Sparkling in Glory or Battling Evil: Jesus is There

Transfiguration of Our Lord (C)      February 10, 2013

Gospel:  Luke 9:28-36, 37-43

There`s a big contrast in today’s Gospel—a feast for poets and seekers.  Today with Jesus, right in the middle of the Gospel, we turn from the dazzling glory of God, that sustained us through Christmas and Epiphany, towards Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy Week, quieter Kyrie times when we pray Lord, have mercy and ponder the cross of Christ.

Today starts out with Jesus and Peter, James and John up on a mountaintop.  Moses and Elijah, “messengers of old”[1], are there, too, speaking of Jesus’ death.  Meanwhile, Jesus himself is sparkling, transfigured, filled with light.  And then all of a sudden a voice comes out of the clouds, the voice of God, saying: This is my Son, my chosen, LISTEN to him.

Well, that sparkly part is only half of one whole story.  On the NEXT day, so the story goes, everything changes.  Jesus and the disciples go down the mountain and arrive in the valley.  The glory fades; Jesus knows he’s going to die.  And so likely he has some urgency about getting on with his mission.  And some very deep love for his companions.

As for the disciples, they’ve seen the light, yet curiously, they’re still in the dark.  Clueless.   Maybe they’re anxiously pondering:  Now what?  Maybe they’re in a hurry to pin things down to what’s comfortable and known just like they were up on the mountain top.

But right away they meet up with a noisy, needy crowd of people, including a father begging Jesus to heal his only child: a child who’s in trouble.  And Jesus demonstrates his power over evil.  He does what the father asks, what the child needs.  He heals the child.

Up on the mountain and down in the valley.    Sparkling in glory or battling evil.  Jesus is there.

Once in a while we, too, might think we see the glory of God and want to hold on at least a little bit longer if not forever.  And then before we know it, here we are back in the valley in the middle of taxes and interest rates and snow storms.  Mouths to feed.  Feet to wash.  Broken hearts to comfort.

Last week, someone gave me a letter to the editor from a recent issue of MacLeans Magazine.  Listen to this pretty good description of life in the valley in 2013.  This is from Mike Ward of Duncan BC.

“Today’s students (the letter says) will not be growing up on the same planet their parents did.  Gone is the overabundance of natural resources.  Our children will inherit an interconnected and depleted planet, battered by feverish weather events and beset with perilous competition for ever scarcer resources.  In such a world, virtues such as tolerance, empathy and non-violence will be as important as the three R`s, and survival itself will dictate that social justice and environmental stewardship triumph over mindless exploitation.”[2]

The writer of this letter clearly isn’t describing a mountaintop experience.  He’s describing life here on earth.  Depleted environmental resources.  Competition for what`s left.  The need for increased tolerance, empathy and non-violence.   Will our children and our children`s children and everybody else’s children have what they need to live on earth–here in the middle of the huge changes we already see coming?

We might recall what the Voice of Wisdom says on the mountaintop.  Referring to Jesus, the voice of God says:  “This is my own son, my Chosen, listen to HIM!”  And that’s at least part of the reason we gather in faith communities like this one: to listen.

To read the Bible and listen for the Word of God to us today.  To listen to the cries of our neighbours and each others’ cries and decide how to respond.  To try to separate out the voice of Jesus from all the other voices that try to trick us into seeking and conforming to a false sense of glory.

As we make our journey from now into an unknown future, with many needs calling out for our attention and important decisions to make, one of the most life-giving things we can do is listen to the voice of Jesus.

During Lent, consider turning DOWN the volume on some of the other voices competing for your attention and turning UP the volume on God’s voice:

  • Consider picking up a copy of the daily Lenten devotional Beyond Question[3] available today outside the Parish Hall.
  • Consider coming to Daily Discipleship Monday mornings to reflect on next week’s Gospel.
  • Experience “The Roundabout Journey” Saturday mornings during Lent, for those wanting to go deeper into the faith . . . maybe to be baptized or to affirm your baptism and become a member of St. Mark’s.
  • Worship on Ash Wednesday at 1 PM in the Parish Hall here at St. Mark’s (lunch is at noon) or at 7:30 at St. Matthews—a three church event with a combined choir.

In making the journey from now into an unknown f, with many needs facing us and decisions to make, one of the most hopeful, life-giving things we can do is to take our place in the world and listen to Jesus, to listen to Christ himself who is making us and everything new.  In him is the healing, empathy, non-violence and surrender the earth so desperately needs.

In him is our hope for the future.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

[1] “How Good, Lord, to be Here!”  Texyt: Joseph Robinson, Music: W. Mercer, #315 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Augsburg Fortress, 2006.

[2] MacLeans Magazine,  November 26, 2012, page 7.

[3] Book of Faith, Lenten Journey:  Beyond Question, by Eric Burtness, Augsburg Fortress, 2012.

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