Sunday, March 6, 2011

Transfiguration Thoughts...

There are so many things about The Transfiguration of Our Lord that could be said.  Some of them I will say in my homily this morning.  It strikes me, though, that one application is directly tied to what happens in the Divine Service.  In one sense, we are brought to the mountain top with Jesus, with Moses, and with Elijah each Sunday.  The Law and the Prophets point us to Jesus.  The glory of Jesus is there -- in the bread of His flesh and the cup of His blood.  In one sense it is still a glory enshrouded until the day when the veil will be fully lifted and in another sense it is not hidden at all but found in the surprise of the ordinary earthly elements that convey this heavenly grace.  And part of us wants to stay.  "Too soon the vessels disappear," says the wonderful hymn.  Yes, too soon it is all over -- the height and wonder, the mystery and our participation.  We would stay (with Peter) but we cannot.  We must go, as Jesus bids us, down the mountain and back to the domain where we bear the cross for His glory.  And the miracle of it all is that the Spirit's gift to us, as it was to the disciples who accompanied Jesus up that mountain so long ago, is that we see Jesus clearly and see Jesus only.

The disciples would have everything in them tested by what they would see on the cross.  No words or works of Jesus could fully prepare them for the brutal agony of His death, for the betrayal of the inner circle by Judas, or by the surprise waiting in the garden of the tomb.  So Jesus gives them a glimpse of that glory hidden in His flesh and blood so that they may see Him clearly and see Him only as they journey with Him to the cross.  It was a gift and blessing to them as well as the revelation that all of Scripture (the Law and the Prophets) speaks to, points to, and is fulfilled by Jesus.  He is the body in its cradle of revelation, wisdom, and truth and apart from Him it is but a book of words.  He is the power who gives that Word the grace to do what it promises and to accomplish its holy purpose with the success of the Father as its mission -- just as Jesus does.

It is a shame that so many come to Church and yet remain aloof or distant from this mountain top experience.  We used the Epiphany Eucharistic Prayer from the Hymnal Supplement 98 and I love the way it draws together the Incarnation, the Epiphany, the Transfiguration, AND what happens at the Table of the Lord. 

As you filled Your ancient temple
     with the glory of Your presence,
  so at the incarnation of Your only-begotten Son,
      You wrapped the fullness of Your glory in human flesh.
We give You thanks
   that You reveal that glory to us
      in the body and blood of Your own dear Son,
      given us to eat and drink for the forgiveness of our sins.
Grant us faithfully
   to receive His gracious presence among us,
      that we may one day
         behold His glory face to face...

And here we are... setting aside our Alleluias for a time, to walk with Jesus the journey to the cross where He reveals the glory hidden there in the surprise of obedience that makes the rebel sinner righteous, of suffering that gives him relief, of death that gives him life, and of life that cannot be taken again from him again...  Ahhh, there is much in the Transfiguration to prick and prod us during the Divine Service... I just pray we can catch part of it today...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boy, I wish our LCMS church would have concentrated on the Transfiguration in today's service by conducting a Divine Service ... nope, we had to ask the question in that contemporary hymn "Are you here Lord? We are here." Okay, maybe not an exact translation, but that's what it felt like we were singing instead of KNOWING God was amongst us!