The Pas Transfiguration – Last Sunday after Epiphany
3 March 2019
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
2 Peter 1:16-19
Holy God, mighty and immortal, you are beyond our knowing, yet we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Transfigure us into his likeness, so that, as a people changed and changing, we may illumine the world with your compassion. We ask this through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Today, Peter tells us: “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.” (2 Peter 1:16)
And we know Peter, right?
Former fisherman, used be known as Simon before Jesus came and completely reshaped his life, as he reshapes each of our lives, in turn?
So today, we need to ponder what happens when someone tells the truth, or when we tell the truth, but that truth isn’t believed, or better yet, we are accused of lying?
When that happens, when that affects our very hearts, something very tangible happens in our lives and in our hearts. Sometimes to the point where we can feel it, and that something is the light, the love, the joy of our words becomes a little dimmer than it was before.
We lose hope.
And we can see Peter talking about this, today, in the epistle from 2nd Peter.
Peter talks about sharing the gospels of Christ, the accounts and anecdotes of miracles, the events surrounding the transfiguration on the mountain top and the rest of the life altering events of Jesus life, for you and for me.
Sharing not from the perspective of ‘have you heard’ but from the point of view of ‘I was there, I saw this myself, and it was a life changing experience!’
He tells us that these aren’t made up accounts. They’re not stories told for the purpose of entertainment around the fireside in the evenings to delight audiences.
Rather he tells us that he was there.
Our gospel tells us that he was so terrified that he couldn’t think straight, so dropped into a conference planning hospitality role.
The gospel tells us: “Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)” (Lk 9:33b)
At the same time, he tells us that he heard the words spoken from the midst of the cloud, the words from God.
So, if we take Peter’s words. He heard God speak. The account is real, it’s not made up to provide a good tale on a long evening, then the light he talks about begins to have a source, and that source is the love of God. That source is the light of our faith and belief.
Peter tells us: “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.” (2 Peter 1:19)
And these aren’t just Peter’s words, they’re our words, as well.
The light that Peter talks about is all around us, and also within each one of us as well. But if our light has gone out, how do we reignite it?
How is each of our lights relit after being buffeted about and put down by people who don’t believe the veracity of our words, of our faith, of our actions to fulfill God’s call in and for and through each of our lives.?
Let’s face it, the transfiguration changes each one of us who accepts the accounts of the gospels, of Peter’s word, told to us, today, as factual.
And when we are able to do that, then we’re each of us changed, we’re transfigured in the same way that Christ himself was transfigured on the mountain top, as Peter was transfigured by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Now, these changes may start out small, tiny, really, but as they build one upon the other, they’re incredibly profound.
“Jesus … took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” (Lk 9:28b-29)
Today we witness, along with the disciples, Jesus transfiguration on the mountain top when, in the presence of Moses, and Elijah, of Peter, James, and John, the full glory of God is visible.
In the epistle lesson we see that such a light didn’t go away, rather it ignited that same light, that same spark within Peter, James, and John: smaller, yes; more fragile, possibly, but it’s there.
And that light is ignited in each of us when we have the faith and trust to believe that what Peter tells us, what Luke tells us is the truth.
Throughout the rest of their lives, their time with Jesus, that light took on a little more strength each time. Each time, something happened to show them, to show each of us that this is God made manifest and that God’s love isn’t wrapped up in the laws set down to guide us, but rather God’s love is the fulfillment of the law.
And that resonates with and in each one of us, as it does for Peter who writes of his own experiences, today.
Now we have to remember that this spark of light didn’t start on the mountain top. Rather it revealed itself there.
This spark began when Jesus called Peter James and John from their boats, from their ordinary lives as fishermen to be apostles and leaders.
This spark began when each of us felt the love and call of Jesus, whether that is in our baptism, or as adults leading us to and through the waters of baptism.
At the same time, Jesus called the apostles to be pioneers, to be messengers, to be the light of an entirely new way to see God’s role in our lives from one who must be beseeched and appeased to one who welcomes us into God’s arms to be loved and upheld, to be encouraged, and supported.
So, Peter knows what its like to have your words laughed at and disregarded.
He knows what it’s like to be thought that our words of our lives of faith are treated as a tale that is so farfetched that it’s not true.
All we have to do is look at the accounts of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit blows through the gathered believers like a wind fanning the flame of our believe from a spark amongst kindling to bonfire strength faster than we can say “Pentecost” three times fast. (Acts 2)
And the Holy Spirit gifting people so that the words of Peter, of the other apostles and disciples are able to be shared around the world, and in every context.
But it was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, who reminds us that “once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
“2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. … 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? … 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
(Acts 2:1-3, 4-8, 12-13)
And from that point, then Peter understood, from the words of those on the streets of Jerusalem, that for many, the light within has gone out, and it needs to be gently relit.
For some, the ashes of the old need to be swept away, and a new fire needs to be laid. Kindling and small pieces that are dry, and then the larger pieces, once the flame kindles.
Or, for others, it may be like when we share candle light in the darkness – one wick takes the light from the one next to it, like on Christmas Eve, or at Easter Vigil when we share the new light of Christ in our hands, and in our hearts.
For all of us, it takes an act of faith, both to receive the light and to share it in the act of sharing our faith, and the accounts from the bible, that Peter tells us are first hand accounts, not passed along and added to, to make the story more sensational.
Today we commemorate as shift in Jesus ministry amongst us. Today we honour the light in our hearts, in our lives, and acknowledge that the challenge of sharing the love of God still exists, today.
A challenge that existed in Peters day, that existed in Moses’ day, that existed in Elijah’s day, as well. Challenges that existed on the mountain when Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah.
Yes, the love of God is still needed in the world, probably now more than ever.
Yes, as Peter points out to us, the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry are true. And since they’re true, that truth clings to each of us who believe like walking into a warm beam of sunlight.
But at the same time, that light of faith, that spark of God’s love visible all around us and within each of our lives isn’t meant to be kept to ourselves.
After all, “16 “No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.” (Lk 8:16)
So, we can take Peter’s words to heart when he says: “19 We … 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.” (2 Peter 1:19)