Summary: Year C The TRANSFIGURATION OF OUR LORD February 25th, 2001


February 25th, 2001

Lord of the Lake Lutheran Church

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By The Rev. Jerry Morrissey, Esq., Pastor


Heavenly Father thank you for the glimpse of glory, a sneak peak, a preview of the resurrected life. Amen.

Title: “Transfiguration”

Luke 9:28-36

Everyone has insights, experiences wherein the veil of ordinariness is briefly rolled back and we see into an object or a person or an event. We see it or him or her, them, in a way we never saw it before. We see it in a broader context than what maybe others seeing the same things do not see. We might really see the beauty of a flower, a flower we had looked at a hundred times before, but now it is its extraordinariness we grasp. We may see the truth of something or someone, a truth that had up till then eluded us. We may see the goodness of a person or an event, a goodness others might not only not see, but actually see as bad. All these experiences are insights into reality without the external appearances of the reality being changed. The change takes place in the person who is doing the perceiving.

Certainly the Transfiguration scene was an insight. But it was more than that. First of all, three people not counting Jesus, Moses and Elijah, had the same experience at the same time. While that experience was an insight into the real Jesus, it was also a physical vision of an objectively changed reality, changed before their physical eyes and not merely their faith eyes. Since they would have been able to ask each other, “Did you see what I saw?” and get the same answer, we can conclude that this was an experience on level one, the level of earth, time, space, the physical level. Yet, at the same time, the fact that they all heard the heavenly voice, the same voice and message Jesus heard at his baptism, means that this experience, though physical, was also a spiritual one, one that entered and affected their inner beings. Clearly, this was a preview of, a sneak peak at, a sampling of the resurrected life. That life will be physical in some yet-to-be-disclosed way. What is disclosed here is that our bodies will be transformed to fit the divine realm but not so transformed that we will not be able to communicate or to be recognized as the unique individual we are. At the same time, that life will be, what is the best word for it? Supernatural, numinous, physical without being solid. What is now perceived as “ordinary,” that is, without glory, will then glow. There will be no need for insight then, for reality will not be hidden but glorious, radiant, revealed, obvious. There will be no need for faith either, for all will be seen in all its dimensions simultaneously.

So, for all their vision of reality of Jesus as it, he, really is, the disciples still need faith, insight, for the time being. The three disciples had a religious experience, one in which the ordinariness of reality took on a dimension of splendor, everything was seen under a bright light, its hidden glory became visible to both the naked eye and the eye of faith. Great as it was, it did not last. They got a glimpse of glory, a sneak peak, a preview of resurrected life, but only for a brief moment. Alas, they would have to come down from this mountain experience and live once again on the molehill of ordinary time. And in ordinary time they will learn they always have the Word with them, the glory of God contained and hidden in the express mind and will of God. The same glorious reality they experienced on the mountain is present on the molehill, just as real and potentially powerful if they would but listen. Seeing the divine is reserved for heaven and very special earthly occasions, but hearing the divine in the Word of God is always possible and available.

“Mountain” experiences, “religious” experiences, “aesthetic” experiences, “truth” experiences cannot be conjured up. There is no known method to produce them. They are gifts that are given to us at the moment. But they can be remembered. They can help us to, know intuitively, the glory hidden in the ordinary and help to bring it out, but they cannot substitute for the Word which is always present and which needs to be brought out in actions and attitudes. We sometimes pray for God to reveal himself visibly, to confirm our trust by a visible, emotionally felt sign. This story teaches that even if he did - and he sometimes does- it would not make much difference. If we have a “mountain” experience, remembering it will make a difference. It will strengthen our faith and our resolve as it enables us to see the end point. But remembering the Word, however, will do the same thing. “Mountain” experiences are nice but unnecessary. Visions are no substitute for faith in the Word. With the brutal realism of Jesus we are to listen to him and follow in his steps, confident that what the disciples saw - the hidden glory that Jesus always had- we shall see and experience at the eternal Easter. For God is always present and present everywhere. Seen or not, God was always present in Jesus, as Jesus is now in us. Jesus was intensely, always and everywhere, aware of the divine presence within him, even though we are not. Awareness of the really real fueled Jesus’ actions and informed his attitudes. The same Jesus who was revealed in transfigured glory is present in his revealed Word, as is the same divine glory.

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Leron West

commented on Feb 18, 2007

Thanks for this excellent treatise on The Transfiguration. God Bless You.

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