In just three days time I will be making the sign of the cross on people’s head with Ash and Lent will be upon us and it is with this in mind that the readings of this week, and last, conspire to give us a confidence regarding who and what Jesus is. Last week we were made confident in Jesus the Creator, Saviour and Coming back) King. This week we find ourselves watching from a distance as a theophany (‘This is my Son, listen to Him’) and Moses and Elijah (The law and the prophets) again confirm the who and what of Jesus once again.
Those around Jesus then needed to hear and see the Transfiguration to prepare them for all that was about to take place and it's exactly what we need today to give us the confidence to maintain our daily love and life and it's especially necessary for our Lenten walk.
The Old Testament reading features Elijah being taken up into heaven. The prophet pops round his patch for one last time, does a quick bit of parting the water (very reminiscent of the Moses and the Red Sea story) and then gets picked up in a frenzy of wind, horses, chariots and the like. This passage helps us to understand how big it was to have this bloke turn up to visit Jesus in what in a military setting would be regarded as a top brass conference. The three commanders standing on a hilltop carrying out some high level planning.
The New Testament reading brings a challenging tension as in the light of the Transfiguration we find what might be considered to have been some of the ultimate believers (Peter, James and John) witnessing the light. This tension is made obvious when we learn that the light is withheld from those unbelievers whom the ‘god of this age’ has blinded. Those who satan has taken captive are unable to see the light.
The task before us is surely to help remove the scales from eyes, unstop the deaf ears and free the mind to consider, discuss, and comprehend the call of God on the world. Rather than seeking first God’s kingdom the god of this age erects a shrine of a self that is rich, powerful, and possessing all it craves. Yet in having possessions many are possessed by them rather than made free! But the light shows that glory of Jesus, the Christ, such that we are changed – transfigured – by being in His presence. Realising that, how can we not commit ourselves to set the captives free bringing sight to the blind and unstopping the ears the god of this age has made deaf?
In the Transfiguration we find revelation of such immense proportion as the law, prophets and the future hope are made real and visible to hitherto uneducated men. As we look towards our journey to the cross presented to us in the Lenten disciplines of prayer, self-examination, and commitment we must also seek to discover the way forward to release those held by the god of this age.
Convinced and confident in God’s salvation made real for us in Jesus, we can approach and embrace Lent wholeheartedly and with not just ourselves in mind. So let us keep the Lenten pilgrimage with faith and hope.
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 Kings 12: 1 - 12
When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan. And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
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.
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.
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.