2nd Sunday of Lent Cycle C February 24, 2013
Genesis 15:5-12,17-18 Philippians 3:17-4:1 Luke 9:28b-36
Become a tentmaker. Whatever it is we do, or have done, become and remain a tentmaker.
Are you a sportswriter? Become a tentmaker. Are you a teacher? Become a tentmaker also! Are you retired and playing golf every day, even in the snow? Carry a bag that carries tents also! You own your own business? Own a tent-making business also!
Be a tentmaker. At least in the model of Peter, John, and James. These guys didn’t know how to make a tent any more than they knew how to save themselves. They probably wouldn’t know how much material to buy; how many or the size pegs to purchase; where they could get a hammer; where to pitch the tent so it doesn’t get blown away. They probably knew very little, if any, about making a tent. Yet, they wanted to make three tents on the mountain. Even though their expertise was grounded in being fishermen, they were hoping to expand their occupation and skills on the mountain and become tentmakers. And they had every right to expect a 2nd occupation. Jesus called them personally to it.
What is a tentmaker in the context of the Transfiguration? A tentmaker, very simply, is a disciple of Christ. Yes, there are those in our world who make tents along with many other camping supplies. Any outdoors company does so. They are very good at their trade. But just because they can make a tent for camping and such doesn’t mean they are tentmakers for the Lord. To be a tentmaker for Christ means that we plan on staying with Jesus for a long time to come. In fact, for good. That when all the rains and floods and winds and landslides and blizzards of this world come upon us, our tent of discipleship does not get blown away, exposing our lives to the bare elements of this world without any spiritual protection.
So many folks we know are presently dealing with death and/or illness. The list is long, just in our parish alone. The bad stuff comes upon us at times like a freight train barreling down on our daily routine, getting in the way of the many necessary parts of our lives, especially the ones we enjoy. And when such challenges come our way, we are in desperate need of a strong tent. A tent that, among other truths, is a reminder of the good – the great – of what God has waiting.
There’s the thought we’re all familiar with, that in situations of death and disease, we don’t know how people deal with such adversity without faith. Think about that thought! How do we begin to understand, or where is the hope, without an active faith in God? Is it possible to survive and be joyful, by way of not kidding ourselves, without the tent that Peter wants to make on the mountain? Remove that tent from our lives, and not only are we lost, but we expose our souls to a sinful world without any spiritual protection. The tent Peter so badly wants to make on the mountain of Transfiguration…is the Church. The Church of Jesus Christ is the tent in our world that brings us in contact and in union with the living God. And we are all tentmakers who build up the Church.
I have a lifelong prayer; it’s the prayer that all people will have a 2nd occupation. That we learn how to make our own tent, a tent that is so durable and strong, that whatever happens in our world, we will never unloosen the pegs and search for some other ground that takes us away from the words, “This is my chosen Son, listen to him.”
I pray this prayer because of Peter’s reaction. The mountain is symbolic of heaven, while the tent is symbolic of the Church on earth. This is appropriate size-wise because the mountain is much larger than the tent. What happens up there on the mountain, as Jesus turns eight shades of white, and Moses and Elijah appear in conversation, is that Peter, John, and James receive a small taste of the bigger picture. At different times and to different degrees, we may receive the same in our lives. I’ve heard too many God-connected stories to believe otherwise. Where the experience of what happens to a person is so profound that they wish to stay in the moment. They will even take on a 2nd occupation in order to stay, the experience is so other-worldly.
On the 2nd Sunday of Lent, we’re directed towards a 2nd occupation that should by all accounts have first billing in our lives. Being a tentmaker for Christ, in the model of Peter, John, and James, requires we carry our tent, our discipleship, into all places we find ourselves. They were fishermen, but also tentmakers for Christ. They wanted some of his glory. Their incentive was a holy experience of the future. They read the signs and embraced the signs.
May this season of Lent be a reminder for us that as we pray, fast, and give alms, as we offer up time in the desert, at the end of the road awaits a condition that carries us beyond death and disease. A small taste of his victory touches us today. It requires we become a tentmaker for His Son, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.