Beware Humpty Dumpty thinking.
It is probably a long time since you thought about Humpty Dumpty. And, when you did, you probably thought about an egg, a wall and the King’s horses and men and wondered what Lewis Carol was drinking when he wrote that poem. Here’s another quote from the great man; ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
At the heart of our first reading from 2 Peter is the question of interpretation. The author, in the middle of a complicated argument, says that his claims about Jesus are true because he heard them at the Mount of Transfiguration. This, it appears to the writer, is the trump card, the slam dunk, the end of the argument. What he says is true. There is no more to be said. There is interpretation required.
The writer is talking about the experience he had (actually, probably not the author himself but the author’s teacher, the real Peter). The memory of that was so overwhelming that (the real) Peter was utterly convinced that Christ would come again. This is not a debate we need to get into.
What we can think about, however, are the grounds that matter to us when we claim we are people of faith. If the experience of Transfiguration bowled Peter over and led him to follow Jesus, what would we say? What would we tell others? What is our interpretation? And how important is that for us?
Why do these questions matter? We are about to step into Lent. We need to be able to tell others why this Holy Season is important to us. People will and do say all sorts of things about what they do and why they do it. We need to be able to give our own interpretation of why Christ matters. Humpty Dumpty rightly warns us that words and ideas are immensely slippery. We need words that are true for us.
As we approach Lent, let us try out words that explain why we go to Church, who Jesus is for us today and how following him can transform lives, live holy lives and walk the ways of peace, forgiveness and healing.