Jesús, acompañado de Pedro, Juan y Jacobo, subió a una montaña a orar.
A medida que llegamos al final de una temporada en el calendario cristiano y estamos a punto de comenzar otra, me sorprende cómo una nueva perspectiva sobre las mismas circunstancias puede transformar la vida. La Cuaresma nos invita a vernos a nosotros mismos y a nuestro mundo a través de su lente particular, y lo cambia todo, incluso si, en la superficie, la vida parece muy parecida.
Si estás en la iglesia este domingo, escucharás de un tiempo en que Jesús subió a una montaña para orar y tuvo un encuentro místico con los espíritus de Moisés y Elías. Querían hablar con él, según Lucas, “sobre su partida, que estaba a punto de suceder en Jerusalén”.
En otras palabras, Moisés y Elías estaban preparando a Jesús para su muerte. La palabra que Lucas usa para describir su encuentro es “gloria”. Jesús parecía iluminado por la experiencia, cambiado, de alguna manera. No debería sorprendernos que Pedro, Juan y Jacobo no entendieran lo que estaba sucediendo, porque la experiencia no estaba destinada para ellos. Estaba destinada para Jesús. Más adelante en el mismo capítulo, Lucas nos dice que Jesús decidió “encaminarse” hacia donde estaba su destino.
La Cuaresma comienza el próximo miércoles con un recordatorio de nuestra mortalidad. Dura 40 días, según el modelo del tiempo de Jesús en el desierto antes de que él comenzara su ministerio público. Pero también podemos tomar nuestra inspiración cuaresmal de su larga caminata desde la montaña de la gloria hasta la cruz.
Cuando Jesús descendió, el torbellino de la necesidad humana le esperaba. Antes de tener la oportunidad de respirar, estaba de vuelta al trabajo como antes. Aun cuando caminaba a Jerusalén, la vida parecía ser la misma. Él contó algunas de sus parábolas más memorables en el camino, incluyendo el Hijo Pródigo y el Buen Samaritano. Hizo el intento de viajar a áreas que otros judíos evitaban, y habló con aquellos considerados como marginados del amor inclusivo de Dios. Cenó con sus amigos cercanos Marta, María y Lázaro y honró la elección de María de ocupar su lugar entre los hombres en lugar de ocuparse en la cocina. Estas son las historias que recordamos, no el viaje en el que tuvieron lugar.
Pero para Jesús fue el viaje lo que importaba, su destino más importante en su mente. La única pista que se nos da de que el tiempo se estaba acabando fue la manera en que Jesús enseñó a sus discípulos. Había una urgencia en su tono, ya que les dijo repetidamente que no estaría con ellos mucho más tiempo, algo que hicieron todo lo posible por ignorar.
La Cuaresma comienza con esta exhortación: Recuerda que eres polvo, y al polvo volverás. He dicho estas palabras mientras imponía cenizas en la frente de octogenarios y niños pequeños, de personas cuyo funeral presidiría más tarde ese año y de aquellos que bien podrían asistir a mi funeral algún día.
Enfrentar nuestra mortalidad no significa ser morboso; de hecho, nos ayuda a vivir con tanto significado y alegría como sea posible, todos los días somos bendecidos por estar vivos.
He tenido unos cuantos encuentros con la muerte en mi vida, algunos me quitaron el aliento en el momento y luego pasó tan rápido que podría olvidar que alguna vez sucedió. Cada vez, sin embargo, me dejaron con una gratitud abrumadora de que todavía estaba viva, y una aguda conciencia de que la vida es preciosa, para ser vivida cada día, no sólo soportada.
La Cuaresma ofrece la oportunidad de un restablecimiento espiritual o personal, la determinación de comenzar o renovar una práctica o intención. 40 días es suficiente para establecer un nuevo hábito, aprender algo nuevo, hacer un compromiso significativo o emprender una aventura. Una iglesia que admiro está preguntando a sus miembros cómo quieren ser diferentes para la Pascua. Es una gran pregunta, una que estoy reflexionando personalmente.
Su congregación local es un buen lugar para encontrar oportunidades de crecimiento y conexión, y espero que encuentren algo que les hable. No están destinados a añadir una cosa más a su vida, sino más bien proporcionar una lente diferente a través del cual experimentar su vida.
Mi invitación es esta: encontrar un lugar tranquilo cada día en la Cuaresma y volver la mirada hacia Jesús. Pídele que te dé la gracia de verte como te ve. Pídele que te ayude a saborear el día, y vivirlo bien, a través de todos sus desafíos y bendiciones. Pide ser una bendición. Entonces levántate, para vivir tu misma vida con una nueva perspectiva.
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
As we come to the end of one season in the Christian calendar and are about to begin another, I’m struck by how a new perspective on the same circumstances can be life-transforming. Lent invites us to see ourselves and our world through its particular lens, and it changes everything, even if, on the surface, life seems much the same.
