Saturday, February 10, 2024

Transfiguration 2024

Mark 9:7
This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!
Mark 9:7

Mark 9:2-10

2 Six days later, 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, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Up Until Now

All three synoptic gospels narrate the Transfiguration:

Mark 9:2-10
Matthew 17:1-9
Luke 9:28-36

John's gospel doesn't include the Transfiguration. Do you have any ideas why?

In Mark, Matthew, and Luke, the same events lead to the Transfiguration:

• Feeding a multitude with a few loaves and fishes
• Peter confesses Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah, the Christ of God.
• Jesus' first passion prediction that he must suffer, die, be buried, and be raised
• Jesus charges us to follow him and to take up his cross.

East and West

Jesus' nativity and his transfiguration bookend the first major portion of the church year. In Christmas or the Incarnation, the divine enters the human condition. At the Transfiguration, James, John, and Peter share divine glory with Jesus, who also is fully human. Transfiguration in Greek is metamorphosis. Similar to Jesus' Baptism in early January, the Transfiguration famously brings us a Trinitarian theophany, a simultaneous revelation of all three persons of the godhead. The light show on the mountain (traditionally Mount Tabor or Mount Meron, though scripture doesn't specify) continues the epiphany theme of light.

This final Sunday of the Epiphany season is Transfiguration only in Western protestant churches; Eastern Orthodox, some Roman Catholic, and some Anglican churches celebrate Transfiguration on August 6th. Many Orthodox churches observe Transfiguration for an octave of eight days—Transfiguration is that important! The Roman Catholic calendar also schedules Transfiguration on the Second Sunday in Lent.

Eastern culture in general hasn't become as captive to Enlightenment rationalizing as have most people in the West. They easily acknowledge there's not a logical human or scientific explanation to every miraculous happening, for every revelation of Divinity in scripture or in our daily lives. Those in the global East routinely sit and live more easily with mystery and paradox than most in the global West do.

The Only Word: Barmen Declaration

Moses (representing the law) and Elijah (representing the prophets) appeared on the mountain with Jesus, the ultimate Word of God, the definitive interpreter of the Law and the Prophets.

Despite all the brightness and resplendent bling, the voice out of a cloud doesn't suggest we "look at him," but it commands us listen to him! Mark 9:7

Listen to jesus, not to Moses or to Elijah, who didn't quite get everything right all the time. In a biblical lifestyle, to listen is to hear is to obey.

Listen to Jesus! and don't heed any other cultural, consumer, economic, ecclesiastical voices evokes the Theological Declaration of Barmen [1934] from the Confessing Church in Germany in the wake of the idolatry of nazi national socialism.

Barmen Declaration text and background
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.

We reject the false doctrine that there could be areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ but to other lords, areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.

Christmas is Over; Lent begins

Opinions and practices differ as to whether the Christmas season ends at the Day of Epiphany, at Jesus' Baptism, or at his Presentation in the Temple. But with cleaning more sumptuous ingredients out of cupboards and pantries to make Shrove Tuesday pancakes, along with its parallel Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, and with Ash Wednesday three days away (Valentine's Day day this year), without a doubt Transfiguration concludes seasons that formally magnify Jesus as God incarnate and Jesus as light to the world.

Advent traditions and scriptures still have a sense of repentance, yet Advent currently places more emphasis on preparation, expectation, and hope. However, Lent remains a penitential season and a time of service to others. Because of that, on Transfiguration we bury the alleluias because we usually don't sing or pray "alleluia" during Lent.

Today we looked at Jesus' transfiguration. A quote from Nelson Mandela: "We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us."

shrove Tuesday pancakes
2 Corinthians 4:5
We proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord
and ourselves as your slaves
for Jesus' sake.
2 Corinthians 4:5

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