A Lenten Reflection from Rev. Dr. Terrell Carter, Central Seminary Director of Contextualized Learning and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology
One of the themes in the gospel of Luke is the importance of storytelling as a way to share historic events, build community, and affirm God’s presence and commitment to God’s children.
Multiple times in the early chapters of Luke’s book, angels tell Jesus’ parents stories of how he would play an important part in the history of their nation and the world. Later on, those stories were affirmed when Jesus and his parents visited the temple. As an adult, Jesus affirmed the validity of those stories through miracles of healing, through providing for people’s needs, and through freeing people from demons and physical pain.
The transfiguration narrative found in Luke 9 was further confirmation of those early stories. The appearance of Moses and Elijah, the two who most represented the law and prophetic message of God’s love for God’s people, served as further confirmation that the stories about Jesus’ purpose were true. Their appearance and interaction with Jesus served as confirmation that Jesus was who he claimed.
But after the transfiguration, we learn that the disciples who witnessed it – Peter, John, and James – didn’t tell anyone about what they saw. They failed to share their story. We don’t know if they stayed silent out of confusion related to what they saw or if they were simply afraid to share the story.
Their silence leaves me with a question: How could sharing the story of what they witnessed have affected the lives of Jesus’ followers as they deliberated the meaning of his crucifixion? Could knowing that Jesus had been confirmed as God’s true messenger by two of the foundations of their faith give the people hope for what Jesus was going through? Could the witness of Moses and Elijah, and the holy voice that boomed from the heavens proclaiming Jesus as “the chosen Son,” give Jesus’ followers hope that what they thought was the end was really only the beginning of something greater?
Like the disciples after the transfiguration, we have a decision to make. Will we tell the story? Will we share the good news of God’s love brought to completion in the man named Jesus? Or will we keep the story to ourselves?
Like those disciples, when we fail to share the story, we fail to share the hope that God has given us that can benefit others. Our relationship with God through Jesus tells a story that future generations, and the whole world, need to hear. The world needs to hear that, although God is God above all others, God still reaches down to gather us back to holy relationship.
In a few weeks, Lent will have come and gone, and Easter will be a memory. My prayer for all of us is that our willingness to tell the story of God’s love would not be limited by a day or season on the church calendar, but that we would instead share it at every opportunity. Amen.