Like the disciples, we are struggling to make sense of what we have just experienced, what we continue to experience.
February 27, 2022
Luke 9: 28-36
Pastor Heather McColl
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.
Overshadowed Them Luke 9:28-36
I know I am not alone in my confusion…confusion about this text, confusion about this moment in Jesus’ life, confusion about this moment in our lives when war rages in our world, confusion about how did we get to this place which is so far from the peace filled vision of God’s Kin-dom coming to fruition here on Earth, even confusion about what it all means and how does it play out for us as people of faith.
On Thursday morning, I scoured all my usual spots on social media, looking at blogs, listening to podcasts, hoping that someone, somewhere had written something, anything making sense of it all. Whether that be the Transfiguration or the War on Ukraine, whether that be laws in Texas making care for trans kids child abuse or laws within our own state continuing to make white privilege the only acceptable way. Whether it be the grief weighing heavy on my heart after hearing about friends’ loss in their lives or our own collective grief which overshadows our community like a shroud….as I sat down to write this sermon, I hoped that someone, anyone would have figured it out and in their words, I would find solace. I would find peace. I would find meaning and direction.
Yet all I discovered were empty platitudes. All I found were outdated interpretations tied to a fixed story which no longer fit where we are as a community of faith, a culture, as a society, even where we are as a global entity at that moment. Although Call of the Midwife came close as it explored the Cuban Missile Crisis and how it affected the community of Popular in 1962.
In reviewing the information, all of which became outdated as soon as it was published on Thursday morning, on Friday morning on Saturday morning, I realized that I found myself, that we find ourselves in the exact same mindset, the exact same sense of disorientation that Peter, James and John felt on the mountain top that day all those years ago. Nothing makes sense anymore. Everything they knew, everything we knew, everything we know has fallen away. Like the disciples that day, we are faced with this looming sense of disorientation. Like the disciples, that day, we are left with more questions than answers. Like the disciples, we are struggling to make sense of what we have just experienced, what we continue to experience.
And what I need everyone to hear at this moment is that it is okay. It is okay to be overwhelmed with information, with images and not know how to process it. It is okay to feel this sense of confusion, this sense of having our world turned upside down because I think even God at this moment is shaking God’s head, wondering how we got to this place as humankind, as ones created in the image of God, as ones who proclaim the Prince of Peace to be our Savior. As people of faith, please hear me say with as much love and grace as I possibly can, it is okay to not be okay at this moment.
I say this because I know, just as the disciples discovered on that mountain top all those years ago, this looming sense of disorientation in which we find ourselves at this moment, is not the end of the story. As the disciples discovered, there is more to the journey. There is more than death and despair. There is more than wars and bombs. There is more than laws which cruelly break people down and divide us into those who are accepted and those who are not. There is more than hate which cannot understand what it means to love our enemies, what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is more than race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other label used to keep the narrative from reflecting the Kingdom of God.
As the disciples discovered on that mountain top all those years ago, there is more than a looming sense of disorientation at this moment. There is also an invitation as well…an invitation to simply be…to be silent, to pray, to wonder, to hope, to cry, to be angry. More importantly what the disciples also discovered on that mountain top all those years ago, in the looming sense of disorientation they were facing, was an invitation to listen.
And when they did, and when we do, as disciples of Christ, we hear the voice of God, a voice reminding us who we are, reminding us whose we are, reminding us again that the Kingdom of God doesn’t play by our rules, reminding us that no matter how overwhelming it might seem, we have a promise to sustain us, a promise to strengthen us, a promise which let us know that God is at work in this work, bringing healing and wholeness to all of God’s people.
This is why we need stories like the Transfiguration, to shake us up, to break us out of our routines, to wake us up to the glory of God which is always in our midst, to remind us over and over again that this world will not have the last word.
We need stories like the Transfiguration to show us that once we have experienced the glory of God in our midst, we cannot go back to the way we were before we encountered Jesus and his life transforming love. We cannot go back to seeing the world the way we saw it before. Nor do we want to. All our encounters, encounters which intertwine the holy and the ordinary, all our encounters with the Kingdom of God inspire something in us, something from us. They inspire a change in how we act. How we speak, how we interact with others. It changes our consciousness about the things we buy, about how the way we live our life affects people across the globe. The glory of God in our midst changes our very being and we cannot go about business as usual in the face of such pain, hurt, sorrow and brokenness. The glory of God calls us to listen, to be renewed, to be strengthened so that we can become the people of love, the people of justice, the people of grace this world so desperately needs us to be in this moment.
Or in the words of a wise colleague: “There is no doubt that there is much in need of healing in the world around us today, just as there was in Jesus’ day. And we are often overcome with weariness, if not outright despair. Our prayers alone won’t be enough to stop Putin, prevent another surge in COVID numbers, change the heart of the Texas governor, avoid a teachers’ strike, or protect us from any of the other stressors we are negotiating. …[But] Transfiguration, [transformation] isn’t as uncommon as we think; we just fail to notice. We are so busy staving off stress, that we forget that the world is filled with the glory of God, that we are filled with the glory of God…Instead of dismissing these moments as figments of our imaginations, perhaps we’d be better served by giving thanks for a glimpse of glory, a trickle of Transfiguration. [by letting our light shine, by inviting the light of God to fill the brokenness in our world] Then, maybe, a bit of our weariness will be lifted and we will have the energy, the faith, the hope needed to continue the works of healing in the world.”
Because as people of faith, we know something this world does not know, something this world does not want to understand, we know, we celebrate, we give thanks that Jesus came to show the world that there is another way. That Jesus came to bring new life to all of God’s creation. That Jesus came to transform the world and bring about God’s Kingdom here on Earth just as it is in heaven.. And that transfiguration, that transformation all started the moment when the voice of God said, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.”…More life changing, more life giving, and yes more dangerous words have never been spoken to us in these moments of looming disorientation.
May we find the courage and the strength to follow their invitation.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, February 27, 2022 – Overshadowed Them Luke 9:28-36