, read the first part of Sunday’s Gospel with the image of “thin place” in mind. Explains a lot of what goes on up there, doesn’t it? Full disclosure: Well known preacher, Barbara Brown Taylor, preached a sermon on Transfiguration using the image of thin places. Totally inspired my thoughts; I take no credit (except that I know a great image when I see it!). 

I think we can just leave this part of the story. We stand on that mountain with Peter, John and James, awed by God’s presence. It is a mystery beyond knowing.  God is merciful and just; God is righteous and holy; dazzling and bright yet shrouded. Undoubtedly there is more meaning in the story: the appearance of Moses and Elijah who discuss what is going to happen in Jerusalem; the struggle to stay awake; trying to control the situation by building places to stay; the Voice says to listen to Jesus. This story begins with “after these sayings”. Those sayings to which the text refers are ones from Jesus about taking up one's cross, about saving one's life by losing it.  All of that means something.

But, I say "let's just sit with the mystery" then move on to the second part of today's Gospel.

After the voice, it is just Jesus, Peter, John, and James again. Luke has the disciples keeping silent about the event on their own. Mark and Matthew have Jesus telling the disciples not to talk about it. When they get down the mountain the next day, a crowd comes and a man cries out to Jesus for healing for his son….his only son, according to Luke. All three of the Gospels put this story after the Transfiguration. If all three Gospels put it there, it means something. 

Think a minute. What does being met by such profound human need say about the Transfiguration? Or put another way, what does this story say about the meaning of the Transfiguration?

And have you ever experienced a thin place?  What language would you use to describe the effect of a close encounter with God?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, February 7, for more ways to reflect on these texts. 

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday this week. So we have pancakes between services this last Sunday before Lent. Please join us!
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comment section below (all the way down past the related posts).

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Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245