Revised Common Lectionary Reflection, Transfiguration of our Lord, Year C
March 3, 2019
Lessons: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people are part of a long narrative of faith, and illumined by that never-failing light, we do not lose heart as disciples.
Key Scripture: Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. – 2 Corinthians 4:1
This Sunday we celebrate that mountaintop experience known as the Transfiguration of our Lord. It’s a pinnacle moment where for an instant we get the balcony view of Jesus’ ministry and mission, as well as a glimpse of what lies ahead for all of creation. This event is a moment in time, a pause, a showing, a hint of something much bigger and more glorious. The experience is also a transitory one because time keeps going, and we can’t hang onto it no matter how hard we try. Nothing—no photo, description, painting, or mindful memory—can accurately capture the thing itself.
For those of us charged with preaching and teaching about the Transfiguration of Jesus, this reality can be a tricky one. How does one move beyond the trite, beyond the “Shine, Jesus, Shine” hymnody, and past the nostalgic creep that can accompany such festival days and scriptural snapshots of the Christ? How do we connect this gospel event with folks’ daily realities and discipleship journeys?
The obvious starting point is to understand your context and yourself. What have congregants experienced previously with this lesson? Are they more abstract or concrete in their approach to the biblical narrative, or is there a range of approaches to scripture? How have you as preacher or teacher approached the story of the Transfiguration in past years? Have you worked it out for yourself in a way that makes you comfortable sharing this account with others? Have you been to a real mountaintop and gazed in all directions? Are you someone who has had a “mountaintop experience” with your faith, a time of revelation and sudden deep knowing? If so, can you share something of your own experience with others in relation to this week’s lesson?
The view from the mountaintop is stunning, exhilarating, and maybe even a little terrifying. When we’re away from the daily realities of life and work, we can see more clearly and focus on the glory of Jesus and the far reach of the Christ. Suddenly, we can connect the dots, understand how we are connected and woven into this divine narrative, and delineate that which is truly important. However, just as Jesus and the disciples, we don’t stay on that mountaintop. There’s mission and ministry waiting on the level places. People need hope, healing, and good news. The way of Jesus leads us into dark and difficult places. The possibility of sacrifice and suffering is real. Death will come for all of us.
Yes, the Transfiguration is a glorious blip in time, a reminder and reassurance of the true nature of our Lord and of our place in the grand scheme of salvation and the restoration of all things to their original intent. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we too shine with the glory of the Lord for all to see. We’re not there yet, but we press on, engaged in ministry as disciples of Christ. In this we do not lose heart, for we have seen a glimpse of what is and how we are connected. This, beloved siblings in faith, is very good news indeed! Share it with confidence. Shine with the light of Christ for all to see.
Where you stand depends on where you sit–even in a worship space! Why not invite people to mix it up a little this morning and find a different location in the worship space? Tell them it has to do with the lesson and seeing/experiencing something familiar in fresh light. Before the sending blessing or at least after the sermon, invite people to share what they noticed from their “new” vantage point. Did they observe the windows in new light? Hear the choir or instruments better? See Holy Communion from a fresh perspective? Was the new location distracting? Invite them to ponder how sitting in a new place in worship might be similar to how the drowsy disciples experienced a new view of Jesus on the mountaintop.
Consider introducing your youth to prayer practices that help them “listen” for Jesus. Options might include centering prayer, lectio divina, meditation. For more ideas visiting
The Living Prayer Center: http://prayer-center.upperroom.org/resources/resources-methods
Youth Specialties: https://youthspecialties.com/blog/contemplative-prayer-practices/
Contemplative Outreach: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/sites/default/files/private/method_cp_eng-2016-06_0.pdf
This week’s focus verse is Luke 9:35: Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
Not only did Peter, James, and John see Jesus in his glory with Moses and Elijah, they also heard God’s voice telling them to listen to Jesus. Although most of us won’t hear God’s voice, this message is for us, too. We are to listen to Jesus. So how do we do that? (Invite the children’s responses.)
- We listen to scripture.
- We listen for Jesus when we pray—both aloud and when we sit quietly.
- We listen for Jesus in the wisdom of our parents, grandparents, teachers, and other wise elders.
- We listen for Jesus when we are enjoying God’s good creation—the wind, the sound of the waves at the beach, the rustling of the trees, the sound of the birds.
Jesus is still speaking today, but we can’t hear him if we don’t listen. Good advice is to listen twice as much as you speak; after all, we have two ears and one mouth. Challenge the children to listen for Jesus this week.
Finish with a simple prayer for the children and give them a blessing that reflects this week’s focus verse.
Weekly Stewardship Bulletin Insert
Everybody loves a mountaintop moment, whether it’s a great faith experience or having your sports team bring home the championship. But life is more than just moments. We are in this life for the long haul, and we follow Jesus every single day. We try to be faithful stewards of this good news by God’s mercy, and in doing so we do not lose heart.
Stewardship at Home
This Sunday marked the end of Epiphany, the season where Jesus is revealed to us as the Christ and where we encounter him in ministry. In a few days we enter Lent through Ash Wednesday and begin the journey to the cross. We’ve climbed to the mountaintop, only to turn around and head back down toward the dark and dangerous places of life.
This week contemplate how you will steward the 40 days of Lent. From what will you fast? How can you use the Transfiguration glimpse of glory to inform the journey to the cross? What broken places of the world are you called to encounter, and how can your fasting make a difference?
One simple challenge that can make a big difference is the SUP Challenge issued by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA. This challenge provides an opportunity to abstain from a particular single use plastic (SUP) each week. Would you be willing to give up using plastic bags for a week? How about plastic straws? Can you give up plastic bottles? Styrofoam cups? How about plastic wrap? If you accept this challenge, you can learn more about the benefits to the environment of reducing or eliminating single use plastics here at Beth Terry’s website My Plastic Free Life. Learn more about the SUP Challenge here.
2016 Reflection: http://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2016/02/with-great-boldness/
Photos: Rich Gibson, Sharron Blezard, and Harsh Patel, Creative Commons usage license. Thanks!