We tease Peter for always saying the wrong thing.
He’s all heart, that Peter.
That fisherman gone falling in love with Jesus,
worshiping the ground he walks on and the storm he stills.
This fisherman with a raging heart to match the sea he sails.
He knows the holy when he sees it.
He flips his lid for it, all the time.
He climbs out of the boat to walk on water when Jesus says “come on!”
He jumps out of the boat and swims a hundred yards to shore one morning,
because he sees the risen Jesus there cooking breakfast.
He’s all in. Always.
This week he’s exuberant about building some tents!
It’s what his Hebrew upbringing taught him about what you do with The Holy.
You build your life around it.
That’s what his ancestors did in the Wilderness after they escaped from slavery in Egypt. They built the God-Tent in the middle of the community, then circled it around with the people-tents.
This Holy presence of cloud by day and fire by night. Right there in the middle.
Up on this mountaintop, Peter suddenly knows himself to be in the presence of the Almighty and feels compelled to build some tents, [ tents, booths, tabernacles, . . . all of these are just different Bible words meaning a branchy structure that you can get inside of, some of them more elaborate than others].
Spot on Peter! Go for it!
Name the Holy One as Holy;
See him, love him, grab hold of him;
build your life around him!
Great instincts! What a beautiful wild heart!
But Jesus tells Peter, “we won’t build our tents up here, but we’ll go back down the mountain together, and for now, we’ll guard our Holy experience with silence. We’ll stay inside of it, together, while we go out into the world.
We’ll live inside of it, out there.
So, my thought about this gospel text, as our crescendo of light culminates and transitions into Lent, and we descend into the wilderness with this Incarnate Holy One, Jesus,
is this. . .
I want to think of Lent as a practice of tenting with the Holy One. Sans branches.
So how do I build this walking talking sleeping waking tent-life, with this precious sacred presence?
What could I do, to weave together a keeping place, guard some kind of silent stillness, with a structure of loosely bound branches (aka ~ a Lenten discipline) for keeping close company with the Holy One?
I’m thinking about what I could put in place.
What could you put in place,
that would make you, as you move about in your daily life, acutely aware that you are the temple, the tent, the booth, the house. . . of God. . .and that you live in this transitional housing called the human body, with God, night and day, day in and day out?
What about you?
What would help you guard, keep, tend, the presence of this brilliant new light of Epiphany that shines in your heart?
What would help you live inside of it, the presence and experience, of the holy one?
How will you structure your tent, this Lent?
Reverend Ruth Pattison
Rev. Pattison serves the people of Highpoint Episcopal Community Church as the Parson, exercising her gifts for collaborative leadership through preaching, liturgy, and the pastoral arts.