As I begin today I want to ask a question; I wonder if anyone noticed anything different about today’s gospel, something that stuck out from the past few weeks’ gospel readings�
For the past several months–since Advent (November) in fact, our gospel lessons have come from the Gospel of Mark, with the exception of special days like Palm Sunday–Today’s gospel reading is another exception and today is another special day–our reading is not from the sequence of Mark’s gospel, instead it’s a reading from Luke�s gospel and describes an event in Jesus� life that has come to be known as The Transfiguration.
Transfiguration is a fancy word, and it describes an amazing event, it means that Jesus’ appearance, his figure, his body was changed, and that the disciples saw him in his true glory…
He was changed before their very eyes…
They had a true “mountain top moment” and they didn’t know quite how to handle it.
One of my favorite preachers, Fred Craddock, tells a story about another “mountain top moment” about a young minister, just out of seminary, serving his very first church. He gets a call telling him that a church member, an elderly woman who has given much of her life to the church, is in the hospital. She�s so weak she can�t even get up out of bed, and the doctors don�t hold much hope for recovery. Would he go and visit? Well, of course he will and he does.
All the way to the hospital he’s thinking about what he will say to this Christian lady, what words of comfort he can give her to prepare her for her eminent death. He arrives at the hospital, goes up to her room for the visit. He sits and talks with her a few minutes, just small talk really, nothing earth shattering. When he gets ready to leave, he asks if she would like him to pray with her. “Yes, of course,” She answers, That’s why I wanted you to come. So he asks her, “And what exactly would you like me to pray for?” “Why, I want you to pray that God will heal me,” she answers in a surprised tone of voice.
Haltingly, fumbling over the words, he prays just as she wanted, that God will heal her, even though he�s not really sure that can happen. When he says the “Amen” at the end of the prayer, the woman says, “You know, I think it worked! I think I�m healed!” And she gets out of the bed and begins to run up and down the hallway of the hospital, shouting, “Praise God! I’m healed! Praise God! I’m healed!”
Meanwhile, the young minister, in a stupor, stumbles to the stairwell, walks down five flights of stairs, makes his way to the parking lot and somehow manages to find his car. As he fumbles to get his keys out of his pocket, he looks heavenward and says, “Don’t you ever do that to me again!”
He had a mountaintop moment, but he didn�t know what to do with it!
That happens in life, amazing things just happen without warning or explanation and we�re caught off guard and unsure what to do with them.
That�s what happened to the Disciples on the mountain� they were scared, frightened; in fact Luke tells us they told no one in those days about anything they had seen.
Jesus was transformed, changed, transfigured right in front of them
They saw him talking with Moses and Elijah and surrounded with glory…
Luke tells us that Jesus was talking about his departure, in Greek the word that’s used there is the same one used to refer to another major biblical event you might have heard of–it means exodus…
Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah about his “exodus” which he was to “accomplish” at Jerusalem.
It’s clear that Luke wants us to make a connection, to understand something…
He wants us to make the connection between what happened to the Hebrews in their exodus from Egypt and the work Jesus was to accomplish in Jerusalem, the work from which you and I can now benefit so much
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Continue reading The Feast of the Transfiguration, August 6, 2006, Trinity Church Winchester