Tag Archives: Transfiguration of the Lord

All for transformation

Reading
Matthew 17.1–9

The new heavens and the new earth are not replacements for the old ones; they are transfigurations of them. The redeemed order is not the created order forsaken; it is the created order—all of it—raised and glorified. Robert Farrar Capon, Kingdom, Grace Judgment: Paradox, Outrage and Vindication in the Parables of Jesus

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My wife and I are very fortunate in that we live by the river. Every day, as I leave the house I see it. We live on a bend in the river, and we see the gentle flow of the water, and often there are pelicans on the river and flocks of cockatoos.

Quite often, I get surprised that I live in such a lovely spot. I seem to forget after a night’s sleep. So I might step out of the house, and I am once more surprised and amazed by the river’s beauty.

Sometimes, I it moves me so much that I am transfixed. I have to stand still and gaze, or walk over the road so I can be closer to the river. Being transfixed is not the same as being to transformed, even transfigured; but I think it may be the first step.

Beauty can do that to you.

On other days, I just leave the house, get in my car and drive without a second glance. What makes the difference? Is there something different about the river—perhaps the light plays on it in a way that catches my attention? Or is there something different about me on the days I pause, maybe I’m in a mood to be amazed?

Or possibly it may be both the river and me? Perhaps sometimes it is.

When Jesus takes the disciples up the mountain, they see a vision of him transfigured and they are afraid. At least that’s what happened there and then. But I wonder what happens deeper in someone’s heart and soul when this happens? I wonder if the disciples were now taking baby steps on the road to their own transfiguration?

Because that’s what the Transfiguration is ultimately all about: the disciples being transfigured. ‘Transfiguration’ is about our transformation into the people God made us to be. Our transfiguration into being God’s children, bearing the image of Jesus Christ.

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Transfiguration happens all the time (Year B, 15 February, 2015)

Readings
2 Corinthians 4.3–6
Mark 9.2–9

Today, we heard that odd story we call The Transfiguration.

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them…

It may appear to be a strange story, but you know little transfigurations, ‘mini transfigurations’, happen all the time.

By that, I mean that something quite ordinary can easily become truly significant to us in a life-changing way. It becomes a moment of transfiguration for us. We don’t control it, it just seems to happen, but we know that it is so. We may know it at the time, or we may realise it later as we reflect back on what has happened. But there it is—a moment of transfiguration.

We often associate these mini moments of transfiguration with love.

I remember first seeing Karen. At the time, I was just looking at a pretty girl. (I doubt she remembers the occasion at all.) In retrospect, as I look back, that moment has been transfigured for me into something full of meaning.

Two other people may lock eyes across a crowded room, and they just know there and then. This is the one. Their hearts skip several beats, and the moment transfigures their lives. They know it straight away.

A mother or father holds their child for the first time. Their heart melts with love, and the meaning of this event is one that changes their lives forever.

It’s a little moment of transfiguration. The new mum and dad see more truly what their lives truly mean.

A young person finally realises that they have vocation in life, which may be to teach, to nurse, to be a gardener. They feel elated. They want to share it with others. That’s a moment of personal transfiguration too.

These little, personal moments of transfiguration happen when something ordinary reveals itself as something meaningful.

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‘All for transformation’ (Transfiguration of Jesus, Year A, 2 March 2014)

Readings
Exodus 24.12–18
Matthew 17.1–9

‘All for transformation’: The Offering of bread and wine in the light of the Transfiguration

Karen and I are very fortunate in that we live by the river. Every day, as I leave the house I see it. We live on a bend in the river, and we see the gentle flow of the water, and often there are pelicans on the river.

Quite often, I get surprised that I live in such a lovely spot. I seem to forget after a night’s sleep. So I might step out of the house, and I am once more amazed by the river’s beauty.

Sometimes, I it moves me so much that I am transfixed. I have to stand still and gaze, or walk over the road so I can be closer to the river. Being transfixed is not the same as being to transformed, even transfigured; but I think it may be the first step.

Beauty can do that to you.

On other days, I just leave the house, get in my car and drive without a second glance. What makes the difference? Is there something different about the river—perhaps the light plays on it in a way that catches my attention? Or is there something different about me on the days I pause, maybe I’m in a mood to be amazed?

Or possibly it may be both the river and me? Perhaps sometimes it is.

When Jesus takes the disciples up the mountain, they see a vision of him transfigured and they are afraid. At least that’s what happened there and then. But I wonder what happens deeper in someone’s heart and soul when this happens? I wonder if the disciples were now taking baby steps on the road to their own transfiguration?

Because that’s what the Transfiguration is ultimately all about: the disciples being transfigured. ‘Transfiguration’ is about our transformation into the people God made us to be. Our transfiguration into being God’s children, bearing the image of Jesus Christ.

