Bible Readings: Exodus 34: 29-35 & Luke 9: 28-41
Last week we were given a glimpse of Transfiguration Sunday and the Lukan Reading – when we looked into the unfathomable, indescribable, uncontainable heavens that God has and is creating. Likewise I feel sure that the words of Luke’s gospel fall short in describing the earthly Jesus’ transfiguration into the heavenly Christ.
However, as we said in the Kids’ Time – there is a continuous and unbroken line between the micro and the macro – between looking down and looking out.
Some 9 or so years ago I did a desert ‘Spirit’ journey into Mungatirri, better known as the Simpson Desert, with 17 other pilgrims.
We spend over a week in the desert country – between the sand-dunes – learning about creation, Aboriginal culture, the impact of white culture upon the land but mostly we were learning about ourselves and God’s spirit in us.
At that particular junction in my faith, I was struggling to see the micro God – Jesus amongst us as friend and confidante. God seemed so big and almost unapproachable.
I thought the answers to my dilemma might be found sitting on a sand-dune in meditation and prayer.
I took a lot of photos. First my camera was aimed at the sky, the stars and the far off dunes, but after some days my lens began to swing down – to individual flowers, birds, tracks across the sand, patterns in the sun-bleached wood on the ground and finally onto my fellow pilgrims.
Within the cosmos we existed with each other – in fact we relied on each other – as different as we all were, our very survival was in each other’s hands – and there was Jesus in us; giving us the tools to survive, creating a community – mostly harmonious, but with a single goal extracting the best that each person had to give – for the benefit of the others.
The wide angle was indeed integral to the camera and its operator but the zoom simply gave a new perspective on the same picture.
And so it is with our two readings from this week’s lectionary – set down for today – Transfiguration Sunday. The wide angle view that leads us forward to the zoom lens that is Ash Wednesday, Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday and Good Friday – a time to reflect on the cosmic Christ who was also the fully human Jesus.
In Luke’s gospel reading we are shown Jesus in all his kingly glory and the inability of Peter and John and James to comprehend, not only what to say but what to do. Their meagre attempt to compare Elijah and Moses to Jesus obviously incensed God enough to remind them that this is his son [as he did at Jesus’ baptism]. This time God took it one step further and instead of saying ‘in whom I am well pleased’, he said ‘Listen to him’.
I wonder if we concentrated on the words spoken, not so much by Elijah, Moses and others, but by Jesus [sometimes written in red] whether we too would have our own transformation or transfiguration even – whether we would not only change shape or substance ‘transfiguration’ but change physical, spiritual and mindful direction also. There’s a task for those in Bible studies.
This God we worship does not, however, stay up on the mountain, anymore than Moses can stay up the mountain – away from his people.
For the next verses speak of Jesus coming down to earth [the plain], working with and beside humanity – healing people, curing their illnesses, chiding them in their unbelief and reprimanding them when they can only see and work in the natural and not the supernatural part of their faith.
We are called to reflect and act in the soon to begin Lenten journey. As we heal and make others whole and expand our faith boundaries and educate others along the way – it’s what Jesus calls us to, and it is what characters such as Moses did in their ministry.
Interestingly Moses has his own little transfiguration in the Old Testament reading – his face glowed – with some of God’s ‘reflected’ or is it ‘refracted’ light came forth – while Moses was in God’s presence.
I’ve seen some of the transfiguration that can happen to people in services of commission, baptism and confirmation when they know that God is present. I see it sometimes when people close their eyes, raise hands, cry out or even speak in heavenly languages in worship. I see it sometimes in the glow on people’s faces when they are doing God’s work and they know they are being led in the Spirit in what they say and do.
It begins with looking up and beyond but finishes with working among and between and with.
A link forged between Heaven and earth is not an easy one to break – but one must feed the other.
Jesus stands between Heaven and earth as our mediator – as we know his cross spans the east and west – extending around the world – the cross base is planted in the earth while is head is rooted in the sky.
God translates his message to us through his son while our faith transforms our relationship with others and our love transfigures both what is seen and unseen – in heaven and on earth.