Summary: A sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany Transfiguration Sunday
Last Sunday after the Epiphany
"They Saw, He Saw"
28 ¶ Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
29 And as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his raiment became dazzling white.
30 And behold, two men talked with him, Moses and Elijah,
31 who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.
32 Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, and when they wakened they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
33 And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah" --not knowing what he said.
34 As he said this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!"
36 And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silence and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.RSV
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen
"I heard a story recently about a terrible fire in a chemical plant. Several area fire departments responded to the blaze, and quite a crowd from the entire area gathered at a distance to watch. The media was there in helicopters and satellite remote trucks. The president of the company was among the crowd, and he was frantic. He gathered together the chiefs of all the fire departments and explained to them that in the midst of the inferno was a safe that contained all the company’s super-sensitive documents including the top-secret formulas for all their best-selling products. He pledged to give a $500,000 donation to the fire department that brought the blaze under control and saved all the super-sensitive documents in the safe.
The chiefs rallied their firemen and women, pulled out all the stops attempting to bring the blaze under control, but it wasn’t happening. The fire continued to rage. After quite some time the crowd heard another siren in the distance that kept growing louder. Before long this old beat up, dilapidated 1930’s style fire engine filled with a bunch of men in their 60’s and 70’s came roaring through the crowd, right past all the other fire departments. The truck didn’t even slow down as it burst through the front door of the plant and right into the middle of the blazing inferno. Everyone, firefighters, media members and the crowd just gasped thinking about what these guys did. However, before long the fire was under control and this group of aged firefighters stumbled out the front of the plant coughing. Everyone cheered their heroic effort. They saved the safe.
A few hours later in front of the gutted plant the president of the company handed the 82 year old chief a check for half a million dollars. In the press conference that followed, one reporter asked the chief what they planned to do with that incredible reward. He didn’t even hesitate. "These guys already told me they want to buy a new fire engine that has some brakes!"
I tell you that story for a couple of reasons. First of all, I thought it was funny. But more important, there is a lesson we need to learn in it. Every story, every situation, every incident has at least two levels to it. The first level is what happened, the facts of what occurred (Who, what, when, where and how). Though sometimes the bare facts are interesting if they are outrageous or off-beat, most often the bare facts of a scenario are that, pretty bare. What adds spice and interest to the facts of any situation is the motivation. It seems to me that why something happen is usually more interesting than what happened, even if what happened is a phenomenal event." 1
Something happened in our gospel lesson that was unusual, but the why of it happening is even more exciting.
Peter. James and John went with Jesus up to the mountain to pray. While they were praying, two figures appeared, Moses and Elijah. These two men talked with Jesus. about his departure, his crucification. Then a cloud came a voice which said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!".
Then they went down the mountain and said nothing about the experience.
Peter, James and John saw, but what did they see.
First they saw that Jesus was connected to their past. They saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus. They saw Jesus talking with those who had led their people many years ago. They saw the continuation of that history in this man Jesus. And they might have heard what was to happen to Jesus as he set his face to Jerusalem. They saw in Jesus God who indeed became flesh.