Sunday, February 19, 2006

February 26, 2006 - Year B - Epiphany Last/Transfiguration

2 Kings 2:1-12
Psalm 50:1-6
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Mark 9:2-9

It is so easy for Christ to be veiled. We fear to tell the truth we know and reduce it to the truth an institution knows. We are in the presence of light that brings together all our relevant past and illumines a direction from here and have no idea how to translate such an experience into language for ourselves or any one else. We fear that judgment is going to be condemnatory, not forgiving and we lose track of the presence of a G*D of steadfast love. We look for a double share of grace and turn it to our own advantage, hiding, not revealing, Christ.


  1. Mark 9:2-9

    In a conversation last night we tried to get away from a mechanistic approach to faith of "making disciples". This simply doesn't accord with our experience of forgiveness and grace. As we looked at the dynamics of our faith journey we found. oh, so many, temptations to constrain the presence of G*D, whether through Jesus or not. One of the biggest temptations we acknowledged is a sense of control or entitlement to "make" someone.

    A shorthand way of articulating a dynamic vision statement that would call us into a better future turned out, for this evening, to be, "revealing Christ".

    "Making disciples" has a feel of the blood and gore approach to atonement. "Revealing Christ" moves us to a creation centered, liberation energized attunement to Christ already present in the best and worst of times and folks. We are not called to create out of whole cloth the next generation of Christians, but to model the presence of G*D-with-us in our own lives. The healing and teaching needed is already present, it needs to be released as we travel with our Eastern Orthodox sisters and brothers toward divinization (theosis as the backdrop for the Wesleyan tradition of "going on to wholeness") and community (having all things in common). Perhaps just a longer way of living a love with G*D and neighbor and self and enemy.

    Try on this "releasing," instead of "making," language for yourself and see how you would complete these sentences:

    Christ is released for . . . .


    Christ is released from . . . .

    Was this exercise transfiguring for you?

  2. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

    And just how powerful is the "god of this world" that it can blind folks from a "God ... who has shone in our hearts"?

    It is all very well to try to make this an external game between divinities, but ultimately it is pretty unsatisfying to have to eternally see good in ourselves and bad in others. Somehow or other we tend toward setting up untenable arguments that are good for bashing, but not for healing. Here predestination is right around the corner. Our good, all powerful God must have allowed others to be condemned to blindness as a lesson to us to keep on the straight and narrow with this God.

    This sounds a bit like those lists that claim a good quality for myself when I am behaving poorly and a bad quality for you when you are exhibiting the same behavior. If any of you have access to one of these lists, I'd appreciate getting it. some examples are: I am forceful, you are ruthless; I am fair and balanced, you are partisan.

  3. Psalm 50:1-6

    Compare verse 3, "Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him" with the presence from the cloud in the Transfiguration scene which is not silent about "belovedness".

    What connection do you see between a devouring tempest and a beloved child?

  4. 2 Kings 2:1-12

    Elijah comes and goes and comes again. Jesus comes and goes and comes again. Consider that you are part of this same pattern of coming and going and coming again.

    We tend to get all caught up in coming and staying and staying. As long as we have these attachments it will be all too easy to identify with the disciples who want to build some temples where they can stay and stay and stay or with any political group that has an edge it will hone and hone and hone.

    The desire we are left with as we leave Epiphany behind is that of moving on. Elisha finally had to let go of Elijah and his own past choices in clothing and pick up Elijah's left-behind cloak. The disciples finally had to let go of Transfiguration and quietly go down the mountain. You and I finally have to use our belovedness and entrust ourselves to leaving our places of established security.

    We have come. It is time to go. It is time to trust there will be a coming again and to practice the spiritual disciplines of letting go.

  5. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

    Our transfiguration: their blindness. So we set Shi'a against Sunni, evangelical against progressive, democrat against republican, sister against sister, me against myself.

    The expected resolution is that they will become us. The reality is that we draw closer to one another and never achieve uniformity.

    Let's take the glory shining in our hearts and see through the outstretched arms of a cross the gift of forgiveness that does not demand one to one correspondence in all things, but honors the differences as well as the similarities (and the similarities may be harder to swallow than the differences).

    Light your knowledge and offer it in the presence of the light of the knowledge of others.

  6. Mark 9:2-9

    Transfiguring moments come in the midst of being kneaded by the experiences of life and the presence of G*D that moves beyond those experiences. I thought the derivation of the word from an image of "kneading" is one that could be played with.

    I have kneaded bread. There is a stretching and turning and folding and refolding that is very much like a midlife crisis that comes to re-orient past experiences and future dreams and present circumstances. They get stirred around, moved past one another, placed in different relationships.

    Here is Jesus hearkening back to creation’s goodness and baptism’s belovedness. Here is Jesus continuing to ask a question recently on his mind, "what can be given in return for life?" Here is Jesus anticipating the distance of anonymity of death (whirlwinds and who knows where he lies) and the prophetic condemnation to loneliness, forsakenness, and betrayal. Where do belovedness and forsakenness come together? How can any of this be spoken of.

    Unlike some whose kneading takes place over years as we muddle through to rise again, Jesus seems to bring these together and to have that shine of risen dough that says its time to go to the oven to see what we're made of. Shine, Jesus, shine. So what, Jesus, so what? Back to living, Jesus, back to living.

    Transfiguration is a lovely, shining moment that confirms a direction in life. For some of us our transfigurements confirms a new direction in life, while other are confirmed in continuation. What began as proofing (activating yeast) now has been proved by kneading dough and will soon enough become the bread of life, the staff of life, the stuff of life.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.