Transfiguration and Mountain Climbing


This Sunday is the last Sunday of Epiphany. It is known as “The Transfiguration of Our Lord Sunday.” All of the assigned lectionary scriptures for this Sunday have a mountain theme in which significant events in the Bible are recalled as taking place on mountains. In the Old Testament and Gospel lessons, the main characters in the scripture text (Moses and Jesus) both experienced a change in their physical appearance. However, in the gospel text, when it comes down to who was really being transfigured, it makes me wonder “Who Really Changed.” Perhaps it was the disciples and their perspective on spiritual matters that received the greatest transfiguration. After all, Hebrews 13:8 says of Jesus, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Laurel A. Dykstra, a scripture and justice educator living in Vancouver, British Columbia, wrote the following in an article for Sojourners Magazine: “My first night at Guadalupe House, a Catholic Worker “transition house” where I spent nearly 10 years, I sat at the wobbly-legged table amid a circle of men’s faces, black and brown and white, and looked at the peeling linoleum, tattered sheer yellow curtains, broken couches, and roach-filled corners. I had never seen a place so ugly. After a week of hospitality, laughter, community, and connection, I sat in the same seat and caught myself thinking, ‘What a kind and homey room this is.’ Transfigured.”

So I wonder: In Matthew’s story of the mountain, was it Jesus who changed or was it that John, James, and Peter could now see the face of God shining in the man they knew? Did the thin air and the elevated perspective contribute to their clarity of vision? When they came down from the mountaintop did they take their new capacity to see, into the low places and crowded city streets? Can we? And when we see the face of God shining through those who are familiar to us, do we truly, deeply listen to them?

Join us at Covenant for worship this “Transfiguration of our Lord Sunday” as we will be doing a little mountain climbing in our faith. Perhaps we’ll find answers to some of these questions above. Just maybe it will be us that will really be transfigured. I’ll be preaching a sermon called “Transfiguration and Mountain Climbing,” based on the scriptural test of “Exodus 24:12-18” and “Matthew 17:1-9.”



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