When their eyes adjusted, they saw Elijah and Moses talking to Jesus and, just when they were trying to figure out what they should do, a cloud overshadowed them and they heard a voice say,
And then, every thing cleared and everyone was gone and all they saw was Jesus.
I've never forgotten that. It encourages me to celebrate being a fool for Christ from time to time.
But the thing I really love about Ed is that, when he gets excited about something, when a ministry plan is coming together or when he sees an old friend he hasn’t seen in a very long time, or when he’s heard a beautiful piece of music, or even when you set a plate of food in front of him that makes his mouth water, you can count on Ed to say this:
These things are not going to make headlines or be featured on the cover of Newsweek or Time magazine.
In these moments of small acts of kindness, the glory of God is made manifest and little shafts of light pierce the darkness of despair.
They are The Glory People. They are small but not insignificant manifestations of the glory of God.
Which made her very, very sad.
And, very, very angry.
Ms. Parks rarely came out of her room at Memorial House. She took all of her meals in her room, did not participate in any of the community activities and most certainly did not attend the weekly Eucharist or any other prayer service in the Chapel.
Ms. Parks was very polite but very stiff and formal. I remember that, at the end of my visit, she would ask me for a prayer before I left. And, like a good, newly ordained Episcopalian, I would turn to the BCP and find a suitable prayer.
And she, being a good wife of a Baptist pastor, would scoff.
And yet, something in me knew she was right. Why couldn't I pray from my heart? Why did I need THAT book?
I decided to risk my sense of pride for the small favor of praying for this woman in the way that was most meaningful for her.
I closed my eyes – tight – and began to pray. Extemporaneously. Without one of the magnificent words of the Prayer Book in front of me. If I remember correctly, I even clenched my fists as I prayed. At the end of which, I opened my eyes and looked at Ms. Parks.
To my horror and great distress, I found that she was weeping.
And, we were both changed and transformed and never again were we the same.
I'll tell you this: It was shortly after that that Ms. Parks started taking her meals in the dining room. A few months later, she started participating in the community activities. By the fall, she was one of the first ones in line to get on the bus for one of their trips.
As for me, well, I began to pray privately and pastorally and publicly in a whole new way. I began to take risks and just pray from my heart. That lead me to begin to take some risks with preaching and try to move farther away from a manuscript and preach from my heart as I'm doing right now.
That may not seem like a lot to you and it has taken me quite a long time - and, in fact, the process is still on-going - but I continue to hear Ed Bacon cheer me on by saying, "Sometimes, in order to be faithful to Jesus, you've got to take a big risk for something small."
Ms. Parks and I became one of The Glory People
It is the Love of God in Christ Jesus that is transformative.
It is the Love of God in Christ Jesus that is transfiguring.
It is the Love of God in Christ Jesus that is dramatic and powerful and shines a light on the dullness of our humanity.
It is the Love of God in Christ Jesus that is a beacon of hope amidst the occasional dark moments of our lives.
Look for it. Look for the possibility of your own transformation.
Look for opportunities to engage in it, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it may seem.
Celebrate it when you see it.
A smile when you don't want to.
Reach out and touch someone when you'd rather be all alone by yourself.
Do something kind when you'd rather do just about anything else.
Here's another possibility: You just might hear a voice from a cloud of doubt which lurks over the deep recesses of your innermost soul:
"You - and YOU - and YOU and YOU and YOU - are my beloved child. With YOU I am well pleased."
No promises, but I know for a natural fact that it has been known to happen.
If it can happen for Ms. Parks and me, it can happen for you, too.