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The Transfiguration of Jesus (Year A, 6 March 2011)

Landmarks

Readings
2 Peter 1.16-21
Matthew 17.1-9

When my family first arrived in Australia in 1965, we were placed into a rather grotty fish processing plant which had been recently turned into a migrant hostel. It reeked of fish. Rotting fish. We took any and every opportunity to get away from there, and not knowing what else to do, we went into Brisbane City quite a few times. We’d been advised that you couldn’t get lost in the city—all you had to do, wherever you were, was to look for the City Hall clocktower and take your bearings from it. And you know, it worked! We used it as a landmark to help us in a strange place.

Of course, today that’s impossible, with all the high-rise buildings that have gone up since. Today, City Hall is dwarfed by its neighbours. The clocktower no longer serves as a landmark.

If you’re in a strange place, or on a hike through the bush, landmarks are essential. They tell you where you are. A landmark may be a mountain, a waterfall, a building or a fork in the road. Without those landmarks, we’d be lost.

The spiritual writer Margaret Silf talks about landmarks on the spiritual journey. When we’re on the spiritual journey, we need landmarks just as much as when we’re on a walk through the bush. Perhaps even more.

Let me tell you about a landmark on my spiritual journey. It was 3 April, 1983. I can date it exactly, because it was Easter Sunday.

I’d been studying hard for my post-graduate qualifications as a psychiatrist. I’d also been steadily losing my faith; it seemed to me to be less and less real.

Most of my friends had gone away for Easter, but I had stayed home to study. I’d decided to go to church on Easter morning, more out of a sense of duty than anything. So I walked down the road to a nearby church, St Peter’s Anglican Church.

I love the Anglican liturgy, I really do—when it’s done well. However, it can be done very badly indeed.

On this occasion, it was dire. I wasn’t a regular attender of this church by any means, and I’d heard that the priest wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but I wasn’t prepared for how bad it was.

As the service went on, I wished I were somewhere else. But I was too polite to walk out.

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A doorway of glory

Sermon for the Transfiguration of Jesus (22 February 2009)

2 Corinthians 4.3-6

Mark 9.2-9

We sang before,

The splendour of the King,
clothed in majesty.
Let all the earth rejoice,
all the earth rejoice.

He wraps himself in Light,
and darkness tries to hide
and trembles at his voice,
trembles at his voice.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples Peter, James and John had what Matthew’s Gospel calls a vision; a vision in which they certainly saw the splendour of the King. Clothed in dazzling white, between the two great heroes Moses and Elijah, Jesus is called the Beloved Son by a voice from a cloud. God’s voice.

Today takes us towards the end of a season of the Church called Epiphany. Epiphany means revealing—the revealing of Christ. It begins with the revealing of the young boy Jesus to the wise men from the East. It includes the baptism of Jesus, in which God also says, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved’. This year, it proclaimed Jesus the deliverer of the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue at Cana, Jesus the healer of Peter’s mother-in-law and of the leper.

And now this same Jesus is revealed in absolute glory. No wonder Peter wants to capture the moment! If he’d had a mobile phone he’d have had it out, taking a photo, flashing it to his friends and calling the press. What a coup! How good was it to be a friend of Jesus! Wait till the gang at home hear about this!

Not so fast, Peter. You don’t get it. We can understand that the disciples’ response is fear: Peter didn’t know what to say, ‘for they were terrified’.

Now, last week we talked about the bushfires in Victoria, and we said that they were not a punishment from God.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fear God. Continue reading

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A glimpse of our destiny

Sermon for the Transfiguration of the Lord

Matthew 17.1-9

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord.
 
Some people have said to me, “Why do we have the Transfiguration every year?” (Good question!—though no one ever asks why we have Christmas and Easter every year. I suspect that’s got something to do with getting Christmas presents and Easter eggs, and having public holidays! If we got gifts for Transfiguration, or at least a long weekend for the Day of the Transfiguration, we might not ask that question.) 

So, why do we have the Transfiguration every year? It’s simple really: We have the Transfiguration of the Lord every year because it is such an important episode in the life of Jesus. It’s more important than we’ve generally allowed it to be. It’s important enough that you’ll find it in each of the first three gospels. It was a time of strengthening for Jesus before he went to Jerusalem to face the cross, which is why we remember it today, the last Sunday before Lent. It is too important for us to forget it.

It’s also one of only two times that the voice of God directly says, “This is my beloved Son.” The other is at Jesus’ baptism. 

It’s a strange story. Jesus hand picks three disciples, goes up to a mountain, and then the disciples see him with Moses and Elijah, two of the great heroes of the Old Testament. They see his face shining like the sun, and they hear a voice from heaven which says, “This is my beloved Son.” Not Moses. Not Elijah. Jesus is God’s only Son.

Whatever the disciples expected, it was most certainly not this. 

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