Are You Awake?
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. (Luke 9:32)
Everyone seems ready for spring, even me. Yes, I enjoy winter and I love snow, but at this point in Ohio's cycle of the seasons, what's the point? All we get in March are wild temperature swings, windy days, and lots of mud! Yes, even I am ready for spring!
Like winter, spring is one of my four favorite seasons. I love seeing the flowers bloom, the trees bud and blossom, and the birds return after their winter hiatus. It's like everything starts to wake up after a long, winter's nap.
Perhaps that should be our approach to the season of Lent which begins tomorrow, March 2, Ash Wednesday. The word Lent means 'lengthening' and refers to the lengthening of daylight in the northern hemisphere this time of year, or so I am told in every Lenten devotional I have read. Lent can also be a time of 'lengthening' our attention span and stretching our awareness of God's work and God's presence in our lives and our world. Like the creation around us, Lent can be a time of awakening.
Luke tells us that when Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up on the mountain for his transfiguration, they were tired. Worn out. They had been running this way and that, following Jesus, absorbing his teachings. I imagine it was exhausting. But even though they were "weighed down with sleep" they somehow "stayed awake" and were able to witness the glory in front of them.
In roughly six weeks we will hear a very different story. As Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he is arrested and the eve of his crucifixion, he returns to his disciples and finds them asleep. "Are you asleep? Can't you stay awake for just one hour?" Jesus asks in the gospel of Mark.
Can we stay awake? Can we stay awake to God's will for our lives and our world? Can we stay awake to God's glory expressed all around us? Can we stay awake to God's call to love and forgive and offer mercy? Can we stay awake in a world that weighs us down so heavily and lulls us asleep at the very moment the world needs us most?
As the days grow longer, may our appreciation for all God has done grow, too.
As springs breaks forth from winters' cold grasp, may we leap forward into new life, awake to the Spirit's work.
As Lent begins, may we commit to stay awake and be ever ready for the work of the beloved community of God.