Thursday, February 03, 2005

The subject of the readings this week are an encounter with the holiness of God and how it changes everything for those who see it. Twice per year we have this lesson in the church cycle of readings. It is hard for the preacher to think of anything new to say about it. I move around from church to church because I am an Interim Priest (being the priest for a church while they are searching for a Rector) or doing supply (Sunday services only). It means that most people have not heard what I have said before or the stories that go along with those sermons. But nevertheless I try to find some new life for myself if nothing else. I am interested in what Joan Chittister has to say on this text. Jesus leads Peter, James, and John to the mountaintop where they have a mystical experience and then struggle with whether to stay and build shrines or descend into the valleys of hard work and daily life. But God says This is my Beloved . . . Listen to him. Jesus leads them down the mountain into the work of healing the world. telling them not to discuss what they have seen. He does not want shrines or religious piety - he wants us to take the sense of mystery we have experienced and use it as fuel to energize our ministries.
Our online EFM group uses pictures and paintings to reflect on scripture. Often the artist evokes some deeper meaning than the words can convey. La Transfiguration is the one for this week. In this painting Elijah and Moses are holding Jesus in embraces. Usually I think of an image where Jesus is standing in the middle and Elijah and Moses are standing on either side representing the Prophets and the Law - all that has come before standing side by side with Jesus. But here they are so intertwined it is hard to separate the figures. Peter, James, and John stand off to one side - staring. To me it reflects that there is no separation in God. There is not an "old" testament (as in over and done with) and a "new" testament (the fresh and different). They are intertwined and speak the same mesage of justice and compassion.

Here is a transfiguration story from BBC. Young reporter keeps an online diary of his dying of cancer to keep the terror from overwhelming him. He died last week. His story tells of his personal transfiguration and how he lived his life to the full.