​153: Transfiguration Sunday C (Feb. 7, 2016)


153: Transfiguration Sunday C (Feb. 7, 2016)

image: Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Church_of_Transfiguration_Mount_Tabor200704.JPG

Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Transfigure Me” recorded by Rob Leveridge at SHIFT: A Musical Gathering for the Progressive Christian Movement 2013

Episode 153 Transfiguration Sunday- (Feb 7, 2016)

Hello and welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, the lectionary podcast for preachers, seekers and Bible geeks. This is episode 153 for Sunday February 7, 2016. Transfiguration Sunday or the Last Sunday after Epiphany, Year C.

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Rob Leveridge has a new album: Sacred Days. Sacred Days is a collection of songs written for specific occasions. Each speaks to a milestone moment in the life of faith.
  • 3 year anniversary!!!!

    • Call in with thoughts and comments on the show and the Lectionary: 92-92-PULPIT (929-278-5748)!
    • Or record a voice memo and send it to show@pulpitfiction.us

Quick-Fire Scripture:  2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 The Spirit of Freedom

  • Trump’s favorite Scripture - Two Corinthians 3:17

    • He quoted this passage in his speech at Liberty University. Classic case of proof-texting because it used the word “freedom.”
    • A lot can be made of this passage - if you tread into political waters.
  • References to Moses’ veil are a clear allusion to the Exodus passage. Must do some work to figure out why Moses wore a veil. So if you’re going to preach from this text, you should stay tuned to our discussion of Exodus 34.
  • God’s glory is so great that it transforms people, and if they aren’t ready for it, it can be dangerous.
  • Paul is encouraging the people that they can now see God clearly.
  • Before, they had to be veiled because God’s glory was too much for anyone to take. Now, because of Christ, we can see.
  • Christ reveals to us God’s glory, so we no longer need to be veiled. We no longer need to hide or be hidden because God’s grace is perfect.

Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Transfigure Me” recorded by Rob Leveridge at SHIFT: A Musical Gathering for the Progressive Christian Movement 2013

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Gospel Reading: Luke 9:28-36 (37-43) Jesus transformed on the mountaintop (and comes back down)
Initial Thoughts

  • Transfiguration Sunday: Why is this a thing?

    • UMC Discipleship article gives two reasons:

      1. “We celebrate the revelation of Christ's glory "before the passion" so that we may ‘be strengthened to bear our cross and be changed into his likeness.’ The focus of the Lenten season is renewed discipline in walking in the way of the cross and rediscovery of the baptismal renunciation of evil and sin and our daily adherence to Christ”
      2. “In the biblical context, the synoptic gospels narrate the Transfiguration as a bridge between Jesus' public ministry and his passion. From the time of the Transfiguration, Jesus sets his face to go to Jerusalem and the cross.”
    • “In the East, the Festival of the Transfiguration has been celebrated since the late fourth century, and is one of the twelve great festivals of the East Orthodox calendar. In the West it was observed after the ninth century by some monastic orders, and in 1457 Pope Callistus III ordered its general observance. At the time of the Reformation, it was still felt in some countries to be a "recent innovation," and so was not immediately taken over into most Reformation calendars, but is now found on most calendars that have been revised in the twentieth century. A recent tendency in the West is to commemorate the Transfiguration on the Sunday just before Lent, in accordance with the pattern found in the Synoptics, where Jesus is represented as beginning to speak of his forthcoming death just about the time of the Transfiguration, so that it forms a fitting transition between the Epiphany season, in which Christ makes himself known, and the Lenten season, in which he prepares the disciples for what lies ahead. Whether observing the Transfiguration then will affect the observation of it on 6 August remains to be seen.” Society of Archbishop Justus

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • Eight days after Jesus asking “Who do crowds say that I am?” and disciples saying John the Baptist, Elijah, or another ancient prophet. Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ. Then Jesus warns of the rejection, death, and resurrection that is to come.

      • “Take up your cross and follow me”
      • No Peter denying this and no “get behind me Satan”
    • Immediately before another warning about arrest and Jesus “determined to go to Jerusalem.”
    • Transition between Galilean ministry and journey to Jerusalem and Passion.

      • This Sunday is the transition between birth and Epiphany stories and Lent.
    • Named one of Five pivotal events of Jesus’ life Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension.
  • Two parts - The Transfiguration itself, and coming down.

    • 28-35 Jesus took Peter, John, and James up to a mountain to pray.

      • “On Eighth Day” could be allusion to Resurrection, which happened on the ‘eighth day’ - the day after the Sabbath. Also could be seen as the second ‘First Day.’ The start of a new week, a new creation.

        • Answers old joke about “What did God do on the eighth day?”
      • Inner circle is a good lesson for leadership in church.

        • Matthew and Mark say these three were also pulled aside as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. Not mentioned in Luke’s passion.
      • Fred Craddock points out that “As he was praying” confirms Jesus’ prayer life as an important part of his ministry. Linked to his baptism in 3:21, where the Spirit comes “while he was praying.”
      • Moses and Elijah

        • The Law and the Prophets
        • Both men had mysterious deaths

          • Moses was buried by the Lord, and ‘no one knows where Moses’s grave is.” (Deut. 34:6)
          • Elijah was taken up by a chariot in 2 Kings 2:1-11
        • Only Luke tells us that they talk about “Jesus’ departure” interpreters say “Jesus’ exodus in Jerusalem.”
        • Much of this action is reminiscent of Moses on Sinai.
      • Disciples: Want to build a shrine to all three.

