I. Theme – How we can be empowered by our relationship with God?
“ The Transfiguration ” – Fra Angelico (1440-1442)
“About eight days after Peter had acknowledged Jesus as the Christ of God, 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.” –Luke 9:28:29
The lectionary readings are here or individually:
Old Testament – Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm – Psalm 99
Epistle – 2 Peter 1:13-21
Gospel – Luke 9:28-36
Today’s readings help us see how we can be empowered by our relationship to God. The Gospels speak about experiences with God and Jesus. In Exodus, we witness the physical transformation of Moses after spending time in God’s presence. In the gospel, Jesus is transformed, his glory revealed and his mission affirmed by a voice from heaven. Ultimately the disciples will need transformation also.
The season after the Epiphany concludes with one of the most powerful epiphanies of all – the Transfiguration. This story comes at the center of Luke’s story, between Jesus’ baptism and his resurrection.
Luke’s account of the transfiguration points back to Old Testament parallels and forward to Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. As is such it brings in a new dimension of Jesus and a new relationship that the disciples would have with him. Their experience so far has been of Jesus the teacher, the healer, the miracle-worker. Now they are seeing a new vision of Jesus, a new understanding of him as the Christ – as one who would venture to Jerusalem , be killed but then resurrected .
They are still not on board. Peter, however, still wants to avoid the difficulty of the journey to Jerusalem and its ultimate consequences. The mission of Jesus is not about worshipping at shrines or even the practice of religion. The mission of Jesus is about death and resurrection.
The disciples found the journey in the beginning was easier—they left everything to follow him, and to follow meant to learn his teachings and to live his ways. But now the journey will become much harder
Even faithful Christians wonder if God is absent at times, or busy somewhere else. Massive evil, brutal violence and rampant greed seem to smother any slight glimmers of spirituality. Luke’s audience may have had similar concerns, so he stresses for them the necessity of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and eventual passion there. The transfiguration offers the disciples an experience of hope and confidence that will sustain them while they wait for Jesus to return.
As Christ laid down his life for us, so we are called to give of our life to him, to give up being first, to give up our wants and desires to serve others. And like Christ, we will be called to give all for the sake of God’s love of the world. How do we live this transfiguration in our lives? How do we share what our faith means to us? It is more than a conversation that can be controversial. This is our very lives. Do we let it shine, or do we hold it back? Do we still misunderstand? How will you live out your faith differently this Lenten season?