Deacon Jane Ellis, from the Episcopal Church of the Ascension (Birmingham, Alabama) writes a weekly blog. With Ash Wednesday coming up this week, she pondered how she would observe Lenten discipline.
Ash Wednesday is next week February 17, 2021. As we move into Lent let us take into our hearts these words from the Gospel of Mark “This is my son, listen to him.”
When I read this today, I immediately knew what I was going to do for my Lenten discipline this year. I am not giving up my two chocolate Kisses that I have each evening. I am not giving up the glass of wine I so enjoy with a meal during the week. I am not going to walk further each of the 40 days, nor am I giving up cursing. I won’t be eating just fish on Fridays, or even giving up red meat on any other day during Lent.
NO! I am going to ramp up the intensity of listening for Jesus in my daily life. This spiritual practice will require of me the carving out of time and focus to be still, to be present, to tune-in myself to being open, to listening for the still small voice.
To ‘listen to him’ involves the spiritual practice of obedience. Not just in the ritual of prayer but by being present to the holy in everything. When we can learn to see Jesus in everything, and in all of our lives then we will enter into the process of metamorphosis. That slow change of transformation, from who we are to whom God wants us to be.
When Jesus went up on the mountain he was authenticated by his heavenly Father. Right in front of his three, inner-most disciples Peter, James and John, Jesus was changed, morphed from being a man of holiness to being the holy son of God, Emmanuel, God with us.
Standing there on sacred ground surrounded by Moses and Elijah, who represented the law and the prophets, and his three beloved disciples, whose shoulders the future of spreading the Good News stood, Jesus was transfigured. The face of Jesus became dazzling white, filled with the divine light of love and God said, ‘this is my beloved son; listen to him.’
As Christians this is our charge: listen to him. But you know sometimes we may not like what we hear. Jesus may instruct, or enlighten us to look deeper within ourselves, to be more honest within ourselves. What we see may indeed need to be changed, morphed even from old to new. The key is to place ourselves again and again in his presence so we too will experience a change in how we love, how we care for others, and how we care for ourselves. Have faith that God will give us what we need when we need it.
God is still coming among us even today, calling us to mountaintop experiences, beckoning us to transformation by his dazzling light and love. All he asks is that we listen. And, if we commit to the spiritual practice of listening to and for him, if we commit to habitually walk with him, dwell with him, rest with him then I believe Jesus will reveal his desire for us, he will come to us and when he does, he will morph and change us into who we are called to be.
When we focus on Jesus the divine inner spirit, of God in us, we will bring about an inner transformation, a metamorphosis of the old self to a new self and we will begin slowly to become more Jesus like. So, let this be our Lenten prayer: come Lord Jesus have thine own way, thou are the potter, I am the clay, mold me and make me after thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and sill.
I invite you to join in this spiritual practice of listening during this Lenten season. Lord knows there has been too much noise over this last year, so I urge you to be still, open your ears, open your heart.