Transfiguration Sunday has a typical sermon that goes something like this, “we’ve all had mountaintop experiences, but you can’t stay on the mountain. You’ve got to come down and live life in the valley.”
We seem to be living this out in our life together as a nation. When Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1968, “I’ve been to the mountaintop…and I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!” could he have imagined that forty years later the nation he was exhorting would elect an African-American man to highest office?
No sooner had we celebrated that milestone election though and we were faced with hard realities about the economy. Unemployment is rising, as are foreclosures. Here at St. Luke’s we’re asking hard questions about how to exercise responsible stewardship of our assets as we deal with property concerns, programs and outreach. There is no living on the mountaintop, and even King prefaced his vision with the words, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead.”
What hope is there to be drawn from scripture in times like these? I take comfort in the words, “this is my child, the beloved…” – words that apply not only to Jesus or King or Obama, but to all of us who were transfigured in baptism and who live in God’s grace. There are difficult days ahead, and we face them together.