If you’re in church this Sunday, you’ll hear of a time when Jesus went up a mountain to pray and had a mystical encounter with the spirits of Moses and Elijah. They wanted to speak to him, according to Luke, “about his departure, which he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.”
In other words, Moses and Elijah were preparing Jesus for his death. The word Luke uses to describe their encounter is glory. Jesus seemed illuminated by the experience, changed, somehow. It shouldn’t surprise us that Peter, James and John didn’t understand what was happening, because the experience wasn’t meant for them. It was meant for Jesus. Later in the same chapter Luke tells us that Jesus decided “to turn his face” toward where his destiny lay.
Lent begins next Wednesday with a reminder of our mortality. It lasts 40 days, patterned after Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he began his public ministry. But we can also take our Lenten inspiration from his long walk from the mountain of glory to the cross.
When Jesus came down, the whirlwind of human need awaited him. Before he had a chance to catch his breath, he was back at work as before. Even as he trekked to Jerusalem, life seemed much the same. He told some of his most memorable parables on the road, including the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. He made a point of traveling to areas that other Jews avoided, and he spoke to those deemed as outcasts of God’s inclusive love. He had dinner with his close friends Martha, Mary and Lazarus and honored Mary’s choice to take her place among the men rather than busy herself in the kitchen. These are the stories we remember, not the journey on which they took place.
But for Jesus it was the journey that mattered, its destination foremost in his mind. The one clue we’re given that time was running out was in the way Jesus taught his disciples. There was an urgency to his tone, as he repeatedly told them that he would not be with them much longer—something they did their best to ignore.
Lent begins with this exhortation: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. I have said these words while imposing ashes on the foreheads of octogenarians and young children, of people whose funeral I would preside at later that year and those who may well attend my funeral someday.
Facing our mortality isn’t meant to be morbid; in fact, it helps us live with as much meaning and joy as possible, every day we’re blessed to be alive.
I’ve had a few brushes with death in my lifetime–near misses, mostly, that took my breath away in the moment and then passed so quickly that, if I chose, I could forget they ever happened. Each time, however, I was left with overwhelming gratitude that I was still alive, and an acute awareness that life is precious, to be lived each day, not merely endured.
Lent provides the opportunity for a spiritual or personal reset, the resolve to begin or renew a practice or intention. 40 days is long enough to establish a new habit, learn something new, make a meaningful commitment, or set out on an adventure. One church I admire is asking its members how they want to be different by Easter. It’s a great question, one that I’m pondering for myself.
Your local congregation is a good place to find opportunities for growth and connection, and I hope that you find an offering that speaks to you. They aren’t meant to add one more thing to your life, but rather provide a different lens through which to experience your life.
My invitation to you is this: find a quiet place each day in Lent and turn your gaze toward Jesus. Ask him to give you the grace to see yourself as he sees you. Ask him to help you savor the day, and live it well, through all its challenges and blessings. Ask to be a blessing. Then rise, to live your same life with a new perspective.
Some of the volunteers from All Souls, DC, St. John’s, Lafayette Square and St. Mary’s, Arlington, helping to furnish an apartment for an Afghan refugee family
After a month of preparation and hard work, a cross-city and cross diocese partnership welcomed an Afghan refugee family on February 16th. All Souls and St. John’s Lafayette Square from the Diocese of Washington and St. Mary’s in Arlington from the Diocese of Virginia joined together to settle an Afghan father and mother and their three small children into a three-bedroom apartment the churches have rented and furnished for the family.
While the parishes all have past experience supporting refugees, leadership in each parish liked the idea of a partnership approach, given the amount of ongoing support the family will require–from language, education, and self-development resources to health and human services, to legal, financial, and other assistance–to be successful.
Embry Howell, who leads the work at All Souls and sought out partners, said “All Souls had successfully partnered with two DC parishes in 2016 to support an Afghan family, so we wanted to replicate that success. We were delighted to find such amazing and willing partners in St. John’s and St. Mary’s.”
Dana Martin, Senior Warden at St. Mary’s agreed, saying, “We liked the idea of adding this to the other ministries in our parish. It’s remarkable how well the partnership is working. Back in my corporate days I’d call it synergy. Now I think it’s better to call it the Holy Spirit.”
Gay and Bob Pasley, longtime stalwarts at St. John’s whose college friendship with Embry led to the parishes’ connection agreed. “We’re so happy to share all we’ve learned over the years. Each parish brings a lot to the table.” Jessica Sanchez of the same parish added, “St. John’s had a whole storage locker stuffed with items we were able to use to furnish the apartment.”
Patty Hammond of St. Mary’s shared that it’s been fun to see how every member of the “Tri Parish Refugee Support Circle” as it’s called, has brought their own skills to the table, hers being her former life as a teacher and her connection to Episcopal Migration Ministries.
