Sunday, February 19, 2012

Transfiguration


in a new light

Loving Lord, let your light shine in our lives,
let its brightness fill our hearts and transfigure us;
that, seeing your glory,
we may come to you in awe and wonder,
and gazing upon you may be changed into your likeness,
moving from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who with the Father and the Holy Spirit
is in eternal glory for ever and ever. Amen.

What happens when you see someone in a new light?
Have they changed?
Have you?

When we visit a friend at her home there she is in sweats and slippers, serving tea and talking about books. We settle into comfy chairs and a sofa, and the afternoon passes.

When we see her, keys in hand, ready to go out, she looks different, ready to face the world.

When I went to the bus stop one day in college, to get a ride down to my house, I saw a guy from my class standing there. Oh. He looked like a woolly-headed surfer to me. And so I expected no more. Then he spoke. “I am reading the greatest book and I cannot put it down!” Oh? What is it? “War and Peace. Oh, man! I just can’t put it down….”

D’oh! My mind was changed. My perception had been all wrong. And I’d lost out on two counts. I’d avoided reading War and Peace myself (any book that long must be hard). And I’d misjudged him – there was lot more to this guy than I had assumed there was.

My eyes were opened.

But rather than judgment what I experienced was transformation.

He may not have looked different but I saw him differently – and thanks to him, I saw other things differently too.

Jesus – did he look any different than he had before?

Certainly Peter and James and John saw him differently.

What the disciples witnessed was a theophany, a manifestation of the holy; and they saw it in their friend. Jesus had befriended them by the lakeshore, these three; and now he brought them on a hike up a high mountain. Heaven and earth were close together that day. At the top they experienced what they could not foresee, and could not talk about, until the resurrection made sense of what they saw.

What the disciples witnessed was like what the three elders of Israel saw on Mount Sinai. They had gone up with Moses to receive the life-giving Law. In a cloud for six days they waited. And then God was revealed, to Moses, I suppose: for when he emerged from the cloud his face was radiant. He shone like Jesus would shine.

What Elisha witnessed as he journeyed with his spiritual father, Elijah, from place to sacred place on his way to departure from this world was a theophany, God’s showing, of himself this time in chariots of fire, and horses of fire, as God swept up Elijah into a cloud of glory.

Jesus – did he look any different than he had before?

Certainly Peter and James and John saw him differently.

They saw him so differently that Peter could see him as the culmination and fulfillment of the long line of prophets to the people of Israel. There was Moses, the liberation leader, who brought the people through the desert to the edge of the Promised Land. There was Elijah, steadfast forerunner of the holy One, who met God on the mountain. And there was Jesus, right up there with them. This meant the end of Ordinary Time; it means this is the harvest-time of God, and Peter reacted appropriately.

Let’s build three booths, for the feast of booths, the grain festival at harvest time: let’s celebrate the beginning of the time when God will gather all his people to himself.

Boom! “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

God spoke from the cloud –

That is what Peter saw and heard.

What happened to Jesus? He was revealed – as who he truly was, in his glory. A glimpse of eternity, a glimpse of divinity: a glimpse of him as he always was, now shining forth.

How Peter sees Jesus is transformed.

He saw him in a new light. There was more to Jesus – and to Peter – than he’s expecting.

And so he responded, as best he knew how.

Peter led with faith. This is a faith seeking understanding, seeking meaning, seeking direction. Peter leads with faith seeking to comprehend what he sees in Christ, through action, active response to the revelation, through the act of following Jesus. He puts his trust in Jesus and so he willingly submits to the transformation that discipleship requires.

When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, when we know he is light to the world…

How we see Jesus is transformed.

How we see each other changes in light of what we have seen, in him. But—

How do we see our selves and others differently in the light of Christ?

What changes does transfiguration call for from us? As a result of seeing Christ in a new light, and seeing others in the light of Christ, how are we to live, differently from before?

What the disciples did after they saw Jesus transfigured, what Elisha did after he saw the chariots of fire, what the elders of the people did after Moses returned from the mountain, was to follow – to live differently, in light of what they had seen.

And to bring the news to the people.

Everybody everywhere must hear of this change of being.

What they saw made everything new.

We have got to tell people about it. And we have got to live differently because of it.

Jesus calls us into a new way of being. He calls us to be transfigured, transformed.

He calls us to change our lives.

How does he call us?



  • Jesus calls us to repent and believe in the good news.
  • Jesus invites us to take up the cross.
  • Jesus calls us to true worship.
  • Jesus is lifted up for our salvation.
  • Jesus invites us to follow and serve.


Jesus calls us to the pilgrim way of Lent, the journey up to Jerusalem, to the Cross, and beyond, to Glory - glory glimpsed on the mountain, one day to be revealed in all our lives.

So – let us give up gloom for Lent. Let’s let the light shine in – to our lives, our church. And let’s let the light shine out – from our lives, our church – to the world God loves.

May we bring the light of Christ – the light of the knowledge of the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ – to our world. May it illumine us, and shine from our faces, not that we may be glorified, but that we might see more clearly, love more dearly, follow more nearly, the Lord that is revealed in the face of the people he loves, the world he made.

May we bring the light of Christ to the world; that his glory may be revealed.

Come, Lord of light, transfigure us, increase our vision and reveal to us your glory.

Lord, touch us and transfigure us…. in the name of God, source of all being, eternal Word, and Holy Spirit.

THE PEACE
Let the Lord touch you and transform you.
Let the Lord surround you with peace.
May the peace of the Lord be always with you.

THE BLESSING
May the Lord open your eyes to his presence,
surround you with his love,
fill your days with his glory,
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

Prayer, Peace, and Blessing from David Adam, Traces of Glory (SPCK, 1999).

  • Themes from Bread for the World: Lenten Prayers for Hungry People (http://www.bread.org/).

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