St. Luke provides what some have called travel notices in his Gospel. He uses this rhetorical tool to announce to his readers, “We’re moving”, or better yet “Jesus is moving”, or even better than that, “The presence of God is on the move.” Mary traveled to Elizabeth with Jesus in her womb in preparation for the event that would shake the world, the incarnation. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for this very event. Later the Holy Family traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover where Jesus wowed the elders at the temple. Years later Jesus traveled to the Jordan to be baptized by John and across the Jordan to be tempted by Satan. He traveled to Galilee to begin his work there. And then today, the day before Ash Wednesday, we are told, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Literally he set his face towards Jerusalem.” This is where he had to go. This was his destiny. This is where prophets die. This is where he would die. It was always the goal, always the destiny, always the place he would end up.
Now think about where we have been this church year. We anticipated Christ’s arrival in Advent. We celebrated that incarnation at Christmas, God was on the move and his footsteps shook the world! We heard about his ministry in Galilee. He was revealed to us as true man and true God in an epiphany only a divine revelation could provide for us. And now it is time for use to go to Jerusalem too. We resolutely turn our faces to that craggily hill where blood will flow. It is our destiny, our goal. It was always going to be this way. But there is another Jerusalem, a golden one, which is Christ’s and our final, final destination. God’s on the move and so are we.
Jesus moves from glory to cross but really it is a move from glory to double glory for being lifted up on the cross will be his ultimate glory. At the cross there is love like no human ever saw before. Down from the Mount of Transfiguration he went. And when he did he left behind transfigured glory. He told his disciples to keep quiet about they saw. He chastised them for arguing about who will be the greatest in the kingdom. In righteous anger he rebuked them for asking if they could call down fire from heaven upon the Samaritan village that did not welcome them. Good thing, for they would abandon him soon enough – they wouldn’t want their unrighteous anger then, would they? Down from the mount he went because Jerusalem was the density.
You and I go for the ride not just in the church year as we follow his earth-shaking footsteps from Christmas to Easter but personally in our baptismal lives. He tells us to stop being obsessed about all the outwardly fantastic stuff he can do and has done. “God is great. God is awesome” – we get it – but Jerusalem… but cross… this is where he is to be found. This is his double glory. And this is our true comfort. Even though God is indeed awesome there are very few days we feel awesome. His double glory is dying for us, paying for our sins. His double glory is taking us through the baptismal ride of death and crucifixion with a resurrection on the other side. His double glory is when he seems to say, “I got this. I got you. Come with me to cross and grave, nothing will get in our way.” This mount, Mount Calvary, proclaims him “Redeemer – yours and mine.” It finishes the story of the Mount of Transfiguration. God’s on the move, down the Mount of Transfiguration and up the Mount of Calvary. God’s on the move and so are we.
So if we go with Christ, through cross and trial, through death and resurrection, if we travel with him, “alleluia” cannot always be our song. Not here and not now. But it will be permanently. It will in the Golden Jerusalem, our final, final destination. So we will practice heaven’s song here. We need to get ready. But we will not pretend. We not pretend that all is well. We will not ask him anymore, “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom?” We will no longer ask permission to bring judgment upon those who do not welcome us and our message. We will not pretend that God’s kingdom was for here. That’s not fully human, that’s not compassionate, that’s not honest. We will mourn with the world, it is good and right so to do.
Oh, we will pierce the darkness down here with “alleluia,” passionate “alleluias.” We will pierce the darkness with voices that have seen the pain, with hearts that have ached, with bodies that have been through it all but have been promised a transfigured glorious body like Christ’s. We will pierce the darkness with “alleluia” and the only way we can do that is with the authenticity of first being in the darkness. So we will go down the mount of Transfiguration and up the Mount of Calvary in this life. In this life we will bear crosses. In this life we will enter the darkness with Christ. In this life he will pull us through the darkness. In this life we will sing the funeral dirge and heaven’s song, “alleluia.” And so in symbolism of all of this we bid farewell. We bid farewell to “alleluia” for Lent. But we will pierce the darkness on Easter Sunday and the song will be that much sweeter. And then we will be ready, we will be ready for heaven’s choir. We’ll get there. We’re on the move and so is God. And we move with him.
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