Sermon – 03-03-19 – Transfiguration Sunday – Cycle C
Scriptures: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2; Luke 9:28-43a
Sermon Title: “What’s the Glow About?”
Jesus is not the only one who glowed. Moses glowed when he met with God when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Moses put a veil over his face so that the Israelites would not be afraid. This glow of Moses did not come from within Moses but was the reflection of God’s glow. This happened in the 1400s Before Christ.
Fast forward, to approximately year 33 in the time of the Lord, when Jesus invites Peter and the brothers, James and John, to accompany him to this momentous event on a mountain. There is a bit of uncertainty about which mountain it is. Jesus’ glow is more than reflection. It is God’s glow. Remember that Jesus, the Son, is one of the three persons of God. So the glow comes from within Jesus, revealed at that particular time and place.
We could get very technical about the idea of three persons together being God. Theologians have spent countless hours speaking, discussing, and writing about this mystery. Not being natured for such depth, my own perception of this Triune God became part of me as a child. I did not find myself thinking, “How can this be?” No, it seemed so natural. It still seems natural to me. The image of a shamrock works for me. Father, Son, Holy Spirit – each a heart-shaped part of the total leaf. If one part is missing, it is not God.
Some people like the image of H2O to explain the Trinity. H2O can be H2O in three forms: solid, liquid, gas. There is a problem with this image. The same H2O can only be in one form at a time. So following that analogy, we could only have one of the three persons of God with us at a time. If we say that Jesus is with us, that would exclude the Holy Spirit and the Father.
We don’t need to cheat ourselves. We can be supported and guided and nurtured and forgiven and healed at the same time. We can even glow. We kid about glowing from nuclear energy, but this glowing is a sacred happening. It is the glory of God. Ordinary people have been observed to be glowing. Well, maybe not just any ordinary people. Better to say, people of God. Ordinary people who have been drawn into relationship with God. People who are energized by this relationship.
Is there a benefit from this glowing? Yes, it is a witness. It reaches the senses of people who see it happening. It reminds the witnesses that God is alive and active – surely not dead, God surely exists! Think this particular mountaintop where Jesus invites Peter, James, and John. There is no doubt afterward in the hearts and minds of these three disciples. Not only is there this strongly defined voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, my Chosen. Listen to him!”
There is more. Necessary to this account are the two figures from history appearing with Jesus – Elijah and Moses. This is a complete picture of the past with the present. The history of the Israelites is not separate. This is not two stories: one before Christ and one from Christ forward. This is an on-going movement – God’s movement. The people of the world may jump into this movement or they can reject this movement. We can use the ability God has planted in us or we can leave it wither and die within us.
I am thinking that is why we have this strange happening when Jesus and the three disciples descend the mountain. A father brings his son to the disciples – not necessarily Peter, James and John – and asks them to heal his son of a spirit which controls the son. It does not work when the disciples try. When Jesus comes along and asks about the commotion, he addresses the spirit and the spirit leaves the boy. Almost with the same breath, Jesus rebukes his disciples for their lack of success. The disciples and we are responsible to keep the movement going forward until we get the signal to stop.
We shall grab whatever talent we are given and use it. If we fail, we shall try again and again and again until we succeed. I have been hearing counseling announcements on the radio encouraging people to overcome addictions. For example, smoking. The message is to try and try and try, failure after failure, after failure until finally the addiction is overcome.
If we think our prayers have no power, keep praying. Be faithful in praying. Make it a habit. Keep asking God for favors. Ask God to heal our friend. Ask God to have money appear just in time for the deadline for the electric bill, for the rent payment after we have been diligent in the use of our money. Ask God to control our temper. Ask God to give us the energy and motivation to help our neighbor whose body can no longer do necessary tasks. Ask God to let only kind words burst from our lips. Watch! After months, we realize that our prayers have made a difference. We are changed or a person, who was not expected to live, revives.
If we want to be considered one of God’s faithful flock, we need to do our part to keep the movement moving. Keep watching! Keep doing! Someone may come to you and say, “Do you know that you have a glow about you?”
This very Peter, who sees the dazzling Jesus and hears the voice from the cloud, later writes the two epistles (letters), in the New Testament. In 2 Peter, chapter 1, Peter writes, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.”
Peter continues, “So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
Paul also speaks to us about the Holy Spirit’s transforming power in ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul says, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Let you and me dedicate ourselves to welcoming this transformation in our souls by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amen