102:  Last Sun. after Epiphany Year B,Transfiguration (Feb 15, 2015)


For Sunday February 15, the last Sunday after Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday, Year B.

SHOW NOTES -  2/15/2015
Episode 102:  Last Sunday after Epiphany Year B
Image: © 1984 by Hasbro.

For Sunday, February 15, 2015
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 102 for Sunday February 15, the last Sunday after Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday, Year B.

Introduction and Check-in  

Quickfire Scripture - 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 - We do not proclaim ourselves

  • Light and glory is a common thread through the readings.
  • Short passage does a lot with metaphor of light.
  • Those that see Christ as the image of God, are unveiled.
  • Those that refuse to see God’s glory in Christ remain veiled to the truth.
  • God who created light is revealing that same glory in Christ
  • When we proclaim the good news, it is only the good news of God, as revealed in Christ.
  • What are the gods of this age that continue to blind us to God’s light?

Featured Musician -  Gillian Chen, “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” beautiful cover- you can find more of her music at https://soundcloud.com/gillian81u3.

Primary Scripture - Mark 9:2-10 - The Transfiguration
Initial Thoughts

  • Only time you or anyone else will ever use the term “transfiguration.” Christianese can be a turn-off to some, a teaching point for others.
  • “Transfiguration is an occasion of wonder and awe over the revelation of the person of God in Jesus Christ.” (Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 172)

Bible Study

  • Literary Context
    • The voice from the cloud "This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!" is a close mirror to the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness."
      • Mark 1:9-15 is reading for the first Sunday in Lent, so that phrase will be repeated for two weeks.
    • Lead up to this story:
      • Jesus predicts his death, Peter objects, Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan,” (8:33)
      • Jesus tells crowd that they must “take up their cross and follow me,” and he assures them that, “some of you standing here won’t die before they see God’s kingdom arrive in power.”
        • Is this story the response to that? Is this a taste of “God’s kingdom arriving in power”?
    • Cuts off verses 11-13 about Elijah and alluding to John the Baptist.
    • After this story: They come down from the mountain right into a squabble between other disciples and legal experts. The disciples are unable to heal a boy. Jesus does, and says, “You faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I put up with you?”
  • Moses, Elijah, and Jesus form a connection with time. Reminder that Jesus is not an isolated incident, but a part of a story of redemption.
    • That they are dressed in white that shines reveals a holiness that can barely be looked at.
  • Peter, James, and John form an inner circle of three. Same guys he took with him apart in Gethsemane. Also involved in first two call stories (Andrew gets left at bottom of mountain).
    • Peter’s response is justified.
      • Fear is sometimes the right response to God.
      • We (progressives) often do not like to think about a proper fear of God, but when faced with the power of God, fear is the only true response.
    • Peter’s response is faithful.
      • Building shrines is a way to house one of these men in preparation for the coming kingdom. Peter thought that they were going to stay and spend the night. He has no way of knowing that they aren’t sticking around. Jesus tells him otherwise.
    • Peter’s response is bad timing.
      • The coming of Moses and/or Elijah signaled the beginning of the end. Building booths was the right thing to do. The problem is that Jesus says, “Not yet. I still have to suffer and be rejected.”
      • You cannot skip over the bad parts.
  • Markan Secret and Disciples’ confusion.
    • He orders them not to tell anyone and they are confused about the concept of being raised from the dead.
    • Both are common themes in Mark. Serve as story-telling device and as a way to contrast those who were there and do not understand, and those who hear the stories, and do.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Parallel between Jesus’ baptism/transfiguration and our liturgical understanding of baptism/confirmation? Next week begins Lent, which is the season of preparation for new members. Lenten journey may begin this week, with a reminder of what lies ahead. Cannot skip the hard parts to get to the good stuff.
  • The Transfiguration reveals Jesus’ full divinity. Clothed with white, talking with Moses and Elijah, and voice from heaven leave no doubt that this is the Messiah. That he continues to go about his business as a healer and teacher reveals his utter humanity.
  • Much can be made of the three who were on the mountain, but we must also remember the other three that were there - Peter, James, and John. They were invited into this experience for a reason. They were meant to be witnesses, at the right time, of Jesus’ glory that was revealed in this encounter with God. We are invited to the same mountain, to take our place with the disciples, armed with the luxury of hindsight. We can know that it is not time to build shrines. Instead, it is time to build bridges.