Interim Rector at All Souls Parish, the Rev. Dr. Julianne Buenting, stated her support for the project this way: “I’m just as thrilled about how this encourages our own spiritual transformation at All Souls as I am about our following the biblical imperative to welcome the stranger. The Holy Family was once a refugee family. We need to remember that.”
On February 19th, 2012, ten years ago, almost to the day, I stepped into the pulpit of Calvary Episcopal Church in Washington, DC as its rector for the first time.
The moment was fraught with the tensions and troubles of race. Calvary is one among the District’s few remaining historically Black congregations. Throughout their hundred year plus history, they’d always had a Black rector, a history they were justifiably proud of. I was their first white pastor, and only the second white clergyperson to serve there in any capacity.
Calvary is a congregation with deep roots in its neighborhood, a neighborhood that struggled to rebuild in the wake of the riots following Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, and the governmental under-resourcing that followed. In 2012, the H Street Corridor was just beginning to see an infusion of new capital that would transform it completely. Much of that money has gone toward accommodating newly arrived white residents and white-owned businesses, fueling a demographic shift that has moved the neighborhood from majority Black in 2021, to what is either now, or very soon to be, majority white.
Exactly one week later, on February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman would lynch Trayvon Martin. Outrage over that crime would galvanize a new push in this nation’s four hundred year long struggle for Black liberation.
That was the subtext of our first Sunday together, but while the contrasts and contradictions were particularly vivid in that moment, the reality is that the history and ongoing legacy of white supremacy impacts every last relationship in this nation, especially (but not only) those that take place across lines of race.
We aren’t always good at acknowledging that reality. But we must face its truth, as Jesus taught: “Know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Calvary has tried to tell that truth. Sometimes in uncomfortable conversations. Always in our shared labor to make a change.
Following Michael Brown’s murder in 2014, Calvary convened a discussion between police and community leaders about Police-Communuty relations. The Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, our associate pastor at the time, launched The Center for the Study of Faith and Justice at Calvary to continue these conversations.
We formed a partnership with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) to push for reform. We hosted Kojo Nmandi, The Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas and the community historian Dr. Jocelyn Imani to offer educational and evocational opportunities for racial justice discipleship formation. We partnered with the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) to push for affordable housing, and with Sanctuary DMV and ICE Out of DC to push for immigrant safety and rights in the city. Our leaders helped launch “Survive And Thrive,” an initiative of the Union of Black Episcopalians to cooperatively strengthen and revitalize the historically and predominantly Black congregations of the Diocese. A racial justice reading group we convened grew and transformed into The Reparations Task Force of the Diocese, which is now working to help the Diocese toward reckoning with and making restitution on the benefit it has derived from white supremacy. We’ve marched and written letters. Throughout it all, we’ve continued our ministries of feeding, mentoring and support to the neighborhood we love.
None of these efforts is new. They are of one cloth with Calvary’s rich century-old tapestry of witness: against white supremacy, and for the Gospel.
And all of that history is complicated, troubling and messy. White supremacy hasn’t left any of us with clean pictures. We get things wrong. We get complacent. We show our rough and growing edges.
Speaking personally, I continue to stumble over the tracks of white supremacy in my own thinking. And still, the threads of God’s liberating grace are visible throughout my journey.
These are the messy truths each of our congregations must learn to tell. Not so that we can understand the story of white supremacy, but so that we can find a way forward to free ourselves from it. As the man said: “Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The Rev. Peter Jarrett-Schell, rector, Calvary Episcopal Church and author of Seeing My Skin: A Story of Wrestling with Whiteness
On January 29 the Convention of the Diocese of Washington approved a resolution establishing a Task Force on Black Ministries. Task force members will be appointed by the Diocesan Council from congregations that are historically Black or have a predominately Black membership and will also include a representative from the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE).
The Task Force on Black Ministries is charged with the priorities of looking at past injustices and recommending strategies and the resources needed to make Black parishes viable in the diocese. The sponsors of this resolution thought it was critical to enhance the vitality of Black parishes. According to an article in the Philadelphia Tribune, 75 percent of Black priests come from Black parishes. Black parish vitality is critical to ensure the representation of Black clergy in the diocese. The Task Force on Black Ministries will examine practices and models in evangelism, worship, and mission that would be more conducive to Black parish revitalization from the Black church perspective.
This task force will open opportunities for Black parishes throughout the diocese to collaborate and strategize together about how best to live out mission and ministry in the 21st century of the Jesus Movement. The task force will report its recommendations to the Diocese of Washington in September of 2022.
Task Force on Black Ministries Application (submission deadline is 5:00 p.m., Friday, February 25.)
The Rev. Antonio Baxter
Deacon, Church of the Atonement, DC