by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, February 10, 2013:
optional text: Psalm 36:5-10 or 36:9
Here we are, the final Sunday before Lent begins. Transfiguration Sunday gives us a chance to wrestle with an essential question: who is this Christ? Why worship this guy?
Do we worship Christ because of his glory? The mystical elements of Transfiguration Sunday dazzle us and threaten to overshadow the rest of the story. What a magnificent tale! Moses and Elijah appear and along with Christ, they are transformed into glowing creatures. A voice booms down reminding us of Christ's chosen and elevated status.
It's easy to understand Peter's response: we'll stay on the mountain, we'll build booths! It's easy to understand why the disciples stay quiet about this mystical experience.
Jesus then heals a child; he's a success where his disciples have failed.
Do we worship God in the hopes of harnessing this kind of transfiguring power? It's easy to understand this impulse. But the rest of the lesson for today warns us against this impulse.
Jesus know that he's on a collision course with the powers that rule the world. The disciples argue about who is greatest, and Jesus reminds him of the nature of his ministry: to be least.
For those of us who worship Christ because we want transfiguration, it's important to remember what kind of transfiguration we're going to get. We're not likely to get worldly power because we're Christians--in fact, it will be just the opposite.
Will we get healing? Maybe. Will we be creatures that glow with an otherworldly light? Metaphorically. Can we charge admission and get rich from our spiritual beliefs? Go back and reread the Gospels, and see what Jesus has to say about wealth.
Ah, Transfiguration Sunday which leads us to Mardi Gras, a few last hurrahs before the serious season of Lent, that season of ash and penitence. Let us stay here in this glow. But let us not forget the path before us, the path that brings us off the mountain and into service.