Psalm Nugget with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan: Psalm 50

Secondary scripture - 2 Kings 2:1-12 - Elijah departs on a chariot of fire
Initial Thoughts

Bible Study

  • Part of a larger chiastic structure that shows the ending transfer of Prophetic leadership from Elijah to Eiisha

   A. Elijah and Elisha (E&E)  leave for Gilgal
       B. E and E at Bethel
          C. E & E at Jericho
             D. E&E cross the Jordan
                E. Elijah ascends
             D1. Elisha crosses Jordan
         C1. Elisha at Jericho
      B1. Elisha at Bethel
  A1. Elisha returns to Samaria

  • Journey:
    • Gilgal - place where the ISraelites camped after crossing the Jordan
    • Bethel - Sacred temple site (house of God) where Jacob dreams of the ladder to heaven
    • Jericho - famous victory of the Israelites over the Canaanites
    • Jordan - sacred river the Israelites parted to pass into the Promised Land
    • Undisclosed location is where the ascension occurs (outside of time and space - not unlike the Transfiguration)
    • God interrupts our lives in the most unexpected places and times
  • Elijah and Connections to Moses
    • Divides the water in two and walks on dry land (Ex 14 and Josh. 3)
    • Elisha is to Elijah as Joshua is to Moses - the inheritor
    • Neither Elijah nor Moses have tombs (unlike the Patriarchs)
  • Prophetic transition - similar to the Eli/Samuel story that came much earlier in this Ordinary/After Epiphany season
    • Elisha is not a boy- he immediately assumes the mantle of leadership (both figuratively and literally)
    • Transfer of the spirit- not Elijahs to grant because it is not Elijah’s Spirit, but God’s (the group of prophets get it wrong cf v. 15)
  • The focus of this story is as much Elisha (if not more) as Elijah
    • Elisha stays with Elijah- he has 3 chances to turn back ,but refuses to- instead he enters into the known and accompanies Elijah on his final journey
    • Call for silence - the Prophets seem like they want to “talk out” Elijah’s passing, Elisha knows and affirms what is going to happen, but also knows there is no explaining- only accompanying and being with Elijah during this time
    • Request of double portion of the spirit
      • Proper request- the eldest son’s inheritance was typically a double portion (Deuteronomy 21:17)
      • Elisha rightly perceived his inheritance as the Spirit, but it is not Elijah’s to give
    • Grief - Elisha’s faith does not insulate him from grief over ELijah’s leaving
      • dismantles the “be happy- your loved one is in a better place” platitude
  • Prophets
    • Not called to be separate from the joys and griefs of everyday life but are called into it: the grief, the accompaniment
    • Called to be vulnerable and in relationship
    • To listen, affirm and encourage the same from others (i.e. to encourage them to listen as well)

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Elisha accompanies Elijah, knowing that Elijah is going to leave him. Are we able and willing to walk with people into the unknown- knowing that death, grief and pain may be ahead?
    • Walking with people through transitions of life and faith (without trying to fix it or make it better) is a difficult but vital ministry
  • Elisha calls for silence. Maryann Mckibban Dana notes the rhythm: question, answer, silence; question, answer silence and asks “What would it look like to make this rhythm more explicit in worship?”
    • We come with questions and together seek the answers but are we willing to sit in the silence and let the story, the answers sink in without talking it to death?

Tasty Wafer of the Week!

TY listeners
Shout Out to all listeners and guests
Todd Warfield

Hey Guys,
I love what you do. One day, when I grow up, I want to be just like you.
I am going to put this thought out there, if you like it, great! Keep it. Use it. If not, just send it right back. For me, I would enjoy if the links in your show notes would open in a new tab or window. That’s it.
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Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist),  Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and Paul and Storm for our closing music, “Oh No”. This week we are actually going to close with another rendition of “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, this one recorded in 1958 by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two for an old radio show named ,”Guest Star”.


“Swing Low Sweet Chariot”, this one recorded in 1958 by Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two for an old radio show named ,”Guest Star”.