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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 27, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 9:28–43

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God. (NRSV)

I know this is a richly complicated and robust text. I could reflect on just about every sentence! However, I must admit that it is the very first sentence that captures my imagination. “Now about eight days after these sayings . . .” It causes us to wonder just what had happened immediately before this text. And when we look back, we hear Jesus telling his disciples about his impending suffering and death. It was the first time he had made those remarks in their presence. And then, apparently, eight days passed before this next dramatic moment.

What do you think happened during those eight days? I imagine the disciples spent quite a bit of time debating Jesus’ words amongst themselves. Perhaps some of them asked Jesus outright to explain it all again. All of them must have felt shocked and saddened by the mere possibility of their rabbi being hurt and killed. It must have been a long eight days.

I often think of that eight-day timeframe as a time of practicing living in liminal space. Liminal space is the time in between the times. It is a threshold moment, that space between what was past and what is yet to be. For the disciples, any innocence they might have held about a long future with Jesus had been decimated by Jesus’ own words. But at the same time, they also did not have a vision of what their future as his disciples would look like. They occupied liminal space.

I think we are in a similar situation in our own world. In these days of continued COVID and national polarization, we know there is no going back. We will never be the same people we were prior to this pandemic and this moment in our national life. We will never be the same congregation that we were prior to this pandemic and this moment in our national life. And yet we do not have the full vision of what our future holds and how it will shape us. We, too, are living in liminal space. It can be scary, confusing, and complicated. However, just like those first disciples, while we may not know what our future holds, we know Who holds our future. May that promise be enough to sustain us, at least for today.

Gracious God, may I be open to the ways you continue to form, reform, and call me into this world that you love and hold.  Give me courage, strength, and the vision to see what you see. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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