Sermon for February 27, 2022 Transfiguration “Awesome”
It is true that there are some things that you just cannot un-see. Once seen and witnessed they are indelibly etched in your brain and memory.
The transfiguration for Peter, John and James was one of those moments. After they recovered from that awesome moment, they were able to speak of the events, I expect in ways that even words could not capture.
Jesus, Peter, James and John went up a mountain to pray, while praying ‘the appearance of Jesus face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus. They appeared in glory and spoke of his departure’. There they stood, this image blazed in their mind, mouth agape and unable to do anything but stare. As if that were not awesome enough a voice, not any voice but the voice of YHWH, of God saying ‘this is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him’. For some time, these disciples where awed to silence but not forever.
This event combined with all the other events in the life of Jesus leave us with no doubt that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, Immanuel and Saviour. For Luke this text come fairly early in the ministry of Jesus. He has healed, taught, cast out demons and has just fed the five thousand and predicted his suffering and death by the leaders. This is affirmation that all the work to date has been essential and now Jesus knows the full scope of his purpose. It also provides the energy and drive for the next years of his ministry and keeps front and centre the urgency of the teachings.
Perhaps that is why the teachings are filled with saying such as; if you have ears to hear the hear, or do you still not understand. The disciples may think there is all kinds of time but Jesus knows all too well that time is limited.
What comes next is our response to that truth.
In this brief encounter we learn three essential practices to being a follower of Jesus. Pray, reflect, act…repeat.
Oh, I can do that, no worries. These practices may be a part of your daily routine or they may be ‘as needed’ or anywhere in between. Jesus is not asking us to be perfect, he is calling us to follow these practices. To integrate them into our daily lives so that intentional connection with God and Jesus informs our thoughts and actions.
We may wonder if this sitting/walking/standing in prayer and meditation is actually doing anything. I expect Peter, James and John did not expect to be praying when Jesus took them to the top of the hill. I also do not expect they thought they would witness the event of the transfiguration. But that is the nature of being a follower of Jesus, you just never know what to expect. You just never know the gentle and persuasive power of your prayer. We all called to get past our 20/21st century notion that sitting still is doing nothing and re-introduce ourselves to the truth that prayer is something and does so much more that we can imagine.
One of the hurtles to cross is that like Peter, James and John we keep quiet because we imagine all sorts of reactions. On the way down the mountain I can hear the whispers; let’s just keep this to ourselves for now, let’s not give more to the notion that we really are a bit nuts. And they did not say anything.
We encounter Jesus in many ways: in our children, in nature, in our parents, in quiet moments, in times when all around us rages…and we keep silent.
We are in transformative times, our community and world is ready to hear, in the midst of the roar of competing voices, a voice that has the capacity to transfigure. And we, the witness of the awesome Jesus remains silent.
Our well-worn default is; I do not know what to say. Very much akin to Isaiah saying ‘I do not have the words’. For Isaiah an angel touched his lips with hot coal and the words came to him. Transfiguration is the hot coals for our lips and lives that push us from silence and secrecy to giving voice to truth that can transform the world. The only voices we are hearing is from the ‘honk, honk, me, me convoy, the attitude of ‘what’s all the fuss about black lives and indigenous lives’, invasion of the Ukraine and into the very midst of that, we are given the still small voice that when rooted in the love of Jesus will be heard in every ear and heart.
Into our days, we can no longer remain silent.