St. Paul’s Congregational UCC
February 27th 2022
Scripture: Luke 9:28-36
Topic: “Seeing Things”
This past Sunday, all around the world Christians celebrated transfiguration Sunday. It is the day when we remember the transfiguration (transform into something more beautiful or elevated)of Christ before the eyes of his disciples. Accounts of this experience is documented in the Gospel of Matthew (17:1-8), Mark (9:2-8), Luke ( 9:28-36) and is alluded to in the book of John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’
This is considered one of the five most important moments of the ministry of Christ. The other 4 are his baptism, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, and in each of these pivotal moments we see extraordinary things happening. However, the transfiguration is a unique experience in the Gospels. It is considered one of the miracles of Jesus. But unlike most of the miracles of Jesus, it was not a miracle done by Jesus to someone else as we see in the case of Jesus healing the leper or the blind. This was a miracle by Jesus done on Jesus himself. In this scenario we see Jesus taking the inner circle of his disciples Peter James and John to a high mountain by themselves. After they got to the high mountain, they realize that Jesus was changed, he was transfigured. They looked on Jesus and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white (more than anyone could bleach)
And, as the disciples were looking at Christ and marveling at the sight, there appeared the ancestors Moses and Elijah, two of the patriarchs of the Scriptures. As you may know Moses himself had his transformation experience at the mountaintop with God on Mount Carmel where he received the tablets with the 10 commandments and “as he descended the glory of God was upon him. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.” Elijah had his transformation experience also as he was walking with Elisha, “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
Can you imagine the sight the disciples saw? They must have thought they were seeing things!
Moses! Elijah! Jesus shining in all his glory and the voice of God saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Surely this was the most incredible thing any of them have ever heard or seen.
Peter recognized that something extra-ordinary was happening, but instead of recognizing the spiritual significance of the moment he asked how he may build a physical structure to house the spirit of Moses and Elijah.
Has anything like this ever happened to you? Have you ever witnessed anything so incredible that you were completely blown away? Something that completely changes your whole life? A time when you felt an unusual outpouring of the God’s love or the Holy Spirit. A one-on-one encounter with Christ or God Almighty? A feeling in which you were momentarily lifted from the mundane physical world and elevated to the world of the Spirit?
Almost all of us have had mountain top experiences. However, Like Peter we often miss the spirit of the moment and only recognize it in retrospect or must be told we are in a sacred moment. Kind of like Moses who was talking to a burning bush but had to be told to take his shoes off because he was standing on holy ground. Or even like the child Samuel who hears the voice of God repeatedly and had to be told to answer, “speak Lord, Your servant is listening.”
Similar to Moses, Elijah and Samuel, the ordinary moments of our lives have the potential to bring us closer to the Divine. When we believe we are seeing things may we look with our eyes and with our hearts so we can recognize God in the moment. Let us not miss the in-breaking of God into our ordinary because like Peter we focus only on the material and miss the spiritual. This week and throughout this Lenten season, I encourage you to pause, be present, look with your eyes and with your heart to see God in ourselves, in others and in the world around us. It may be on a trip up the mountain, or at the supermarket, gazing at a bush or looking at the open sky. Wherever you are may you encounter the Holy and may you be transformed to reflect more fully the love of God in this world. Amen.
Rev. Andrea Vassell, M.Div