I have seen the risen church

          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.

                            —Luke 9.29-31

Jesus has just told his disciples the powerful will kill him.
He is about to “set his face toward Jerusalem.”
We are in the shadow of the cross.
In that awful place when Jesus prays
he speaks with Moses and Elijah about his “departure”—
let's not be polite about it: his terrible death.
And in that awful place what do the disciples see?
Even before his horrible death
they see him already resurrected, shining in glory!
The Transfiguration is not a proof-of-Jesus'-divinity video.
It's a resurrection appearance, before the resurrection.
Jesus, having given himself to God, is already infinitely alive.
That's the promise that bears him onward.

This week my church, the “United “ Methodist Church,
just voted to exclude and persecute gay people.
OK, so that's that. We're not United any more.
We have officially abandoned the gospel of love.
For many of us our hearts are broken.
We are in the shadow of crucifixion.

In this awful place what do I see?
I see that God in grace makes life out of death, victory out of failure.
I see the church, risen.
The terrible death hasn't come yet,
but already the light of resurrection illumines our way.
God is at work, unseen and victorious,
even as the soldiers of death pull on their boots.

It is time for the church to die and rise.
We will suffer; some will suffer greatly.
But we will go on, and God will raise us up,
and the radiant Body of Christ, crucified and risen,
changed into a new form, will shine.
Love will prevail. It will not be defeated. Love cannot be voted down.

In all your struggles—for justice in the world,
or for peace in one neighbor's life—
whatever your failures, whatever ruinous collapses you foresee,
know this: before the tragedy, before the awful descent,
in love you are already risen, already shining.
Go in peace. Go with courage. Go in hope.

January 28, 2019