14 February 2010/Last Epiphany – Luke 9:28-36
The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, Saint Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, Maryland
Heading For The Light
Back at the beginning of the Epiphany Season we looked at the Baptismal Font – that eight-sided font, one side for each day of the week plus one to signify that place where we are given new life, a new day, a new way.
And as we look into that font we see stories, ancient stories of our faith. We see the breath, spirit and wind of God, God’s ruach, hovering over the face of creation. We see that same spirit dividing the Red Sea waters so that the Hebrew slaves can escape Egypt to a land of freedom – The Exodus and Passover! And we see that same ruach, that same spirit of God some to rest on Jesus like a dove as a voice from heaven proclaims, “You are my beloved, with you I am well pleased.”
The water in the font tells us these stories - stories that must never be forgotten. To forget these stories is to forget who we are. Look into the water and see all these things.
That was the beginning of Epiphany. Now it is the Last Sunday after The Epiphany, and we are on a mountain top where Jesus takes three of his friends off alone and goes to pray, just as he was doing when the voice from heaven called him God’s Beloved at his Baptism. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah are talking with him about his Exodus, translated “departure”. Jesus and his clothes are dazzling white – brighter than any light one had ever seen!
When it says they are speaking of Jesus’ “departure” the Greek word is “exodos”. And when Peter wants to build booths, it is suggestive of the Feast of the Tabernacles, a time every year when the Jewish people recall the wilderness sojourn of the Exodus. A cloud comes over the mountain recalling the pillar of cloud that led them for forty years, the cloud that enshrouded the top of Mt Sinai as God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses for the people – the basis of their covenant relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Then the voice returns. The voice we heard at Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan – reiterating, “This is my son, my Chosen; Listen to Him!”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was alone, and Peter and James and John kept silent, telling no one what they had seen or heard that day. But if there were any doubt in their minds as to who this Jesus was, it had now been made clear: God’s Chosen, God’s Beloved – Listen to him.
For any of us who wish to listen to him, we would do well to consider several things. To listen to Jesus, to really truly listen to him we need to allow him to lead us off to a place away from others. This revelation does not take place in a crowd, at the synagogue, or by the sea with lots of other people. If we are to hear God speak, we must be silent.
Secondly, once we see and hear the vision God reveals to us, we cannot stay. No time to set up booths. No time to stay in the midst of the cloud on top of the mountain. One must return to the chaos and confusion of life at the bottom of the mountain – that is where we are sent to do the things he calls us to do.
And finally what he call us to do is to be Light for the World. Note how the “You are my beloved” has changed into “This is my son, my Chosen …” Why the change? Perhaps the clue lies in his dazzling whiteness! Perhaps it is a reference to Isaiah chapter 42:
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
5Thus says God, the Lord, .. who spread out the earth,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it…
I have given you as a covenant to the people,*
a light to the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.”
This is what the aged Simeon had said to his mother Mary as she brought her baby boy to be presented at the temple, proclaiming this baby to be “a light to enlighten the nations (gentiles), for the glory of your people Israel.” (Lk 2:32)
Luke is telling us that this Jesus is God’s chosen servant, God’s Chosen in whom God’s soul delights – with whom he is well pleased. This Jesus is a covenant to the people, and a light to the nations. And just as Jesus announced in his first sermon in his hometown synagogue, he will open the eyes that are blind, free prisoners, and bring out those who sit in darkness. That is, he is the Beloved, the Chosen servant to lead us in a new Exodus.
So it is we say, Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us!
In our Baptism, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, that mystical body, the Church. We are to be a covenant to the people. We are to be a light to the nations. We are to open eyes that are blind and free those who are bound up, those who sit in darkness. That would include ourselves – we are to let Christ open our eyes and head to the light.
Jesus’ Transfiguration is to lead us to our transfiguration. Our transfiguration is to lead to the transfiguration of the whole world – the whole world God has in God’s hands.
We did not come to Jesus. We are his chosen, his Beloved, his Light, “a light to enlighten the nations (gentiles), for the glory of your people Israel.”
Allow him to take you to a place apart from all the chaos and confusion of this world. Pray with him. See and hear his vision. Be transfigured so that you can be a light to the world! Amen.