Sunday, 15 February 2015

Can't make it to church? 15th February 15

Today's Gospel account sees Peter James and John climb a mountain - physically and figuratively -  as we read of what we call in the Church 'the transfiguration'. Forget the hill climbing aspect, that's merely exertion, but this is about God turning up and giving the thumbs up to Jesus as He (God) affirms Him to be 'His Son'. Not only that but like so many of the bands of the 60's with their interminable 'final tour' - here we have the boys back together again as we Jesus is joined by a couple of heroes of the Jewish faith: Moses and Elijah.

This is the moment when the button is pressed and the roller coaster that takes us to an upper room and a 'last supper' through to Temple and Herod's palace and Pilate's residence and a hill where a cross lies silently waiting for the last phase of God's redemption for us to be enacted. Peter has already recognised Jesus as the Messiah (God's anointed one) and now the final phase begins and Jerusalem beckons.

I always find this just a little sad because for these three blokes being up the mountain with the Messiah, the prophet and the law-giver I would have thought it was all solid and settled - that nothing could shake them off of the task before them and yet, as Peter so clearly shows, courage is often something that deserts us even when we know what it is all about. But it is also a thing of encouragement for it shows just how weak we are and how strong Jesus is in doing the stuff for us.

When God is encountered we too are transformed - when the glory falls and the moment is before us we are changed - and yet like Peter who tried to keep the moment going by offering to build shelters - and we need to live in that moment to take us forward rather than remain static and enjoy the moment. This is where so many of us Christians fall short because we try to live in that moment of glory, joy, excitement or whatever it was that rang our bell rather than use it as a springboard into even greater things. This is the reason congregations stagnate and die as they seek to keep what they had rather than grasp what they can have - but that's not me or you now, is it?

Peter tries to do exactly that when he recognises who Jesus is and then tries to deflect Him from the journey and all that that means (that 'get behind me satan' moment). Quite naturally he wants it to keep on rather than come to a bloody and awful end - natural, innit? And for Peter it will take a cock crowing to make it all make sense - whilst for us it's the benefit of hindsight and generally painless Christianity!

Yet for those outside, the words of 2 Corinthians ring so very true as the god of this age blinds the eyes and confuses the minds of those who consider themselves wise and rational and clear-thinking. But then we would say that wouldn't they - and so would they say what they thing as being true too, for those who are far off have integrity and, even though they don't realise it, are still under God's love, care and blessing. The problem is that all sides see God as some universal slot machine doling out blessing and prosperity and long-life and stuff. Problem is that there;s no promise that life won't be naff because you believe - only that you won't go through it alone :-)

So here we are at the start of Lent and called to realise who Jesus is and to forget self, carry our cross and follow Him - and as we do we will truly find that, 'God shines his light into our hearts, to bring us the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ' - just like that which Peter James and John saw up that mountain.

Just like that which we see in the sacrifice of the cross

So here we are at the start line - For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as His servants for Jesus’ sake - coming with us on the journey?

The Collect
Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross:
Give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; Who is alive and reigns with you, In the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God, now and for ever. Amen.

2 Kings1.1-12
Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.

“You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours - otherwise not.” 

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” 

And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart.
2 Corinthians 4.3-6
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Mark 9.2-9
After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.

His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

The Post Communion Prayer
Holy God, we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
May we who are partakers at his table reflect his life in word and deed,
That all the world may know his power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And something to listen to as you perhaps engage in a moment of reflection:

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