I’m writing this in the rain. I’m not in the rain, but I’m in my office looking out at the gray skies and wonderful, wonderful rain. After our long drought, this is so welcome by all of us; even with the inconvenience rains bring to hillside communities like ours.
Curiously, when I visited Santa Barbara before becoming your pastor, I only saw gray skies and rain. We flew in and flew out in stormy, rainy conditions, never seeing the mountains or the Channel Islands. All we saw were twisting roads and low-lying clouds. Committee members would tell us about the gorgeous mountains and scenic views; and we believed them, but did not see them until the weekend I officially met you all. Then the sun shined brightly and the view from the park on the Mesa gave us a clear view of the Channel Islands and the mountains that frame Santa Barbara. The difference? Light.
Weather is not something we can choose. We cannot choose the weather around us (unless we choose to fly or drive to another climate) only adapt to it. We can’t always choose our spiritual weather either. There are times of struggle and pain and times of joy and peace. But we do have a choice about the spiritual light around us. We can choose to live in light or darkness. We can choose to surround ourselves with the words and spirit of Jesus or ignore him. The text for Sunday (John 12:34-50) is Jesus’ invitation to step into the light he alone brings and leave the darkness of spiritual lies.
Sunday also happens to be Transfiguration Sunday, the event when Jesus was surrounded by Moses and Elijah in bright radiance. Transfiguration is the Sunday immediately before the beginning of Lent, which is the 40 day period of preparation for Easter.