This weekend, Christians remember the Transfiguration, when Jesus went up a mountain with his closest disciples and his whole appearance was transformed, as his body glowed with the power of God upon him. In Mark's gospel story, it was also the beginning of the progress towards Jerusalem, the crucifixion and the Resurrection.
That march to the cross is also marked next week with the beginning of Lent, the 40 days before Easter. Lent is a period associated with 'doing without'; that used to mean fasting but nowadays some may give up other favourite things. The real point of Lent was to give people time to focus on Jesus's life and to follow him to whatever fate that meant for them. The arrival of Easter was and is seen as a triumph of faith, of the gift of life after death and the supremacy of God's will over even the mightiest of earthly rulers.
It's a lesson that has drawn millions to faith and continues to do so all around the world. The belief behind it, the story of faith in God even to death itself, has also helped millions through their darkest hours, when death and suffering seemed all around them with no hope for the future.
As we look forward to the vaccinations that will rescue those of us left from the darkness of Covid-19, we can also draw on our faith as a source of strength and resilience. We can see that the Son that we follow carried on from that climb up a mountain, to face a death even more horrible than we can think of nowadays, then came out the other side of that death to eternal life, proving to each of us that this was available to us too. We pray for all those who have suffered and died from Covid-19 and who are still facing that; we pray for those left behind in grief and loss; we pray for all those who will come through this pandemic, that they can become open to a faith that can transform their lives. As we pass through Lent, we pray for all this and for the magnificent people of the NHS working to save us all from this disease. Amen.