A CHILD’S THINKING
Jesus said “Unless you become as a little child, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Okay. Start there today, on this Second Sunday in Lent. “As a child.” But not childish. a little tricky, but my grandson can help. When he’s being childish, he’s just being silly and unpredictable and a little annoying. He’s not himself.
But when he’s being a child, something he does brilliantly, he displays childlike simplicity, directness, honesty, affection, courage, tenacity, and much to my delight, he sees the Obvious, which I often miss.
Now, I have several sermons written more than a thousand years ago on this day of the Liturgical Year: The Second Sunday in Lent — the Lesson has always been The Transfiguration. By reading these sermons I enter the minds of great men who came before me, and yet we are in agreement and in communion, across the years.
It’s a familiar Bible story, but first I want to demonstrate some of these childlike qualities which Jesus prizes so much.
Cooper and I exchange pictures sometimes. Pictures that we draw. Today I received this one:
(“Today” — Sunday. I’ve been sick for a few days and only made it to the mailbox today.)
That picture is a little more sophisticated than it would appear at first glance. For one thing, it is a Mixed Media picture, and I complimented him for using mixed media to achieve such an interesting result. (I was a first grade teacher, remember? This takes planning, foresight, the ability to see a result and work your way to it, and stick to the theme. . . .)
But look at the water. That is stroke after stroke of blue crayon. He stuck to it until the fish had enough water to safely swim in. I thought of what it would take for ME to keep at it like that, concentrating, achieving the result I want.
Dedicated. Focused. Single-minded. Persevering.
I know, because I’ve done this recently for him.
A short time ago I sent to him a little meteorite. A genuine, actual interesting little meteorite. He and I share a love of “things” up there in the heavens. He called to thank me and then proceeded to tell me where meteorites come from: “….and then a big fireball smashes into an asteroid and the pieces fall to the ground! !!!!!!!!!!” (Well, it’s an exciting concept.)
Can’t improve on that explanation.
I made a picture of his words. Here’s part of it. Cooper lives in the mountains, in a forest, near a beautiful lake. I wasn’t sure how to make a “fireball” but after a long, long time, I think I had it right, just like he explained it to me.
And so now I know for sure what it’s like to be “childlike” with pencils and paper.
Back to today’s Transfiguration. It’s the very important story of Jesus taking three close friends to the top of a mountain where He then proceeded to show to them some of His actual glory.
This was a very important lesson for them because they had begun to dimly perceive His Divinity, but they were grown men and it was getting “complicated.” They needed to have this knowledge affirmed and their faith strengthened before they witnessed the next events in the life of Jesus, which will soon be His Passion and ignominious death.
The presence of Elijah and Moses for a brief time also confirmed for them that this was the work of God. No room for complicated, tricky theological explanations; this IS the Son of the God of Moses, the Lawgiver, and Elijah, the great prophet. It is a simple, straightforward conclusion, profound but uncomplicated. Even a child could understand that Jesus is of God.
Why don’t more people know this? With a childlike mind, look at the obvious.
The Transfiguration happened here:
I have a friend, “My-Friend-With-The Camera” that I write about once in a while, who jogged up the winding road of this mountain, Mt. Tabor. I still remember how he talked about that view! You are so high up that you can see amazingly far in every direction! It rises out of that plain like one huge bump.
While the “bump” is Mt. Tabor, that plain you’re looking at unfolds itself near Mt. Megiddo — which some of you will know is the location of Armageddon.
“You are so high up” . . .”that you can see. . . ”
And that’s the obvious thing to spend some time with. The Transfiguration had to happen at the top of a mountain. It’s not for the man whose life is lived among lower elevations, content with earthly things.
Experiencing the Transfiguration is not for those who are reluctant to climb. Climb upward. Understanding takes willingness and effort and purpose and focus and persistence and you keep at it until you’re there.
Like a child.