Sermons 2007
"Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Epiphany Last C 2007 Exodus 34:29-35; Luke 9:28-36

There’s a true story that an English Bishop told in the parishes of his diocese during his visitations one year. The story was about a visit he'd paid to a local school. One of the children asked him what his stick was for, and the bishop had thrown the question back at the children. Their answers were interesting. One thought it was a walking stick, another thought it was a stick used to hit people! But one little girl named Kim said: "I think it's a stick which a shepherd uses."

It had been the highlight of the bishop's day to see the beaming smile on Kim's face, and to see the delight of the teachers, that Kim had gotten it right when the other children had not. You see, Kim was the only child in the school with Down's Syndrome. Kim’s face and her whole being were transformed because she got the answer right. And through the bishop’s story, her brief transformation has had a lasting and transformative effect on many other people. (1)

And so we come again to the Transfiguration. The temptation, of course is to say the same old things about AHA moments, mountaintop moments, transformational moments, important as they are. But let’s take another look.

One astute observer has noted that “Some scholars believe this story has been chronologically misplaced, and rightly belongs after the resurrection, as one of the resurrection appearances. Interestingly enough, that's where the rock opera 'Jesus Christ, Superstar' places it, and the story does seem to fit very comfortably as a post-resurrection story. It seems much more likely that Jesus would be meeting with Moses and Elijah, those long dead characters from the OT, after his own death.

“So why did the gospel writers include it here, before the death and resurrection of Jesus?

“Perhaps the gospel writers see the transfiguration of Jesus as a precursor of the resurrection itself. The theme of the transfiguration seems to be that ordinary things, ordinary moments can be transformed by Jesus. The resurrection takes this theme one stage further, by showing that not only ordinary times, but also terrible times, black times, disasters -- the Crucifixion -- can be transformed by Jesus. (2)

“The first baby in the family transforms the lives of both the young couple and their wider family. A holiday can transform those who have been feeling jaded or run down. A kind word or a thoughtful act or unexpected good news can transfigure the day for the recipient. Spring sunshine can transfigure those who suffer from winter blues….

“But all these different transformations, wonderful and delightful as they are, are transient. None of them last forever. The delightful new baby may become the difficult toddler. When the holiday ends it's back to the daily grind. Spring sunshine often changes to cold rain. Work, however much it's desired, can become commonplace or tedious, or tough and tiring. Perhaps it's a mistake to expect transformations to last forever.” (3) Because it’s always back to the valleys where the real work of the Kingdom is done.

That may be true because our responses to mountaintop Aha transformational moments may be wrong. Maybe we are so busy enjoying the moment, feeling so good because we’ve had it, that we miss the meaning. Maybe we don’t take time to listen to the meaning of the moment, to the still small voice of God speaking to us inside of it.

Perhaps it’s just the odd way I have of looking at the world, but it seems to me that the silence of God is , strongest, loudest in the bright sunlit desert and in the densest fog at sea. Whenever I’ve been in the great expanse of the American southwestern desert I hear its eerie silences echoing across the stark beauty of its endless empty spaces. I become particularly contemplative in the midst of such vast emptiness. And I can easily imagine God speaking to Moses in such places.

And while it might seem strange to talk of dense fog at sea in the same way, I recall the time far out on the Chesapeake when dense fog suddenly closed in on me
in the days before GPS with nothing but a compass and dead reckoning to guide me. I was struck by the utter silence around me until I neared buoys and markers whose warning sounds could penetrate the fog, and help me set a course for safe harbor.

“Most of us, at some time another, have had transforming experiences, times when we recognize clearly that our lives are about to be, or have been, forever changed, times when we absolutely glow. How else would you explain people's uncanny ability to ask the right question at the right time, if we didn't emit some kind of glow: Are you in love? Are you expecting? Did you get a raise? Did you finally break par?

“Have you ever watched a child open a card and find money in it?,
“Have you ever watched a senior open an acceptance letter from their first pick school,
“Have you ever watched a teenager open the door after their first goodnight kiss,
“Have you ever watched a golfer after they search around the green only to find the ball in the hole,
“Have you ever watched a mother or a grandmother when she holds a new baby,
“Have you ever watched a father when he walks his daughter down the aisle?

“No words are needed, the look says it all, the glow speaks volumes: disappointment, disbelief, completeness, loneliness, awe, joy: every word is written on the face.” (4)

This morning's texts are woven in such a way that we are given a glimpse as to what it means to have a life forever changed by the knowledge and presence of God. And let us keep silent before it.


1. Janice Scott, The Transience of Transfiguration, The Village Shepherd,
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. “A Kind of Glow”, Author unknown, e Sermons Illustrations for Epiphany Last 2007