        • Had already confessed Jesus as Messiah, but now see him in all his glory.
        • Almost overcome by sleep (like in Gethsemane, or almost fainted out of sheer terror)
        • No shrine, must keep moving.
        • No longer about all three - but must listen to Jesus. It is through Jesus, God’s son, that we must now understand Moses and Elijah. Jesus is the lens through which we read and know the Law and the Prophets.
        • Of course, we built a church there. Peter ended up getting his way.
    • 36-43 A strong argument can be made - by Craddock - that the Transfiguration should stand alone. Telling this story afterwards can lessen the impact of what just happened.

      • Text after 37 really fits more with stuff until 50, when Jesus actually sets out for Jerusalem.

Sermon Thoughts and Questions:

  • Fred Craddock (Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching: Luke): “Passages on which one has prepared or heard with some frequency sermons or lessons are often the most difficult to read or to hear. The account of Jesus’ transfiguration may be such a text. For example, who has not heard interpretations of the transfiguration joined with the following story of a healing that offered a ‘mountaintop experience,’ followed by the admonition to ‘come down to the valley of service’? That there is truth to the analysis that life’s rhythm consists of occasions of inspiration in the presence of God followed by occasions of routine and pedestrian duty is not to be contradicted. That pastors need to address with both correction and encouragement those who experience religion as totally one or the other is widely confirmed. However, the text and the context of Jesus’ transfiguration vigorously resist such a use of this passage.” (Craddock, p. 132)

    • Jesus’ exodus is fraught with pain, rejection, and death.
    • “This is a mountaintop experience but not the kind about which persons write glowingly of sunrises, soft breezes, warm friends, music, and quiet time. On this mountain the subject is death, and the frightening presence of God reduces those present to silence.” (Craddock, p. 133)
  • Frederick Buechner: “It is as strange a scene as there is in the Gospels. Even without the voice from the cloud to explain it, they had no doubt what they were witnessing. It was Jesus of Nazareth all right, the man they'd tramped many a dusty mile with, whose mother and brothers they knew, the one they'd seen as hungry, tired, and footsore as the rest of them. But it was also the Messiah, the Christ, in his glory. It was the holiness of the man shining through his humanness, his face so afire with it they were almost blinded.

“Even with us something like that happens once in awhile. The face of a man walking with his child in the park, of a woman baking bread, of sometimes even the unlikeliest person listening to a concert, say, or standing barefoot in the sand watching the waves roll in, or just having a beer at a Saturday baseball game in July. Every once and so often, something so touching, so incandescent, so alive transfigures the human face that it's almost beyond bearing.”

Psalm Nugget: Psalm 99 with Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist)

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Second Reading: Exodus 34:29-35 The giving of the Law
Initial Thoughts

  • I give it a 1/10 shot at getting preached this Sunday
  • Seems to be a weird Moses/ Shiny connection
  • Horny Moses! - Shining rays or horns- awkward translation

Bible Study

  • Context:

    • Moses received the 10 Commandments
    • Moses comes down the mountain to deliver them to the Hebrews and find them worshipping the Golden Calf
    • Moses destroys the 2 tablets
    • God threatens to destroy the Hebrew people and start over
    • Moses reminds God of God’s promise
    • God sends a plague instead
    • God banishes the Hebrews from Sinai, but then calls Moses back to make a new covenant

      • God will forgive Israel and grant them the Promised Land, but they must remain faithful (no other Gods, observe festivals and rituals, dedicate offerings to God, Don’t eat cheeseburgers, etc)
    • Right after Moses peeks at God’s butt (Ex. 33:23)
  • Glory of the Lord

    • Beautiful and Terrifying (Eric is reminded of Galadriel from Lord of the Rings, “All shall love me and despair”)
    • Moses’ shining face is a reflection of the God’s glory, not his own

      • Not about Moses, but about God
      • Terrifying because it acknowledges that God, but Moses (or us or the church) is in control

        • The light of God reveals falsehood, deception, oppression and manipulation (all of which were embodied in the Golden Calf)
      • Liberating because we are only to reflect the glory of God
  • Relationship has changed- the people can no longer see God- Only Moses can see God (Ex. 33:11) Moses reveals God to the people who have been cast out of God’s presence

    • Moses shining face is a reminder of both the judgment and grace of God

      • Judgment- God no longer travels with them
      • Grace- “the residue to God’s steadfast love for Israel, his faithfulness to them in the face of betrayal and even death, and his gift of a dignity and honor they did not choose and would never have chosen for themselves.” - Thomas W. Currie Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary - Feasting on the Word – Year C, Volume 1: Advent through Transfiguration.
    • How might we as individuals and churches allow the presence of God to shine through us to those who cannot see/feel it?
  • “May the Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you”

    • Connection to the best known benediction- what does it mean to have God’s face shine upon you? It is the promise of God’s love and grace
  • Moses’ face shines when he goes to spend time with God alone - how often do we take the time to spend with God alone?

    • If we don't are we truly able to reflect the glory of God? Are we able to shine as brightly as we should?
  • "We should not think that holiness is based on what we do but rather on what we are, for it is not our works that sanctify us, but who sanctifies our works." Meister Eckhart

Sermon Thoughts and Questions

  • How do we balance sharing our own glory vs God’s glory? Do we as individuals and churches proclaim that it is God’s glory that shines through us? If it is God’s glory and not our own- how does this free and terrify us?
  • There are times when people cannot see God except through us. What God are you showing to them?
  • Too often prayer times gets consumed by other “more important” aspects of ministry- is there any more important aspect? Without our time with God are we truly able to shine as God intends?

Tasty Wafer of the Week:

Thank you listeners and

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Featured Musician - Christopher Grundy, “Transfigure Me” recorded by Rob Leveridge at SHIFT: A Musical Gathering for the Progressive Christian Movement 2013

Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com, @pomopsalmist). Thank you to 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(“Nola’s First Dance” from their album Lay Down, Lay Low) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”)