Introduction to the readings for Transfiguration Sunday
This morning both of our stories from our ancient scripture texts provide opportunities to contemplate how God is revealed in mountain top experiences that transform not only the lives of key leaders, but also prepare them for their leadership in the communities they serve. We begin with a story from the Hebrew bible and the book of Exodus, Chapter 34, verses 29-35-Moses is radiant as he comes down the mountain
“Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.
When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.
But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them.
Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mt. Sinai.
When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Moses assembled all the congregation of the Israelites and said to them:
These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do: … (pause)
Here ends our first lesson from scripture this morning.
Just as it informed the lives of our ancient faith ancestors and those early listeners to the text, may it also bring new understanding to our own lives as leaders and followers in the Way.
We are invited to offer a responsive psalm of thanksgiving to our reading from the Hebrew bible. Turning to VU p. 819, we read responsively from Psalm 99 beginning with the sung refrain:
You rule with justice in delight, and faithfulness maintain
Our gospel reading this morning is taken from the mid portion of Chapter nine of the gospel according to Luke. The text for today follows on after a series of comments from Jesus about discipleship and call and the story of the feeding of the 5000. This particular story fits well with our church calendar as we complete the cycle of stories about light in the season of Epiphany.
Listen with care for how this story of transformation and light might inform your faith journey standing as we are on the cusp of the more sombre season of Lent, the time in our church year when we hear stories of Jesus and his journey to the cross at Jerusalem.
Reading from the ninth chapter of Luke, verses 28-36
Jesus is transfigured upon the mountain
“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 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.
Through our shared experience of these words from long ago, may we hear God’s living Word. May it be so. Amen.