Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hitting Your Spiritual Snooze Button? - Transfiguration Thoughts

What do you do with the Transfiguration story? That’s this week’s lectionary reading, Luke’s version. I get the feeling the Transfiguration story must be important, but I’m not really sure why. Kind of like District Superintendents. :) (Joke.)

Luke has a line in the story that has caught my eye this time. Luke 9:32 says, “Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.” (NRSV) It reminds me of another time the disciples got sleepy, in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night Jesus was arrested. Only that time, they went right ahead and fell asleep.

“Since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory.” Maybe the whole thing was a result of sleep deprivation? You know how when you stay awake really late at night and you start getting all loopy? Maybe Peter, James, and John were just really, really sleepy and their minds were playing tricks on them.

Or maybe it’s more about “staying awake” spiritually, so that you don’t miss an opportunity to see Christ. Maybe sin is essentially evidence that we are spiritually asleep, not aware of Christ’s presence, unable to recognize the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ. And the thing about being asleep is that sometimes your dreams are so vivid, you don’t realize you are sleeping. That is, until you wake up.

This metaphor is helpful for me in thinking about many sins. Sin is a vivid dream in which your perceptions seem real and good and right and just, but they are only a dream. Upon waking up and seeing Christ’s glory, you realize that your sinful life is just a dream, and salvation is an ongoing attempt to stay awake spiritually so that you will live a life that God intends. The devil LOVES this situation, you know? With this sleeping/dreaming arrangement Satan has worked it out so that we are sinning, but we don’t realize we are. Not only do we not realize it, but we actually think we are being righteous, so we just keep on sinning/dreaming, all the time unaware of our sin.

Consider affluence. How many of us try to live in the dream that says it is okay for some people to have a big house, two cars, closets full of clothes, pantries full of food, while other people lie on heating ducts downtown with all of their worldly possessions stuffed into a dirty backpack beside them? I know I do. Any excuse I try to offer is the equivalent of pressing my spiritual snooze button. “Just ten more minutes, okay Jesus?”

There’s something here also that reminds me of one of the themes from “The Matrix.” Neo was awakened to the ugly, painful reality of the world, having been in an altered state of perception in which his life seemed to be quite ordinary and relatively easy. The most insidious sin is not a horrific, blatant act, but rather the attitude of indifference displayed by all of us who are asleep to the reality of the world.

Peter, James, and John stayed awake, despite their sleepiness. That is vital to our salvation, to be awake and alert for opportunities to glimpse the glory of God. How easy it is to drift off into quiet, comfortable, blissful slumber and dream the “everything’s okay” dream. But the call of Christ is to remain alert, stay awake, get your hand away from that snooze button! Wake up and see the glory of Christ.


Anonymous said...

Like your post.

However, you had better be careful about mentioning DSs---your position is in their hands this week and coming weeks.

Matt said...

Wow, hope that anonymous commenter isn't your DS! :-)

Thanks for the reflection on the Transfiguration. I noticed that line about sleeping too, and really like what you've done to reflect on it. That could be a powerful and significant message.

I have to agree that the transfiguration is a tough sucker to get your mind around, and I've been reading everything I can get my hands on! I got an insight from Stanley Hauerwaus' new commentary on Matthew (I know, I know, it isn't Luke!). He mentioned the importance of "going on to Jerusalem" rather than staying on the mountain in the homemade dwellings of the burly fisherman. I may tie something in there about refusing the holy-huddle mentality. Going "on to Jerusalem" in spite of danger, peril, etc. is essential for the missional commuity called the Church! What do you think?

Anonymous said...

No, I am not a DS far from it.

Just like to read Methodist blogs

But I am a Methodist through and through.

MethoDeist said...

While I am not a Christian, this speaks to me metaphorically as well. I see being asleep as not being able to see and experience a God that is right in front of you.

Spiritual sleep is a good term in this case. I believe that we close our eyes, hearts and minds to experiencing God. We try to open our eyes and wake up but fail to do so.

In response, we create beliefs to compensate for our lack of connection. Essentially, we create dreams. However, being awake means being open to the connection that we have with God at all moments of existence. Once we wake up we are able to develop and grow in the innate connection that we all have but are unaware of because of the restrictions of this existence.

So, I agree with your interpratation for the most part except where Christianity and Deism part.

Will said...

Thanks for this post. I hope to "steal" some of your thoughts for my own sermon preparation and use.

John Meunier said...

I'm intrigued by your process - using the blog to help you reflect on the upcoming sermon.

I always figured preachers would be drawn to the part of the story where God tells the disciples "Listen to him!" Wouldn't it help if God did that on regular basis for his ministers?

John Wesley said...

Dearest and Most Gentle Reader,

I should like to offer my most humble salutations and felicitations on this festal day of St. Valentine. I have the highest regard for our community, the “Methoblog” and wish we could make acquaintance under more auspicious circumstances as I am sure that these acquaintances may yet become a valuable and enriching friendship as we exhort and instruct each other to be conformed in the image of Christ.

I remain God’s most humble servant,

John Wesley

steveh said...

You snooze, you lose.