The Transfiguration of Our Lord
Introduction and Call to Worship
Peter, James and John see the glory of Jesus revealed in a blaze of dazzling whiteness. So, let us worship God, offering praise and thanksgiving for the revelation of Jesus, to whom all glory and kingship belongs.
First Reading Daniel 7:9-10. 13-14
In Daniel’s vision, an eternal kingdom is bestowed upon someone of human appearance, perhaps reminding us of Jesus’ description of himself as the Son of Man.
Second Reading 2 Peter 1:16-19
Peter writes about his personal experience of seeing the divine nature of Jesus and of hearing God’s voice, thus authenticating his message to his readers.
Gospel Luke 9:28-36
Peter, James and John witness a revelation of the glory and majesty of Jesus, the Son of God, as he talks with Moses and Elijah.
HOMILY “This is my Son, my chosen; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35)
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord – as recorded in the Synoptic Gospels. Jesus, along with three disciples – Peter, James and John – go up a mountain when our Lord is transfigured before them: Jesus becomes radiant with light. Then the prophets Moses and Elijah appear next to him and he speaks with them. Jesus is then called "Son" by a voice from God the Father, mirroring the accounts of the Lord’s Baptism in the river Jordan.
Now I don’t know about you, but if I suddenly saw my teacher and friend shining with bright light, I may just freeze in fear – awe and trembling! I may even suspect they are being electrocuted and try and find an off-switch! But the Apostles need not have feared, although we are told that they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Of course, Jesus transfiguration is no accident and it is not a magical stunt. Our Lord, in the very act of Transfiguration, reveals to his closest disciples, and therefore to the whole of humanity, both his divinity and his humanity – his identity as part of the Trinity. Peter’s response to the scene is a typical example of his misguided enthusiasm – and perhaps our own! So, what is the appropriate response to the glory of Jesus, revealed before us? Peter thinks that making a tent for Jesus – and one for Moses and Elijah – will meet their God-given needs; after all, reflecting the scriptures which he knew all too well, tents are for the dwelling and meeting of God.
The cloud, which let’s be honest can be scary, hides from the Apostles’ sight the departure of Moses and Elijah. And God proclaims the truth, as a voice is heard from above, saying, “This is my Son, my chosen; listen to him.” (Luke 9:35) This bold command from the cloud is simple; Peter, like all of us, is to “listen to Him”. That is the simple command of God, the creator of all things: listen to Jesus.
The Transfiguration is a pivotal moment in the Gospels and the setting on the mountain is presented as the point where human nature meets God: the meeting place for the temporal and the eternal, with Jesus himself as the connecting point, revealed to the witnesses as the bridge between heaven and earth. Indeed, our Lord is just that: our salvation, our way to the Father who is the Creator of everything.
This is also the point in the Gospels where everything changes. Once the identity of Jesus as Son of God is revealed to the chosen Apostles, our Lord must make that fateful journey that leads to Jerusalem, rejection and death upon a cross, in order that all may be fulfilled and our salvation won. And we are called as disciples today to follow that same path that leads to eternal life, sharing our faith with others as we journey on; sharing the transfiguring love of Jesus for all.
But as we journey through life, are we good at listening to Jesus? Let us pause for a moment and think. Do we do what God commanded from the clouds, and listen to His voice? Here at St Mary’s Church in beautiful Thorpe we are entering a period when we need to listen very carefully to what Jesus is saying to us, as we long for our church life to be spiritually and physically transformed; as we engage in a time of renewal and mission, following our 20:20 Vision Plan. We really need to listen carefully to what God is saying to us here, through his Son our Lord Jesus Christ, if our lives, our community, our church is to be transfigured from glory to glory.
The Transfiguration is an invitation to attentive prayer, which is the proper response to glory. Peter shows his D.I.Y. skills when he offers to make tents for Moses and Elijah and the Lord. But shelters, just like our medieval church building – yes, beautiful and historic – are not the whole answer. Indeed, like Peter’s offer of D.I.Y., we can easily confuse our highest hopes for the otherness of God’s missionary purposes. On the mountain top, Jesus’ identity is revealed to his disciples, and his identity is revealed to us also. And God makes it very clear what our response to this awesome sight should be. Yes, we are called to ‘listen’ but then to ‘pray.’
If we are to truly reach out to the people of Thorpe we must first and foremost be a place of listening and prayer. Our prayer must cause us, in all aspects of our life together, to look outwards as we seek to transform lives.
Because it is through prayer that we look upon the face of Christ and discover ourselves to be loved by God, forgiven our failings and transformed by his creative glory. By looking outwards, to the world around us, the community of Thorpe in all its diversity, our faces can shine with prayer, and our presence transform the lives of many – we may be transformed, and offer transformation to others.
The promise of this story is that like Christ our faces too can be transfigured by prayer. So, in all that we are about at St Mary’s, may we pray, and “Listen to Him!” Amen.
The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36) record the events on the Mount of Transfiguration in which Jesus shines brightly and is joined by the great Old Testament heroes, Moses and Elijah.
Peter responds in the best way he can – but like the other witnesses, he is terrified by the cloud. God commands them to ‘listen to Jesus’.
We too are called to listen to Jesus as we journey through life.