Tag Archives: transfiguration

Hear, Obey, and Follow

By the Rev. Darren Miner

Bible Readings

Today is the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and the story of the Transfiguration completes the season by bringing us back full circle to the theme of manifestation. (As you may know, the English word epiphany derives from the Greek word for manifestation.) The season started on the Feast of the Epiphany with the story of the Magi, symbolizing the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. Today’s Gospel story deals with another epiphany, the divine manifestation of Christ to his three closest disciples.

the-transfiguration-1520This year, we hear Matthew’s account. And in some ways, his version is the least difficult. In the other accounts, it’s not clear how we are meant to understand this story. Is it real? Is it describing something factual that any bystander would have been able to witness? Matthew’s Gospel helps us here. In this Gospel, Jesus himself refers to what has occurred as a “vision.” Is it real? Yes, but on a level of reality that transcends the everyday. Would any bystander who was at hand have been able to witness this event? Maybe not. Divine visions often belong to the realm of private mystical experience.

moses-receiving-the-tablets-of-law-1966Given that the Transfiguration story is a vision, we should not be surprised by the occurrence of symbolism that requires interpretation. And we find such symbolism in the very first words of the account. The Gospel reading starts by telling us that six days after the Confession of Peter, Jesus takes his three closest disciples to a mountain top. Now in the Old Testament, many numbers had special numerological significance. But 6 isn’t one of them. There is only one place where the number 6 has a special significance—in the story of Moses on Mt. Sinai that we heard read in the first reading. For six days, a cloud covered Mt. Sinai; on the seventh day, God spoke to Moses from the cloud. In the story of the Transfiguration, the very timing of the event has symbolic significance. It hints that what is about to happen is as momentous as the giving of the Law to Moses.

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Open to Glory

A sermon preached by Christopher L. Webber on the Last Sunday after Epiphany, February 15, 2015, at the Church of the Incarnation, San Francisco.

Lectionary Readings

A number of years ago my brother and I and some of our children set out to climb Mt. Marcy which is in the Adirondacks, and the highest mountain in the state of New York. just over a mile high.  The peak of Marcy is over 5,000 ft above sea level.  The surface of Lake Tahoe is over 6,000 fet above sea level, but you can get to Lake Tahoe by car and you have to walk to get to the top of Marcy.

We planned a three day trip: one day to get near the peak, a second day to climb it, and a third day to get back out.  The first day was gray and overcast and as we got near our planned Seaver_Marcy_445campsite it began to rain.  A discouraging start, but the next day was bright and clear.  We reached the peak in time for lunch and it was one of those days when it really seemed you could see for ever. Vermont to the east, Canada to the north; except for the curve of the earth we could probably have seen Tahoe to the west. The third day it rained again and we hiked out through a drenching downpour, but we had that one perfect day on top of the mountain and the memory of it still shines, still has a kind of glow.

Mountain tops are made for seeing. Hillary said he wanted to climb Mt Everest “because it was there,” but I think the real attraction of mountain climbing is that feeling of unlimited vision, that sense of having a totally new perspective on the world and its problems.  You can see in all directions, and there’s a new, far clearer sense of the relationship between places – Canada, California, Connecticut – and the relationship between ourselves and our world, and between ourselves, humankind, and God. All of that is, as we say, “enlightening.” It’s not just that mountain tops are places of light, of sunshine and clear air, but I think we could say that they throw light on our world and on our own lives, showing us, revealing to us, a new, clearer understanding of life, of our lives, of meaning and purpose.

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