“You are loved: Abide. Invite. Welcome.”
When I introduced the above words from the Lord to Immanuel, we reflected on Jesus’ invitation in John 1:35-42 to his first disciples to “come and see.” Their response to him indicated a desire to be with Jesus, and a readiness to receive from him – the heart of true discipleship. As they spend weeks, months, and years with him, they increasingly come to see Jesus for who he truly is, and they begin to change. The more clearly they see Jesus, the more re-formation they experience of their understanding of God, themselves, their values, their vision for the future, and their way of life.
Peter, James, and John are three disciples Jesus consistently invited to abide with him in unique ways, and each time they were given an even clearer vision of who he is. The Transfiguration of Jesus literally shines as the brightest of these visions (Matthew 17:1-9). We read of this experience every year on the last Sunday of Epiphany. The biblical context of the Transfiguration fits well within the liturgical flow from Epiphany to Lent.
Six days before this event Peter declares Jesus to be the Messiah, and Jesus begins teaching the disciples that this truth will require his suffering and death (Matthew 16:13-23). Luke tells us that Moses and Elijah are discussing with the transfigured Jesus his impending crucifixion (Luke 9:30-31). And when Jesus walks down the mountain with his three disciples, he is heading down the road to Jerusalem. The Transfiguration is the Scriptural bridge from the brightness of the Epiphany into the Lenten journey to the Cross.
This Sunday, and this Lent, Jesus is inviting you to abide with him, that you may even more clearly see him for who he truly is – a revelation that comes to fullness in the light of his death and resurrection. The prologue to Lent is bright: the celebration of the Transfiguration on Sunday, and the feasting on pancakes this Shrove Tuesday, February 21, starting at 5pm at the Mission Outpost/Worship House. Lent begins the following day, Ash Wednesday, with the Imposition of Ashes offered at 8am and 12pm, and the Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist offered at 7pm (childcare provided at this 7pm service). At those services, you will be invited “to the observance of a holy Lent: by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and alms-giving; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (p. 544, BCP 2019).
Please be sure to read below for the opportunities offered by Immanuel to support you in observing Lent. And remember these important words, also from the Ash Wednesday service: “To make a right beginning, let us now pray for grace, that we may faithfully keep this Lent.” It is the grace of God given as we abide with Jesus that enlightens and enlivens us, not our striving.
Your Pastor in Christ,