Transfiguration Sunday

Preacher: 
Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Transfiguration Sunday (Last Sunday After Epiphany)

Mark 9:2-9

February 11, 2018

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

         During these past six weeks since Epiphany, we’ve been following along with Jesus as he began his ministry and as the world around him began to take notice.  We started back in January with his baptism by John and learned that like Jesus, we too rise from the waters of baptism to embrace whom God made us to be.  We witnessed as people questioned what good could come out of Nazareth and were reminded of how everyone is a child of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.  We heard how Jesus called out to averages folks, who knew the value of a hard day’s work, to follow him and become fishers of men.  We watched them lay down their nets and follow, because something about this man from Nazareth caught their attention – made them want to follow.  We’ve seen how Jesus’ ministry grew very quickly and how people came from all over in hopes of being healed and of seeing this man called Jesus.  And we were reminded of the importance of stepping back from the work of this world, quieting ourselves and spending time refilling our wells like Jesus did when he went off to pray.

      Now on the edge of Lent, we find ourselves with Jesus and three of his disciples upon a mountaintop where once again we hear the words, “This is my son, the Beloved.”  God identifying Jesus as his own – both human and divine.   In this moment the curtain is pulled back, and the disciples get a glimpse of God.  “They see, as it were, that behind and within the human flesh and blood of Jesus there is an unbearable light and glory: a radiance better than any light on earth. They see that His flesh and blood - though it is flesh and blood just like ours - is soaked through with that glory and brightness which is the work of God.”[1]  Jesus is love incarnate – God’s deep, unwavering love for us – and a light to show us the way.

      Today’s scripture of the transfiguration of Jesus conjures a variety of images in my head.  As I contemplated this scripture, I kept finding myself thinking of Star Wars or more recently, Harry Potter.  I imagined those scenes in Star Wars when Luke was on the verge of a major battle and out of the darkness appeared Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda to remind him of who he was and what he was capable of doing.  Or those moments in Harry Potter, when Harry - who was about to confront Voldemort and his evil army - was unsure of what to do or if he would survive.  Right when he needed the support the most, his parents and Sirius would appear in a hazy light and tell Harry how much they loved him and how proud they were of him.          

         The author of Mark’s Gospel might not appreciate my comparisons, but it’s what came to mind.  Here was Jesus - on the verge of his journey towards suffering and the cross – being visited by Moses and Elijah and being once again identified as God’s beloved son to whom we should listen. Were they there to reassure Jesus – to remind him of what he was capable of doing and did God’s voice give him peace?  We will never now, and this all may be an over simplification of this profound moment, but what I find important to remember is that Jesus was also human – a human who felt emotions – a human who felt physical pain. 

         As we walk forward with one another into Lent, what can we take away from this scripture – from Jesus’ transfiguration on top of this mountain?  God came down to be with us and for us through Jesus Christ.  God took on our life and our hardships that we might not simply persevere, but thrive.  God came to us so that we wouldn’t simply have life but have it abundantly.  The God who created and still sustains the vast cosmos not only knows that we exist, but God cares about us!  God cares about our ups and downs, about our hopes and disappointments, and about our dreams and despair.  God promises to be with us, to walk alongside us, to never, ever let us go, and in time to redeem us and bring us into the company of saints.[2]

         God in Jesus sees us all as worthwhile, worthy of love, dignity, and respect.  Jesus did not stay upon that mountain where it was safe.  God in Jesus came down from that mountain to be with us.  God loves us so much and never gives up on us.  As we walk with Jesus through these days of Lent towards the cross, may we all remember that we are loved, known by God, and will always be found.[3]

[1] Morning Sermon by Archbishop Rowan Williams, Canterbury Cathedral, March 2, 2003.

[2] David Lose, …in the Meantime, http://www.davidlose.net, 2018.

[3] The Reverend Carey D. Connors

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