Saturday, February 09, 2013

8.00 homily for the Sunday before Lent, Yr C. Glimpses of glory.

It's time I had my eyes tested! After a lifetime of wearing contact lenses for short-sightedness, then a few years when I could read fine if I took off my glasses, I'm beginning to realise that any day now I'll need to put ON reading glasses...which presumably means I'll need to revert to contacts once more. So I guess I've always been aware that vision isn’t something to take for granted,- and I'm sure that I often I fail to see things clearly, or recognise them for what they are.

Today we celebrate a moment in Jesus’s ministry when his identity became almost literally blindingly obvious. Even though we have left the season of Epiphany behind us, today we hear about a true epiphany – a moment of recognition that changed everything.
There on the mountain, everything that Peter, James and John had begun to suspect about their Master, became blazingly clear in the strong and mysterious light radiating from his body and face. The disciples were permitted a glimpse of God’s transcendent glory on the face of Jesus... For a brief moment, the veil which separates the invisible from the visible, the future from the present, was lifted, and everything was wonderfully clear.No room for any doubt...Jesus is THE ONE!
They had been prepared for this by a long tradition in Jewish Scriptures. Moses had his own direct visions of shining wonder, as he encountered God on the Mountain – and the reflected radiance was such that he had to veil his own face to protect others from the glare.
Now on another mountain the disciples saw Jesus emerging from that great tradition…speaking with Moses and Elijah, his glory outshining them both.
Moses could lead the way to the Promised Land, but couldn't enter himself. Elijah could enter the heavens, but could take no one else with him.
But something greater, someone greater is here.
Jesus not only leads the way, as the pioneer of our salvation, he is the way that allows the rest of us to reach home – and his presence makes this holy ground.

Unsurprisingly, the disciples both rise to the occasion and fall characteristically flat on their faces.
They can't miss what's going on, - but their response is way off key! Peter does it again, rushing in with both feet, intent on capturing the moment. He has recognised God here, in this place on this day,- so if he can only build the right structure, he is sure he’ll be able to guarantee God’s presence forever.

Let’s build three booths….or a prayer hut….. or a Cathedral”

Wherever we have once encountered God, we want to safeguard that encounter, to pour over it like a miser turning over his gold…when really we should turn from our encounters, our faces glowing like Moses, to our own task of enlivening and enlightening the world.

The Transfiguration is a beginning, a promise of what is to come, a vision of the glory we anticipate for the whole world once Jesus' redeeming work among us in complete. But we can spot that glory here and now as well...if we only open our eyes. This week I've glimpsed it as I listened to an elderly couple tell of the care they gave to his estranged father in the final years of his life, despite health problems of their own...In a visit to another elderly couple, both grappelling with life-threatening illness, whose love and delight in one another turns an ordinary little house in Cashes Green into holy ground...and in the mutual support and dedication of the whole of the St Matthew's School community as they worked together through an OFSTED inspection...
They might not seem remarkable things to you – but I promise you, they were, for a moment or two, alive with the glory of God, brim full of His love, that changes everything...

In just 3 days Lent begins...a season to simplify our lives and refine our take time out,  to read, to pray, to deepen our relationship with God...
but may I challenge you, too, to walk with your eyes and your heart open, so that you may both see and celebrate the signs of God's glory breaking through in our world. There may be more transfiguration around than you imagine. 

1 comment:

Gaye said...

Good focus for Lent. Appreciate the images and words.