Monday, February 20, 2012
A glimpse of glory. . .
While home this summer I ran across some high school classmates – at least I think they were my high school classmates. They looked so darn old it was hard for me to tell who they were! Maybe you have had the same problem. The image I have of me is frozen in time, about 30 years out of date or so. I can see change in others for easier than I see it in myself. But it does not matter what you see, change, age, and time march on.
From the moment of our birth we are changing – aging! What a shock it is when our babies grow up so fast! In adolescence we want to increase the pace of change so the awkwardness will give way to young adulthood. For a while we are happy being there until that first person calls us sir or ma'am. From then on we long to recapture a moment in time lost. The change and decay we sing of in Abide with Me is not the change we want to believe in. Finally our teeth grind down, our eyesight grows dim, our skin sags, our hair fades to gray or white or is completely gone – Not the change we were waiting for. Not by a long shot.
It is the change of decay for which Jesus was born. He became incarnate in order to bear the burden of this unwelcome change that slowly steals our lives from us year by year by year. He is the unchanging Son of God who came to take on our humanity and to live captive to our world of change – a world foreign to Him because of sin and yet He willingly bears it for all for us. He comes to bear the decay none of us can prevent and to reveal the glorious change we cannot effect.
The King of Kings suffered in our place amid common criminals on a cross which was not His but ours. There He met the power of sin, death, and decay and bore its burden. Then in the cold darkness of the grave, He laid seemingly the victim of all that decay can take from us. Yet hidden in this weakness is a glory death cannot steal. He meets death and the grave but shows to us the glory of life stronger than death and of the grave that can claim no victory. But He does not freeze us in a moment of time. He has come for more than this. We may be content with a frozen moment but has in Him an eternity and this is the change God has prepared for us.
We glimpse that change on the Mount of Transfiguration. Here is the transformation of glory. Here is the glimpse of eternity which Jesus left to come among us and walk in this world of change and decay. Here is the blest future prepared for us by His death to kill death and His life over which death has no more power
Hidden here is the glory of our own future. As we just sang “Christ deigns to manifes today what glory shall be theirs above who joy in God with perfect love...” Jesus shone like the Son – for just a moment. But in that moment was the light of the eternal tomorrow in the context of an earthly moment. We are not what we were, but we are not yet what we shall be. The glory of transfiguration is not for Jesus but for us to see, a glimpse of future! Jesus had no confusion over His purpose, no doubt about His path, and no second thoughts about His saving journey to the cross. He needed no affirmation but His disciples did and we do, also.
His glory was tented among us, tabernacled among us. It was and is foreign to our world of change and decay but His glory triumphs over death to build for us a life without death, without sorrow, without loss. Hidden here is the promise of our own very future. He is the first born of the dead, the first fruits of the resurrection. What He is, we shall be, wearing not the changing face of this mortal flesh but the eternal face of glory. That is our hope and His promise. We dare not settle for a frozen momet . God has bigger things in store. God is preparing a whole new and an eternal future for us.
The disciples did not get much. A glimpse is all. We do not get any more. Just a glimpse. In the foretaste of the feast to come, in the relieved soul set free by the absolution, and in the flesh that dies in baptism to be raised brand new in Christ. We do not have much – just a glimpse. But it is enough. It is enough for the sorrow and struggle, trial and temptation, doubt and despair that we meet in this mortal life. We have the glimpse of our own future in this glimpse of Jesus’ own glory.
The disciples wanted to stay there with Jesus but He would not have it. They must go down the mountain. The road to glory leads through the cross. It is no different for us. We bear the cross in daily life where we struggle with the clash of a people who are not of this world anymore but live in it still. We journey not toward the unknown but in the path Jesus has led, toward the glory glimpsed in Him.
The disciples were about to face the terrible face of death and decay when the Lord of life would be claimed by the cross of death. So Jesus gives to them a glimpse of glory to carry them through the valley of the shadow. And so do we. We come here week after week and God opens heaven to shine on us the glory of sins forgiven, of lives reborn in baptismal water, of bread that is the body of Christ and win His blood. It is only a glimpse but it is enough. Just enough to carry us through the changes and chances of this mortal life to the future ours in Christ.
The Transfiguration was not a frozen moment in time but a glimpse of glory – the same glimpse God gives us in the means of grace. It was designed to lead us and guide us through the changes of this mortal life until we possess completely the eternity which Christ has prepared for us. Transfiguration is the glory we seek but it comes only through the cross. The disciples could not stay; neither can we. We are called to bear the cross as the faithful in Christ who labor amid the changes and chances of this mortal life, until Christ is fully formed within us, and wearing for now the mortal flesh until we wear the glorious flesh and blood for all eternity. Amen!
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