Need to get Joe and La Toya moving on but as they look ready to leave, I notice lots of papers and a big patch of what looks like spaghetti sauce. Joe sees me looking at him and says, that’s not me, I didn’t do it. And I say You don’t understand, I can’t be dealing with this. I don’t care who did it, I’m going to have to close the steps.
I didn’t dooo it, he says, more emphatically.
I shake my head and head to the basement for a bucket of water and a mop. I’ve got little enough time but have to mop the steps. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Keith talking with Joe. I say, Good morning Keith, but he doesn’t respond, knowing he’s banned. So I sweep up all the stray papers and then hit the mop. As I’m heading back to the basement, Jeremy arrives ready to rehearse. I remain calm .
Two young Asian women walk in. Is there a service? they ask. Soon, I say.
This is Transfiguration Sunday. Our lessons are Exodus 24:12-18, Psalm 99, 2 Peter 1:16-21 and Matthew 17: 1-9. We spend most of our time on Matthew. This is one of those gateway Sundays you pass through to get from one liturgical season to the next. Like how Christ the King Sunday is the crowning of the year before we start all over again with Advent. Epiphany begins with a burst of light, a star shining in the darkness, and ends in one final blast. Like the grand finale of a Macy’s 4th of July fireworks show on the Hudson. We should have candles all over the place. Epiphany is a moment of getting it in an instant. Transfiguration is vision, a shimmering image, a revelation.
There is Jesus on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. We notice the similarity in detail to Moses on the mountain. And that Moses represents the law and Elijah the prophets. Jesus comes as fullfillment of both. Or as witness to both. And all three have, well, let’s say different ends. Moses dies, but his grave is hidden so as to not become a shrine. Elijah is carried away on a flaming chariot. And Jesus, well, we know that story. It’s one season away.
Elijah’s go a special role. He has a seat at all special occasions like Passover and brisses. He can seemingly appear when needed for a special miracle, unseen yet present. And he’s the forerunner for the Messiah.
And then there’s the disciples like Peter. The one with no impulse control. Ready to build three booths. Wanting to make this one shining moment of March madness last. Mostly we talk about mountain top experiences. We pause to share a few. Some at work, some exceptional, some more ordinary. Mine, well, it was Christmas at West-Park. But you can never stay there. You’ve got to go back down, back to every day life. Where things are not always quite so clear. Don’t shine so much. Wrestle with the ordinary.
The voice of God breaks through again, just like at his baptism. This is my son, my beloved….
It was after all, a vision. Someone says, and you’re never absolutely sure you saw what you saw. And how visions lead us forward. And Jesus says, Tell no one…Why? His job's not done yet, someone says. And someone else, he doesn’t want people to follow him because he's spectacular, because he shines.
Mountaintops. Like Moses who looked out over the promised land, knowing he’d never go there. Or Martin Luther King, Jr.’s prescient vision before his assassination…I have been to the mountaintop…I might not get there with you…mine eyes of seen the glory, visions like that And those lines fromJulia Ward Howe's Battle Hymn of the Republic to which he was referring,
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me: As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free; While God is marching on. Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.
The transfiguration so fully in King’s vision.
May this vision sustains us through the 40 days of Lent. And longer. Our journey has miles to go.
We finish with the Lord’s Supper, Deacon John R serving.
We make our circle. And take time to visit with our two young Korean women, here to audition for Mannes. We share with them our prayers that they might do their best. And then set about cleaning up.
The Session meets. Post mortem for another plan gone awry. But with a strong sense of what we have. We’re ready to move forward regardless. Get the work underway, reclaiming our space, improving it. Bringing more life to it. Have to keep that vision before us, of how what we are can lead to what we can be.