The last Sunday of Epiphany is the day we celebrate the Transfiguration of Christ. Epiphany, a sudden sign of understanding, is used to describe this season of the church. In looking closely at the seasonal scriptures you realize we have relived the major events of Jesus’ life beginning with his baptism. We see Jesus accept all people, perform miracles, heal the sick and fulfill the prophesies of the Old Testament. Finally, we witness Jesus’ manifestation of himself as God.

Lent is the season of soul-searching and repentance that begins on Ash Wednesday. The wearing of ashes has become a sign of remorse, repentance and mourning. The forty days of Lent (skipping Sundays) represents Jesus’ retreat into the wilderness. This time of fasting and prayer was for him a time of contemplation, reflection and preparation for the hardest part of his ministry. On Ash Wednesday, we wear ashes to show our intent to participate in this period of sober reflection, self-examination and spiritual redirection.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that really does not involve starvation. Quite often, our actions are controlled by our appetites. The purpose of fasting is to make our appetites our servant rather than our master.

Life is not always uplifting and pleasant but as Christians we often lie to ourselves and others, that if we have enough faith all the bad things will fade away like a bad dream. But we miss the whole point of the incarnation. God became flesh in Jesus Christ. Jesus faced temptations. He suffered hunger and thirst. He even suffered the agony of betrayal and the pain of crucifixion. Jesus, our God did not face these things so that we would not have to go through any of them but that we would have dignity in them.

Some people would choose to only celebrate the happy times in Jesus’ life, Palm Sunday and Easter but his true friends dare to take the whole journey. As true Christians, we must be more than just Palm Sunday groupies. We must be bold enough to fast with him in the wilderness, pray with him in the garden and stand fearlessly at the foot of the cross, so that together we can witness his resurrection and ascension to join him in his triumphant reign.

Author's Bio: 

Joanne has been the official Adm. Assistant at Zion UCC of Tremont since 2000 and served the church by writing the worship service bulletins, and maintaining the church website at http://www.zionchurch.org Zion UCC has a very extensive community outreach. We are a small congregation with a big heart.