Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
Today we study what is traditionally called “the transfiguration.” This is the culmination of the season of epiphany and it is called transfiguration because Jesus’ appearance changes radically and completely. He becomes dazzling white and historical figures join him. It is no coincidence that this is the same Sunday that we study how Moses, by being in God’s presence, lights up and shines. Moses is changed radically and completely which we see by the shine on his face.
No wonder the disciples are dazzled. No wonder Moses’ people are surprised and listen up. No wonder none of them knew what to say or what to do. Peter wants to build something to mark the transformation. He is changed radically and completely as well. He wants to stay on the mountain where God resides.
When God shows up in all of God’s glory we are transformed completely and radically. We are not the same and our shine is different. There are people in our midst walking around with a shiny face because they have encountered God and it has turned their world upside down. It would not be a bad thing to dream and vision about transforming people and also being transformed. What if we dreamed about seeing transformation representing God’s glory all around us? We can learn from those of us in our midst that have had these kinds of experiences.
Just like the disciples, while reading these stories, we realize it’s not just Jesus who is transfigured but time itself, all events that have happened and will happen, when transformation begins in us. The kingdom will come in unique and different ways. Luke places this story right after Jesus asks the disciples to pray. Within prayer, in the middle of the gospel story, God reveals that Jesus will free all of us through transformation in a non warrior type of way. And when we open ourselves up to that kind of experience, only then can we dream to be different and shiny.
In the end, Moses and Jesus and his crew have to come back down the mountain to share the experience. When we come down, transformed, only then can we vision towards leading transformation.
Quotes for the Week
“Jesus showed us all that the very things we often flee -our vulnerability and mortality – can, at any moment, become the place of holy transfiguration, for us and for our world.” – Henri Nouwen
“Where woundedness can be refined into beauty a wonderful transfiguration takes place.” ― John O’Donohue
“Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it.” – Marianne Williamson
“I haven’t the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out.” ― David Sedaris
“There’s a crack (or cracks) in everyone…that’s how the light of God gets in.” –Elizabeth Gilbert
Exodus 34:29-35 (NRSV)
Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterwards all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with God.
Luke 9:28-36 (NRSV)
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake,they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
Questions for the Week
Have you experienced powerful transformation in your life? If so, when?
How might the church open up ways of transformation and recognition of God’s glory?
How can you let go of the booths and come back down the mountain to share?