Excerpts from a shared statement released by the ELCA on Thursday 24 February. Signatories are mostly national leaders of Christian church bodies in the USA and Canada; Basharat Saleem represents the Islamic Society of NA, Tarunjit Singh Butalia from Religions for Peace USA is Sikh, making this an interfaith declaration.
"All our religious traditions call us to pray and work for peace. We join our voices and hands together. We must open our eyes to those who are suffering, and we cannot remain indifferent to the injustice this conflict has brought on the people of Ukraine and may bring on people of neighboring countries.
"Join us as we pray:
"Oh Divine, most mighty, most merciful, our sacred stories tell us that you help and save your people. You are the fortress: may there be no more war. You are the harvest: may there be no more hunger. You are the light: may no one die alone or in despair. Oh Divine, most majestic, most motherly, grant us your life. Amen."
• Interfaith Call to Peace for Ukraine
28Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"―not knowing what he said.
34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
Transfigure=to change shape // Transfiguration=change of shape
Today the Epiphany segment of green and growing Ordinary Time concludes. This is the Western Protestant Church's Transfiguration Sunday, or (this year, since it's calendared according to the date of Easter Sunday) the eighth Sunday after Epiphany. The Roman Catholic branch of the church celebrates Transfiguration on the Second Sunday in Lent; Eastern Orthodox and some Anglican churches on August 6th. Transfiguration is an octave of eight days in the East—theologically and liturgically, it's so important they celebrate it for 8 days! Actually…some churches celebrate it twice.
So Far in Luke 9
• Jesus calls the 12 together and gives them authority to heal and cast out demons.
• Sends them out to proclaim the gospel and heal; charges them to find and stay at houses of peace/shalom, with the famous exhortation to shake the dust of any place off their feet if it isn't one of peace.
• Charges the 12 to feed the crowd—"you give them something to eat." 5 loaves, 2 fish.
• Peter confesses Jesus as Messiah, the Christ of God.
• Jesus' passion prediction—suffer, die, be buried, raised.
• Jesus calls us to bear his cross, to lose our lives in order to save our lives.
• And now, Jesus transfigured on the mountain top!
Backtracking: read Exodus 34:29-35
Jesus' appearance becomes transformed not simply because he experiences God's glory like Moses did, but because he is the source of divine glory.
Just as at Jesus' Baptism, at Transfiguration we experience a Trinitarian theophany: manifestation, showing forth, revelation of all three persons of the trinity. This is the end of the Epiphany season that emphasizes Jesus as light for all the world, not only for God's original people. The "Theo" prefix is God; remember other words that include "phan"? Epiphany, Tiffany, Fantasy. Any other similar words?
"About eight days" could refer to approximately one week, or it could refer to the 8th day of the New Creation. In their parallel passages, Mark and Matthew tell us 6 days, which also is about one week. In scripture mountains are places of special revelation. Both Moses [Exodus 20:1-17] and Elijah [1 Kings 19:12] received revelation on mountains. Jesus' crucifixion on Mount Calvary is the ultimate mountaintop revelation. As often happens in Luke's gospel, Jesus was praying when this revelation happened. Compare Jesus' baptism.
They talked about Jesus' departure: "Exodus" in the Greek. Although all three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke include the transfiguration, Jesus speaks of his exodus only in Luke. Luke's gospel particularly emphasizes a new freedom, new redemption, new liberation from war, violence, hatred, greed, a new way of living together in peace.
They'd just been celebrating the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles or Tents when people remembered and celebrated God's precarious protection during their wilderness wanderings (Leviticus 23:39-43), so sons of Zebedee Peter, James, and John had the idea of huts or little booths. In Hebrew cosmology, the cloud of the Shekinah was a frequent feminine image for the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
Why Moses and Elijah? What do we already know about them? Moses – Sinai Covenant/Ten Commandments, "Law"; Exodus. Elijah – Prophets.
Listen to Jesus!
Listen to Jesus! not "look at him," despite all the resplendent shiny heavenly glory and bling that surrounds him. Listen to Jesus, not to Moses or to Elijah, who didn't quite get everything right all the time. Listen to Jesus and not to any other (cultural, economic, consumer, ecclesiastical) voices evokes the Barmen Declaration  from the Confessing Church in Germany in the wake of the idolatry of nazi national socialism:
Barmen Declaration 8:11: "Jesus Christ, as he is attested to us in Holy Scripture, is the one Word of God whom we have to hear, and whom we have to trust and obey in life and in death."
Today we looked at Jesus' transfiguration. A quote from Nelson Mandela: "We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us." So how about us?