Prayer for the Week

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Seeing Only Jesus

Transfiguration Sunday | February 23, 2020

Exodus 24:12-18 • Psalm 2 • 2 Peter 1:16-21 • Matthew 17:1-9

17 Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.

Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.

As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Matthew 17:1-9 New Living Translation (NLT)


Yesterday, we had a meeting in Buffalo. It is a monthly meeting of pastors from the Western New York District of the Wesleyan Church. It is always a wonderful time of inspiration and yesterday was no exception. On the way home, I got to thinking about today’s post and had Anna look up this week’s texts – thinking that they were some Sunday in Epiphany. Somehow she mentioned the last Sunday before Lent and I said, “Oh, it’s Transfiguration Sunday.” And so it is.

Over the last few weeks, we have been looking at the teachings of Jesus. We have been looking at Jesus as the Light of the World. What was the mission of Jesus? In these scriptures over the last few weeks, we have barely scratched the surface and now we being preparing for Lent in the Feast of the Transfiguration.

The creators of the lectionary give us two parallel readings of sorts. The Old Testament reading gives us the account of Moses going up Mt. Sinai to meet with God. The mountain is covered by a cloud indicating the glory of God.

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to a mountain. Jesus face and appearance is transformed – as bright as the sun. Pam and I have been reading a devotional Finding Your Way by Jane Rubieta. It is a devotional that focuses on Adam through Noah. In one of her daily devotionals in the book she talks about Adam and Eve being blinded by the glory of God. She suggests that when Adam and Eve partake of the forbidden fruit – the eyes being opened meant that suddenly their eyes were not blinded by the glory of God and they noticed their sinfulness and their nakedness. Perhaps before the fall, Adam and Eve were surrounded by the glory of God and didn’t even know it.

Moses remained on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights – interestingly enough, this 40 days is the same amount of days that it rained during the flood and the number of days that Jesus spent in the wilderness.

Peter, James, and John see Jesus transformed – into what way we don’t really know, but it was quite powerful. Peter immediately suggests that they should set up some memorials.

As soon as Peter speaks, the cloud of God descends on the mountain – much like the glory of God on Mount Sinai. Out of the cloud, the voice of God speaks, “This is my dearly loved son. Listen to Him!” Immediately the disciple fall prostrate on the ground and worship – probably out of fear. Jesus comes over and says, “Get up. Don’t be afraid.” I can’t even imagine what an experience that must have been. Immediately the image of the law and prophets disappear – perhaps again meaning that Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets. The disciples see only Jesus.

As I think about this…The disciples saw only Jesus – not the law – not the prophets – but only Jesus. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and begin the season of Lent – a season of preparation that focuses on Jesus. It is my prayer that as we move into this season, we would see Jesus and only Jesus.

Prayer for the Week

cropped-transfiguration-abstract-e1360464424741.jpg

Transfiguration Sunday

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Light a Candle

church-1704825_640Transfiguration Sunday | February 11, 2018

2 Kings 2:1-12  •  Psalm 50:1-6  •  2 Corinthians 4:3-6  •  Mark 9:2-9

If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6 | New Living Translation (NLT)


This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday.  The gospel passage above tells that story. Jesus took his inner circle disciples to a mountain top to pray and while they were there, Jesus’ likeness changed.  Jesus shone as a light to the world.  Peter – the impetuous one – said, “Isn’t this wonderful, we should build some memorials and just stay here and worship Jesus.”

To this Jesus replies, “No, there is work to do – the gospel needs to be preached to the world.” We know that Jesus called himself the light of the world.  Jesus wants us to take his light and shine it to others, not hide it under a bushel – to quote an old kid’s song.

I had an interesting “conversation” yesterday. It really wasn’t a conversation, but a statement that I didn’t want to respond to. Part of that was because I was busy trying to pound out 10 minute miles on the elliptical.  A man said to me, “I heard a “progressive” girl say to someone, how can you even teach or speak about the Bible.” Like I said, I was really pushing it on the elliptical, so I really didn’t want to engage.  My thoughts weren’t so much about the girl, but the man who spoke that comment.  So often in Christian circles we are quick to curse the darkness and do nothing to light a candle – that is – to shine a light.

Take a look at this passage in 2 Corinthians.  Paul is reminding us that the Good News is hidden from people who are perishing.  He writes, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe.” I felt that the man’s comments were judgmental of the woman, when it isn’t her fault. Satan has put a veil in front of her face so that she can’t see the truth. Why must we do this?  Because of the veil, Paul says that they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News – they don’t understand the glory of Christ.  If you think about it for a moment, neither did those who were closest to Jesus.  Peter was oblivious to the glory of Jesus and he was standing right beside him there on the mount of transfiguration.

This passage is a great reminder that those who don’t know Jesus, haven’t necessarily rejected Jesus as much as their eyes are blinded to Jesus. One of those reasons is because Satan blinds them, but then I think sometimes we – as followers of Jesus – become a stumbling block.  Rather than point the way and shine the light of Christ, we simply say “how in the world could they believe that?”

