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Sunday, February 10, 2013
Today’s Reading | Luke 9:28–36
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. (NRSV)
In scripture, mountains have symbolic meaning. Mountains connote holy space, threshold space—what scholars would call liminal, or on the edge, and this is a place where amazing things can happen. Of course it is on the mountain that Moses receives the law from God. It is on a mountain that the prophet Elijah encounters God, not in the power of earthquake, wind, or fire, but in silence, in the “still, small voice” of God. And here on this Mount of Transfiguration we encounter what Frederick Buechner says “is as strange a scene as there is in the Gospels.”
We are going together today to a strange place. Jesus brings the inner circle of the inner circle, Peter, James, and John, up onto the mountain, where they have this mysterious experience, or vision, of Jesus being transfigured, being changed in some sense. It is the same root word in Greek for the word metamorphosis. And then this vision expands as the figures of Elijah and Moses, representing the prophets and the law, are seen to be present with Jesus, as if those representatives of the Old Covenant are bringing continuity to the One who embodies the New Covenant, the new relationship with God.
Loving God, open me to the possibilities of living in your presence and being transformed, that I might more fully realize your vision of a world rooted in love. Amen.
Written by Calum I. MacLeod, Executive Associate Pastor and Head of Staff
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