07 February 2016
As Epiphany draws to a close the Scriptures turn, as usual, to the Transfiguration of Jesus. There are so many ways to approach this mysterious and wondrous narrative, but I would like to focus on the power of the transfiguration to give Jesus the hope and courage to face the cross, and to draw us into our own personal and communal transfiguration as we seek to follow Jesus. True transformation is never easy, but the alternatives – quick fixes and easy answers – are ultimately even more painful and damaging.
May you discover a new vision of Christ as you worship this week.
Exodus 34:29-35: After bringing the tablets of the law down the mountain, Moses’ face shines. And every time after speaking with God in the Tent of Meeting, he addresses the people with a shining face, after which he covers his face with a veil.
Psalm 99: A psalm of praise for God’s holiness and glory, for God’s love of justice, and for God’s guidance and discipline of God’s people.
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2: In Christ, believer’s hearts are unveiled to receive the truth, and we are able to reflect God’s glory, being changed to be more and more like Christ.
Luke 9:28-36 (37-43): Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain where his face is transfigured, his clothes shine white, and the disciples, who had fallen asleep, wake up to find Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah.
REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
There are two main facets to the Scriptures this week. The most obvious one is that of Jesus’ own transfiguration, which reveals his glory as Messiah, but which also points to the cross – the ultimate glory of Christ. The truth of what the Messianic age means – the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, and the establishment of God’s reign among people – is reflected and proclaimed here. The second facet is the transformation of those who encounter God – Moses, Jesus, and then those who believe in Christ. The week then, is a celebration of Christ’s transfiguration, but also of ours. And like Christ, our true transformation comes by embracing the way of the cross.
CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
There are many voices in western culture that promise quick and easy transformation. Yet as our systems strain under increasing complexity, the transformation we need will require a slow, thorough and sacrificial process. For this we need a hope adequate to the task. In the transfiguration we have this hope – the hope of a clear vision of God; glorious, but also present and accessible. We also have the hope of the glory to which God calls us, and which, by God’s Spirit we can achieve. With this hope in our hearts, the challenges of poverty & economic breakdown, of climate change and creation care, of conflict and disease, can be embraced with courage, and with a commitment to the hard, systemic changes that must be made. Our hope is neither an escape from the tough realities of our world, nor a shortcut to fix the world. It is a motivation to embrace the suffering, persecution, confrontation and sacrifice that always accompany any work of transformation in the world. It is an attractive vision of how the world could be which draws us to participate in the difficult work of change. It is a sustaining vision that strengthens us through the worst times, and a cause for celebration when we begin to see glimpses of our hope being fulfilled. Like the transfiguration for Jesus, and the glorious encounters of Moses with God, the hope of the Gospel empowers us to face what lies before us for the sake of the Reign of God.
In every life and in every community we face challenges and struggles that threaten to overwhelm us. Sometimes our response is that of the disciples – to fall asleep, or to check out of life in order to avoid the pain. But the transfiguration offers an alternative in a twofold call. Firstly, we are invited to encounter God anew, and be filled with hope and courage as we meditate on the glory of the incarnate Christ. Secondly, we are invited to open ourselves to our own transfiguration – to be transformed and to begin to reflect God’s glory ourselves. Of course, as with Christ, embracing God’s glory is also embracing the cross – the suffering of staying awake, and meeting our challenges head on. As we encounter the transfigured Christ again this week, may we refuse the false comfort of quick fixes, and set our minds toward the tough journey of real transformation – in our relationships, our finances, our health, our community’s upliftment, and the trajectories of our nation and our world.
RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
The One We Worship
O Jesus I Have Promised
Christ Is Made The Sure Foundation
I Know Whom I Have Believed
Lord, Reign In Me (Link to YouTube video)
We Bow Down Before You
Above All (Link to YouTube video)
How Great Is Our God (Link to YouTube video)
A Liturgy for the Sacrament