Let’s be careful not to preach about ourselves, but let’s preach the glory of Jesus Christ – that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Let us preach this:

For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has mad this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 

Instead of cursing the darkness and asking why don’t they understand…Let us light a candle and shine the light of Christ.  Let us preach the Good News. Let us shine light the face of Jesus Christ.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

 


2 Peter 1:16-21 | New International Version (NIV)

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable,and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.


This Sunday we “wrap up” the season that follows Epiphany – often known as Ordinary Time.  It is one of two. The other follows Pentecost and goes till Advent.  The season of Ordinary Time that follows Epiphany is focused on the mission of Jesus.  I saw an illustration lately of the church year.  Advent through Eastertide is the story of Jesus, while the long ordinary time after Pentecost is the story of His people.  I like that.  We have been focusing on the reason that Jesus came.

Peter’s message here wraps up what we have been looking at over the last seven weeks.  Peter is one of the eyewitnesses of the transfiguration.  Peter was there – he reminds us that this is not a clever story but something that he saw – along with his buddies.  They heard the voice of God in an audible. Not many of us can say that.

Peter goes on to say that because of the experience on the mountain, he has great confidence in the message that he tells about Jesus, just as the prophets had great confidence in their message.  We too, as Jesus’ disciples, should have great confidence in the message – shining it out as a light in the darkness.  Peter commands us to take the message to heart until it shines like Christ the Morning Star in our hearts.

Peter reminds us that the Words – the scriptures are not of human making.  Just as Paul reminded us that our human words are foolishness, it is only the power of the Spirit working in and through us.  The prophets spoke and wrote the words from the Power of God’s Spirit.  If the early prophets did that, then so should we.  Christ wants us to shine like stars – to light up the world.

Prayer for the Week

Transfiguration SundayO God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Reflect the Glory of the Lord

transfiguration-lewis-bowman.jpgTransfiguration Sunday (February 7, 2016)


 

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.

But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up.We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.


It’s hard to believe that Lent is upon us.  This Sunday marks the last Sunday of the season of Epiphany. During this season we have looked at shining the light of Jesus – being a light to the world.  After all that was the mission of Jesus.  Jesus is the light of the world and He calls us to shine his light and reflect his glory.  This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday.  If you’ve been around the church, you’ve heard the story of the transfiguration of Jesus.  Jesus takes his inner circle of disciple friends to the mountain to pray.  While they are praying, Jesus face was transformed – his whole appearance was transformed – much like Moses face was transformed after meeting with God on Mount Sinai.  The people of Israel asked Moses to veil his face because the glow on his face was too bright.  Then suddenly, we are told, that two men show up, Moses and Elijah (probably to represent the law and the prophets,) and they begin talking to Jesus about his exodus from the world – very interesting.  What is amazing here is that Peter, James, and John have fallen asleep and wake up to this fascinating sight.  Impetuous Peter exclaims (my paraphrase) “This is cool! Jesus is talking to Moses and Elijah.  Let’s set up church here and just keep worshiping.”  As usual, Peter jumped the gun and God stepped in to show what really was going on.  God covered the transfiguration scene with a cloud, and spoke “This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to Him!”  And then Jesus was standing alone again with His disciples.

How would you react to such a scene?  It must have been incredible.  Imagine being Peter, James, and John.  They got to see Emmanuel – God with us in action.  Imagine seeing God in the flesh in action.  To be sure, they didn’t understand all of us.  We have the Spirit of God living in our hearts and sometimes we don’t understand it.

This is where we step into Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth.  Paul explains to them about Moses and his veiled face.  Moses had to veil his face because the peoples hearts were hardened to the work of God.  That’s why they couldn’t handle his transformed appearance.  Before we knew the Lord, our faces were veiled as well – we saw God with veiled faces because we couldn’t behold his glory – his beautiful radiance – for it was far to bright.  But now, since we know the Lord and we have turned our hearts to him, we reflect his glory.  The Spirit of the Lord removes the veil and now we reflect his glory.  How cool is that?  Paul reminds us that Jesus is the new way – the new covenant.  The law was the old covenant – it only pointed out all our faults and the fact that we could never keep it.  Paul reminds us of that in Romans 7.  It is only because of God’s great mercy that we are able to walk in the new covenant of Jesus’ grace and mercy – and in that grace and mercy, we are to reflect the image of the Son – just as Jesus reflects the image of his Father.

Prayer for the Week

Prayer_Banner_22-760x176O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.

God Shines In Glorious Radiance

transfiguration-255x336Transfiguration Sunday (February 15, 2015)

The Lord, the Mighty One, is God,
    and he has spoken;
he has summoned all humanity
    from where the sun rises to where it sets.
From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty,
    God shines in glorious radiance.
Our God approaches,
    and he is not silent.
Fire devours everything in his way,
    and a great storm rages around him.
He calls on the heavens above and earth below
    to witness the judgment of his people.
“Bring my faithful people to me—
    those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
Then let the heavens proclaim his justice,
    for God himself will be the judge.