February 25, 2019
Rev. Dr. Gregory Gray is the pastor of Thompson Congregational Church in Thompson, CT.
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now 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 him. Just 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. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen;listen to him!’ When 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.?
I have been to the Holy Land a number of times now, but this past year was the first time that I ever stood on top of Mount Tabor, the traditional site of the Mountain of Transfiguration. I was leaving there, flying home on Saturday, and preaching Transfiguration Sunday very jetlagged the next day! I can’t tell you how excited I was to tell the story again this year with a new perspective. Growing up in the church I have heard many different explanations of the Transfiguration, some physical or meteorological, some theological and verging on heretical!
To get to the top of the mountain, your tour bus can only make it about halfway up. You have to leave your bus and get into a smaller shuttle that can manage the steep, narrow road that switches back and forth up the top half of the mountain. After arriving at the parking lot, you walk the last hundred yards or so to the peak, and a magical view.
As I stood on top of this mountain and looked out at the Jezreel valley floor around me, I realized the point of the Transfiguration is to be seen. We started off this season all the way back at Epiphany where Jesus is seen for who he is by the Magi. We made our way through this season reading stories about Jesus being seen by different characters, and today we close out the season with Jesus being seen in glory.
The fun part about the gospel lesson is that the disciples didn’t get it either. They tried to make sense of the situation, but if we are honest with ourselves when did a “dazzling white” Jesus ever make sense? So, they wanted to contain it. They wanted to build it a house and put walls and a roof on it, but this Jesus is bigger than that. He will not be contained in buildings. This Jesus has no time for being stuck in buildings. He is on the move!
Here we turn the page, finishing out the season of Epiphany and looking toward the season of Lent. As we begin to prepare our lives in the season to come, we realize that not every day is a mountaintop experience, but may we hold fast to the faith that we have seen Jesus on this day in his glory.
God of mountaintops, may we see you for who you are and spread the news that Jesus is on the move in our time and our place. Amen.
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kensington Congregational Church
The First Congregational Church of Kent
Congregational Church in Killingworth, UCC
First Congregational of Lebanon, UCC
Ledyard Congregational Church, UCC
This Week in History:
Mar. 1, 1872, (147 year ago) The First U.S. National Park is formed when President Grant signs a bill creating the Yellowstone Park. The act designated the 1.2 million acres as public lands preserved from "injury or spoilation, of all timer, mineral deposits, natural curiosities, or wonders within."
Starting With Scripture: February 25, 2019 , by Thomas Gregory Gray.