Celebrates Twenty Years of equipping and supporting faith communities!

A message for the week starting on Sunday 27 February 2022

Lectionary Week: Transfiguration of Jesus

Prescribed Texts: Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Luke 9:28-43

Sleeping in a World Awake

Focus Text:  Luke 9:28-43

In October 2004, I wrote a poem titled “Sleeping in a World Awake”. The second stanza reads:

“We sleep
As HIV runs through our land
Ravaging our young
Stealing our longevity
Depleting our population
Weakening the strong
Destroying our people”

The thoughts of the disciples of Jesus didn’t fill my heart at the time of writing, but the indifference and lack of understanding that we display in the face of the devastation of HIV. And that filled my heart with sadness. This same sadness fills my heart as I think of the indifference of the disciples of Jesus Christ.

The transfiguration story is one of the highlights of the ministry of Jesus and Jesus picked three of His core disciples, Peter, James and John, to witness it and share in this mystifying experience and compelling mission.

They were His partners, associates, disciples who had seen Him in all His humanity. Now Jesus was giving them an opportunity to share in His divinity, to behold His majesty and glory as the Son of God, to hear how God, His heavenly Father, authenticates His person and ministry.

You would wonder how sleep could overtake them, but it did; sleep, for whatever reason, overtakes even the best of us at the oddest of times. Luke 9:32 records that “Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw His glory . . .”. Thank God, they remembered the event as Jesus intended and this was recorded in 2 Peter 1:16-18.

What made the disciples sleepy in the midst of such a moment of glory? Was it their inability to understand the Saviour’s agenda? Was it lack of understanding of their role and calling as witnesses? Was it sheer carelessness or selfishness? Could this be why Peter opted to remain on the mountain, rather than return to the world where people live enduring various struggles? Then they could not heal a boy molested by an evil spirit! Can we then understand Jesus’ frustrations at His disciples’ inability to perform for God, because of their indifference and selfishness?

Could these reasons also be why we ourselves are asleep today in the midst of the many critical issues of our world: issues of HIV, violence, abuse, neglect of the differently-abled and many forms of poverty? “We sleep while the thief steals, kills and destroys . . .” (John 10:10).

So, what causes us to sleep? Is it our fear or inability to do the miraculous that makes us escape into the sleep of carelessness and inaction? Do we forget that the miraculous belongs to God, but we need to heed the call to be awake, the obligation to care for the suffering and to express this care in acts of loving kindness, compassion and grace?

To think about or discuss: We must identify and name the things that cause our lethargy in the face of pain and disease.

Written by: Rev. Jessie Fubara-Manuel, Presbyterian Church of Nigeria, trained Churches Channels of Hope (CCoH) facilitator