Off the deep end

I hope it is okay for your preacher to go off the deep end occasionally, because I am taking a flying leap today! I continue to noodle over what I called the “existential fermata” I mentioned in that series of sermons based on Gen 1—that pause, as in music, that is outside of time, between being and non-being that captures the moment of creation in the “And” of Gen 1:3, the moment of salvation captured in baptism (Mark 1:10), and the moment of death. In each of these liminal or threshold moments, a change in being occurs: coming into being (birth/creation), transformation of being (baptism), becoming a new being (death). This Sunday in Transfiguration Sunday. The transfiguration of Jesus is such an existential fermata: a moment outside of time between being and non-being. I’ll talk more about this on Sunday, but right now I want to focus on the OT reading from 2 Kings 2, which contains a motif or troupe common in the OT: the dividing of waters. Elijah and then Elisha divide the waters of the Jordan so they can pass through on dry firm ground (2 Kings 2), which echoes Joshua dividing the waters of Jordan so the people of Israel can pass through on dry firm ground (Josh 4-5), which echoes Moses dividing the waters of the Red Sea so the people of Israel can pass through on dry firm ground (Ex 14), which echoes God dividing the waters at creation so that dry firm ground (Latin: terra firma) could be brought into being (Gen 1:6-7). In all these instances, water that flows, like time, like being, is paused so that a passing between states of being can occur on terra firma: from chaos to order (Gen 1); from slavery to freedom (Ex 14); from the sacred (land of Israel) to the profane (Josh 4-5; 2 Kings 2). What does this mean? Could it be that it is in these “existential fermatas” (Latin: fermare—“make firm”) that God intervenes to transform our being into becoming? Well, I’ll continue to noodle on this. Meanwhile, join us this Sunday Live on Facebook at 11:00 for a Transfiguration worship service titled, “Behind the Veil.”

Mark 9:2-3: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.