Among a lot of my peers, I realize I’m a conservative. In fact, I’d bet my whole month’s pay you are too. Now, when I say this, I’m not thinking about a religious or political category; I’m not thinking about the religious fundamentalism that arose in our country in the 19th century and that is prevalent today or a certain partisan politics (I hope you see, too, that such categories are not always helpful). What I’m thinking about is something more deeply connected to the human soul. I’m talking about the deep-seated craving to conserve, that is, to claim and cling to both a shared story, as well as the moorings in life that help us to not get lost. I think we all do this in some sort or fashion. We’re creatures of habit, and we habituate ourselves around the ways we make sense of life and try to keep ourselves safe and sound. For us Christians, this window through which we look at life is the life and way of Jesus, the story of our foremothers and forefathers of the faith, the best of what tradition has to offer us. There is a weird impulse in nearly all faith traditions to “not reinvent the wheel,” to seek “traditioned-innovation” and to notice that the thing with the shortest shelf-life is “being relevant” for relevance’s sake. See, there’s a deep part of us that seeks to conserve something of life.
Where this window becomes a prison is where this innate craving toward conserving doesn’t allow us to negotiate the changes and chances of life. Indeed, we need to be “grounded” in life. But, as a spiritual guide once told me, “there’s quite a difference between a boat that has been grounded on the rocks, is stuck, and may be quite in danger, and the way a tree is grounded in the soil, in which its roots, very much alive, keep the tree centered and steady while actively drawing nourishment from the well of life.” For us, we want to be like the tree, which is rooted, is nourished into life, and provides sanctuary for all to live. We do this by being “rooted and grounded in love”—God’s love in Christ (Ephesians 3:17b).
This Sunday, we’ll hear the story of how Jesus is changed, transfigured, on the mountain top and before the eyes of his most inner circle of disciples. They love this change so much, they don’t want it to change. God calls them back down the mountain to continue in the way of Jesus, but they liked the change, the glory they saw, and not the cross that awaited them all below. Who can blame them? Sometimes we cling to things that are not best for us, are maybe not God’s deepest desire for us, and it’s always important to be reminded that we are human. But, let’s not forget, in fact, let’s remember, let’s cling to and claim, let’s conserve the truth that God goes before us, is with us, behind us, rooting us and grounding us in God’s love through Christ—always, everywhere and for all time. This truth never changes.
See you on Sunday!