Believe it or not, we have reached the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. Lent will begin this week! Whether you are using the Revised Common Lectionary or Narrative, this week’s texts describe the Transfiguration. What message will your people hear before beginning the journey to the cross on Wednesday?
RCL preachers: what do you do with Luke’s vision of Jesus with Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop? Peter and James and John are scared into silence. And then they head down the mountain and meet a great crowd of people, where Jesus casts out a demon. There is so much going on in this Gospel passage, but much of it is difficult to translate into the lived experiences of 21st-century Christians. How are you bringing the good news to your people through this text?
The other RCL readings describe Moses’ shining skin and his need for a veil. This could be connected to the Transfiguration story, or preached on its own. Paul interprets Moses’ need for a veil as hiding his weakness from the people, which is certainly not how it is portrayed in Exodus. Where do you go with that? And the Psalm for today praises God’s greatness, and could easily be the basis for a sermon all on its own. You can find discussion from earlier this week on the RCL passages here.
The Narrative Lectionary pairs the Transfiguration in Mark with the confession of Peter. In the course of 5 verses, Peter goes from declaring Jesus to be the Messiah, to Jesus accusing him of being Satan. There are many interpretive paths that a preacher could explore… our faithful confessions on Sunday mornings without the follow-up of a faithful lifestyle… even the best leaders are flawed and make mistakes… Jesus expects his followers to lose their life for his sake… recognizing the glory of God whether it comes through a traveling companion or a voice from heaven. This page includes some additional ideas and reflections.
In the U.S.A. this is the first Sunday in Black History Month. I’m finding it difficult to write a sermon for this Sunday in which Jesus appearing in glory with clothes of dazzling white doesn’t sound like a glorification of whiteness, so I’m trying to weave in an acknowledgment of the potentially problematic race issues that this passage can evoke. Martin Luther King’s mountaintop may need to come into play here. What are your struggles? Where are your reflections taking you? How will your people experience the glory of God this weekend?
Wherever your writings are heading, preachers, welcome to the party! I’ve got some homemade fudge to share. Pull up a chair, help yourself, and happy writing!
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