The Transfiguration of Our Lord; Year B (2/15/2015)

Lessons:2 Kings 2:1-12 Psalm 50:1-6 2nd Corinthians 4:3-6 St. Mark 9:2-9

Prayer of the Day: Almighty God, the resplendent light of your truth shines from the mountaintop into our hearts. Transfigure us by your beloved Son, and illumine the world with your image, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

9.2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

St. Mark 9:2-9 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

The Old and the New

I was born in 1957, and in some ways I am very nostalgic about the 1950s. I imagine it to have been a simpler time than today. Some things took more effort, of course: push mowers, coal furnaces and hand-washed dishes come to mind. But without the internet in your pocket, only three channels on television (a couple more if you were able to get VHF and UHF signals), and news broadcasts only twice a day, there was a lot more time left over to take a bike ride, explore the ravine down the street or play a round of golf.

I’d still love to own a ’57 Chevy some day (although my godfather’s ’56 Ford Galaxy was a pretty sweet ride…), but I’m also aware that the past can never be preserved, and the faithful person is the one who learns to live most fully in the present.

Peter must have felt something similar on the day when Jesus was transfigured on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. It was an extraordinary experience for Peter (and for Andrew, James and John). Moses and Elijah are two of the most important characters in the entire Hebrew Bible. These four fishermen had no doubt been hearing stories about them all their lives. And now, to see their lord and teacher standing on the mountain with these two, transfigured in a way that was mind boggling — well, within seconds Peter was already feeling nostalgic. Let’s never forget this. Let’s build three monuments. Let’s mark this spot so we can come back and remember what took place.

No sooner had the words left Peter’s mouth, than the voice of God thunders out, commanding Peter to listen to Jesus. What does Jesus do next? He leads them down the side of the mountain, into the crowds of people waiting for them there, and immediately begins teaching and preaching and healing again.

This mountaintop experience becomes, for Peter, a testimony to who Jesus truly is, and an inspiration to follow him in the present and in the future. Peter won’t build those monuments, of course. But his past experiences with Jesus will become the foundation of a life that bears witness to the power and presence of God he has come to know.

So too with us. Rather than reflect, nostalgically, about our past experiences, we allow those experiences to inspire us, and to call us into an even deeper faithfulness today and tomorrow.

As this Epiphany season draws to a close, and we make ourselves ready to journey with Jesus through Lent, to the cross and the resurrection, we do well consider what faithfulness God is calling us to embrace.

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Why was Peter’s first instinct to memorialize this experience he had with Jesus?
  2. Why did God so pointedly rebuke Peter?
  3. What signs will we see in Peter’s life that this event changed him for the better?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. How has God touched my life in the past?
  2. What present faithfulness has God been strengthening me to experience?
  3. What do I sense God calling me to be and to do in the future?