…it can only mean one thing: our gospel reading is the story of the Transfiguration. When I hear the word “transfiguration these days, Professor McGonagall appearing as a cat outside the Dursley home in the first Harry Potter book is the image that comes to mind. As fantastic as transfiguration is in the wizarding world, it may be easier for us to imagine that what happened on the mountaintop with Jesus.
Readings for the week can be found here. This year we get Luke’s version; eight days after Peter proclaims that he “gets” who Jesus is, he ascends to the mountaintop with Jesus, James, and John, where he and his compatriots are “weighed down with sleep” while Jesus meets Moses and Elijah. When the three amigos awake, they see a transformed Jesus, alight with the glory of God and in the presence of the prophets, and Peter immediately suggests erecting dwellings for the three. But after God speaks, instructing the disciples to listen to Jesus, Peter, James, and John descend from the mountain and tell no one what they’ve seen.
One commentator refers to the Transfiguration Sunday as a “major Christological festival” For Peter, James, and John the transfiguration should have served as a clear and definitive sign of Jesus’ true identity – God’s son, the Messiah, the Chosen One. Yet after descending from the mountaintop, rather than than loudly proclaiming this to the crowds, or even sharing it with the other disicples, they tell no one what they’ve seen,
One thing I’ve been pondering is what marks a major “Christological event” in our own lives? When and how do we recognize Jesus for who he was and is? How are we changed by our encounters with him? Are we ever overly transfigured, marked by our encounters with the holy in such a way that it is obvious to others? (Thinking here, too, 0f Moses’ shining face after his time with God on the mountain in our Hebrew scripture reading.)
Another preaching tack I’ve used for this Sunday is to talk about why we hear about the transfiguration every year this time. Could it be that seeing Jesus in his full glory, hearing God’s words confirming his, identiy, being instructed to listen to him is just what we need to bolster us as we move into the long, dark days of Lent, and the unremitting journey to Jerusalem and the cross?
If the whole notion of transfiguration is more than you can deal with this year, the lectionary gives us the option to include the healing story that follows. Jesus’ disciples had been asked to heal the boy, but had failed. Jesus seems to show his very human nature as he expresses some frustration; nonetheless he casts out the demon to the astonishment of the crowd. What, if any, is the relationship between Jesus’s experience on the mountain and this healing? Mountaintop experiences, as wonderful and transformative as they can be, are fleeting, and the needs of the world soon press upon us once more. How might we connect the two?
Rich readings this week – where are they calling you? Are you setting the stage for Lent? Or winding up the Epiphany season some other way? Bring your questions, your ponderings, and your inspiration, and join the discussion!
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.