Commentary for March 6, 2011
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This text gives us the context for Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. Clearly, the Christ is “Moses Plus,” greater even than the great lawgiver. His glory will shine like that of the Lord on the holy mountain.
Taking another tack for a moment, notice that Moses and Joshua are summoned before the Lord and that, upon arrival, Moses waits for six days in the presence of God before a word is ever spoken. Talk about preparing for worship!
Most congregations would find it intolerable to wait for six minutes without some type of “action” in worship these days. We are busy, busy, busy and we don’t want to waste any time in worship just sitting around. What’s the old saying — “You get out of it what you put into it?”
Maybe we would feel a bit more transformed after worship ourselves if we took a little more time to prepare and just “wait on the Lord.”
Psalm 2 and Psalm 99
The psalm texts also lend “thickness” to the gospel text. In Psalm 2, God speaks through the generations the words affirmed of Christ: “You are my son, today I have begotten you….” Psalm 99 sets the proper tone of respect when one is called to the mountain to worship God: “The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble!“
2 Peter 1:16-21
The Apostle Peter gives his “eyewitness” account of the events that transpired on the mountain that day. He is like any person asked to repeat an incredulous tale — “No, I swear to you, I heard it myself! I know it sounds crazy, but there was a real, out-loud voice that spoke from heaven. We knew it was God!”
Our worship traditions give validity to the “personal testimony” to various degrees; Peter’s is certainly a powerful word. As preachers, what is the place in our own speaking for “personal testimony?” We never want to take center stage from the gospel, certainly, but is there a time for our people to hear from our own lives — or from the lives of others within our congregations — what we know to be true from our own experience?
You will find no shortage of commentary material on this familiar story of “The Transfiguration.” Wrestle with it, as you no doubt have and should. Dr. Chilton sets forth the idea, in the sermon that follows, that this story is, among other things, about the holiness that resides in the everyday experiences of our lives.
We are called to pay attention — snap out of it and quit looking for “the next new thing” or the “mountaintop experience” that will change our lives. Perhaps, by the very presence of the Christ among us and the Spirit in us, God IS changing our lives if we are willing to open our hearts and eyes in order to see.
by the Rev. Dr. Delmer Chilton
Almost every Saturday afternoon, I listen to the opera on the Public Radio Station.
Well, actually I don’t like opera, but I do like the idea of liking opera; deep down inside I fell like an educated person SHOULD like opera, and sooo….
It seems to me that many people are seeking after Spiritual Enlightenment in much the same way that I have been seeking Musical Enlightenment. It’s something they’ve heard about, many of the better people have had these experiences, so they believe they ought to have them too.
So, they go seeking after the next new thing; the latest prayer techniques and the different churches and the praise bands and labyrinth walks and Alpha Bible Study and the Men’s drum-beating Sweat Lodge, and I don’t know what all.
Some of this can be traced to biblical stories like today’s scripture lessons, which tell us about extra-ordinary spiritual events.
Somehow, some people are always looking for something more, something electric and kinetic and spine tingling to happen to them religiously. Which is okay, those things do happen, sometimes, to some people.
NO! Religion is about seeing, and feeling and hearing and respecting the Holy in, with and under the ordinary-ness of our daily lives.
Where are we to find the Holy? On Mountaintops and in Sweat Lodges?
The water in the font, the water in which we baptize. It’s ordinary water. It’s the same water that goes into the drinking fountain, the same water that flushes the toilet.
What makes it holy? The use makes it holy. We use it to baptize a child, we speak the promise of Christ, and in with that water we bring a new child into Covenant with God and into Community with us.
Look at this wafer. It’s just a little whole-wheat flour and water. We buy them by the thousands. It’s not very good to eat; if you’re not careful, it will stick to the roof of your mouth.
And this, it’s just wine, grapes fermented and bottled and sold at the liquor store along with Budweiser Beer and Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.
What makes it holy? What turns this ordinary stuff into the Body and Blood of Christ? Not me, I don’t have magical powers, and neither do any other pastors.
That’s what happened to Jesus up on that mountain.
And we too are ordinary people, doing ordinary things. We too, as a church, as a community of faith, as the Body of Christ in the world, we too carry in, with and under our human-ness, the brightness of the Holy-ness of God.
Our calling is to pay attention — to listen, look, feel and know that God is here, in this place, and in all our places: at home, at work, at church, at school. God is present with us in the world.