…it can only mean one thing: our gospel reading is the story of the Transfiguration. When I hear the word “transfiguration these days, Professor McGonagallimage 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.b0c9e-transfiguration3

 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.)37c80-transfiguration2bmosaic

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!

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12 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary ~ If it’s last Epiphany…

  1. Definitely on Transfiguration this Sunday, but not sure where it’s taking me. I can’t preach on it without acknowledging the potentially problematic racial issues of Jesus being portrayed as dazzling white – especially on this first Sunday of Black History Month, which was the topic of my African-American co-pastor’s sermon last week. How does Transfiguration Sunday bring good news into the midst of our world, in the current cultural and racial climate? How does Jesus’ divinity help us with our humanity?

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  2. I’m drawn to the end of the second reading, but I can’t figure out how to deal with the first part. How do we talk about Moses, the veil, and the Israelites while acknowledging God’s covenant reality with them? There is a slightly supercessionist bent to the text that I cannot seem to get past. Anyone else?

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    1. More than “slightly” supercessionist, I think. I was debating doing something with the kids with colored glasses, how things look different if we have on sunglasses or look through various colors at the world. On the mountaintop, the disciples saw Jesus clearly – like for the first time, they took off their glasses. This maybe puts all of us in the place of the Israelites and Moses, unless we’re seeing as clearly as P, J & J did at the transfiguration.

      Not sure if it will work (and not sure if I can find colored glasses!) but that’s my current interpretation of the passage.

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    2. Not much help, I thought about including the Corinthians reading, just for the first sentence. but decided I wouldn’t have it read when I am mainly working with the Gospel reading.
      you could always change the reading, and just include the second half of the reading.

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  3. I think I’m including the optional verses at the end of the Gospel passage, where Jesus heals the boy with seizures. Trying to think through how that episode, which occurs “the next day,” contrasts and/or continues what happened up on the mountain. I’ve done lots of reading with lots of pondering still to come. I would also love to get a good start on next week’s sermon, as next week is already over-full. We shall see how successful I am with that.

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  4. definitely the gospel and transfiguration. not sure, but liking David Lose’s take on this reading:
    “Worship can be the place where we hear God’s voice, focus on the nature of grace as we experience it in the cross, meet each other in prayer and song, and leave renewed for lives of meaning and purpose that come through service to neighbour.” the few commentators i have read all link the two parts of the reading together.

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  5. I’m doing transfiguration and using three readings – Exodus 34, Luke 9, and 2 Cor 3 – as a progression to show God’s glory in Moses, in Jesus, and in us. Basically talking about sanctification and how we grow more and more in our understanding and actions to be more like who we are. Last week Carolyn Brown’s blog compared Jeremiah’s call to Harry Potter getting his first letter from Hogwarts. Carrying that into this week: He found out he was a magician, but then had to go to Hogwarts to learn how to be who he was.

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