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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Transfiguration



2/7 



Pastor Bob and the Seed Group singers


Today is Transfiguration Sunday. The Seed Group is back again. They open our service with some songs. Concluding with Jeremy leading us in Light of the Lighthouse by Blind Willie Johnson


We read Psalm 99 and then LUKE 9:28-36 (37-43) . Following the gospel, Jeremy leads  us in the original camp meeting version of Glory, Glory Hallelujah. "Oh! Brothers will you meet me(3X)/On Canaan's happy shore?"[1] and chorus "There we'll shout and give him glory (3x)/For glory is his own";[2] this developed into the familiar "Glory, glory, hallelujah" chorus by the 1850s. 

 And then Jenna does a reading from Zora Neal Hurston’s Their Were Watching God where the town celebrates the arrival of the first street lamp in a colored (sic) town.
and we all sing Jesus the Light of the World…

And then time for reflection

TRANSFIGURATION SUNDAY is one of those  “gateway” Sundays…like Christ the King (Advent), Ascension (Pentecost) It marks the culmination of a season, a time, before a new one begins…

This marks the end of the season of light…began with epiphany…the star, the aha! moment…the moment of getting it… the narrative since Christmas has followed Jesus’ journey of self-discovery, and in parallel, our  journey of discovery of our own calls…so we pause here…before a time of self-reflection, self-examination that will come with Lent..

And the topic is transfiguration, which defined is ….

a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.

Well, alright then

Transfiguration…words like

Shining   and Glory (from the latin Gloria ) that word alone has seven meanings…from high praise to God to magnificent beauty…

What is in the story?

Jesus on a mountaintop with Moses and Elijah…the law and the prophets…also Moses “shines” …Elijah is carried up into the heavens …(Elijah still has the capacity to come around…at brises…and Passover , we save a seat for him..and well, any time…)
How do the friends respond? Peter, always impulsive, wants to make the moment last…build three booths, so the guys can hang out…stay on the mountaintop…but they have to go back to work and immediately, Jesus has to deal with a demon…

When March madness ends in April with the national basketball championship, the song they always play with the tournaments’ video highlights is…one shining moment..

SO what?
1.     We all have those moments of glory. At least I hope we do…we don’t want to let go…the last night of Antigona, I almost cried as I watched each moment for the last time..wanting to hold on…I’ve had services here where I just wanted it  to end there…some recent Christmases., eg…but the next day, there;s work to be done,…you have to go back and start again…whoever wins the Suoer Bowl, next July will have to start all over again.

As I watch the videos of my first grand child, I remembered the birth of his father, that Is my first child…I want to tell him hold onto these moments, they’re gone  so fast… for just a moment, think clearly  in your head of your moment…what did that feel like?

2.     This story is in 3 of the gospels…but only Luke speaks of the apostles weighed down with sleep….why? These guys are not tired, they are exhausted..physically, mentally, emotionally….and Jesus keeps trying to tell them the worst is still ahead…
Luke is saying what it’s like…you solve one problem another one comes up..you fix one part of this old building, another issue appears..just when you think a moment of financial  peace Is here, something always happens….you come back for a great family trip  to Dublin,with two full week s of  August left to get ahead …and you fall and break five ribs…your day is carefully planned and one thing after another  goes wrong…you just want to sleep..or stay in bed…I almost feel Luke is thinking about depression…

But because they manage to stay awake, they catch this moment of glory…
When you feel like you can't go on…,.open your eyes wider…see what you see…

3.     Glory and transfiguration
Glory, glory halleliujah!...Jeremy gave us the ur source. of that familiar song.and I can tell you no one knows more about that sing than Jeremy…I still remember his play…all the variations, and the deviled eggs…but that’s another story….

Julia Ward Howe used this song fpr the battle hymn….I raised eyebrows the first time I used it on this Sunday….it was this verse..

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 die to make men free*,
[14]
While God is marching on.

We’ve moved away from it’s militarism, no longer in our hymnbooks…but…for her the apocalyptic moment was apotheosis of the abolition movement and her sense of an apocalyptic moment in the struggle for human freedom…

Did you know Lincoln suffered from depression? What they called melancholia? Only when he saw a cause beyond himself, when slavery moved from a political issue to a sense of  call  could move beyond his depression….

Once we have seen or experienced those transfiguring  moments, they are always  there…their memory keep us going…and that going becomes more than going, which can only leave us exhausted, if we have a vision to move to …our personal dream or a cause beyond ourselves…

So …preparation for Lent…this week, before Ash Wednesday, write down your shining moment…see it clearly…have your  own mardi gras, or celebrate with others…and then on ash Wednesday, make list of the things that weigh you down, exhaust you, make you want to stay in bed…. And pray about them or meditate on them for 40 days…and then I’ll tell you what happens next….

Following the reflection, we share Eucharist together. And the service concludes with another selection of songs by our group, it's good to feel them moving closer to us.  And then time for a benediction and Amen.

                           ****
FIRST READING EXODUS 34:29-35
29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

GOSPEL LUKE 9:28-36 (37-43)
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 him33Just 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.
37On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, "Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not." 41Jesus answered, "You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here." 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.


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