In the Beginning

By Marcy Barthelette

It began on an ordinary night in an ordinary stable to ordinary people before an ordinary audience, though it was anything but ordinary. It was the beginning of the greatest story ever told. The beauty of that statement is that it wasn’t just a story. It was, and is, a promise to each of us.

No day is accidental or incidental. No acts are random or wasted. Look at the Bethlehem birth. A king ordered a census. Joseph was forced to travel. Mary, as round as a ladybug, bounced on a donkey’s back. The hotel was full. The hour was late. The event was one big hassle. Yet, out of the hassle, hope was born.

Max Lucado, Because of Bethlehem

Just a few short weeks ago we celebrated the birth of the Baby and now we begin the somber journey to the Cross. As I write, we don’t know whether Aldersgate will come together in person for Ash Wednesday or observe it virtually. I suppose it’s only fitting that, as with the most important dates during the past year, this one is also being impacted. This time, COVID isn’t the only culprit. Old man winter has reared an ugly side of his personality. Oh yes, the snow is lovely, but the cold is something most of us can likely do without. Wherever we are on Ash Wednesday, it is important to turn our thoughts to the events leading up to Easter morning. It is the time we are to examine ourselves, to learn where we may be lacking, and to get our spiritual life back on track or find those tracks for the very first time.

Last Sunday, Pastor Dennis spoke of Jesus’ Transfiguration, meaning a change in form or appearance. Roughly a millennium and a half after Moses led the Israelites from Egyptian captivity and perhaps 900 or so years after the Prophet Elijah walked the earth in service to God, Jesus took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, on a little hike up a very high mountain. It was there that Jesus was suddenly transfigured from human to divine, completely clothed in sparkling white garments and standing in the company of Moses and Elijah. The disciples were awestruck and somewhat afraid, with Peter even suggesting that altars be built to the three spiritual beings.

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud:

“This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Mark 9:7


Just as suddenly as they had appeared, the spiritual beings disappeared, and the disciples were left just with Jesus, in His human form. Some theologians believe this encounter was meant as a sign that Jesus was to fulfill the Law and the prophets and to assure his three closest friends that He was surely the long-awaited Messiah. Yet while he unveiled Himself to these three disciples, he asked them not to talk about what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They still didn’t realize He referred to His own death.

How many of us are wandering in denial? How many throughout this world, and just as importantly, in our very own community, still don’t know that He died for every single one of us? As we journey through these next six weeks, let’s take a look at the man Jesus was and the role He plays in our lives today. Do we cordially invite Him into our hearts, or do we keep Him standing outside in the cold? Are we in the midst of our beginning or nearing our end? Are awestruck in His presence? We should be.

This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice

that deals with our sins.   CEB

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