The Last Sunday after Epiphany E. Bevan Stanley February 27, 2022 Year C Exodus 34:29-35 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a] Psalm 99 This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him. In the Name of the one, holy, and undivided Trinity. Amen. This story of the Transfiguration is a key turning point in the narrative of the first three Gospels. This story runs us through so many changes of emotion it feels like whiplash. First Jesus takes his three most trusted disciples with him up a mountain to pray. I imagine Peter, James, and John being pleased that they were chosen. A little excited, and also ready to quiet their thoughts and put themselves at God’s disposal. On the mountain, suddenly Jesus changes right in front of them. His face changes and his clothes become dazzling white. Astonishment and wonder must have fallen upon the three disciples. Then Moses and Elijah appear in glory. We are not told what that looks like, but surely it is impressive. Yet Moses, Elijah, and Jesus are not talking about victory but about Jesus departure which they expect to occur in Jerusalem. This is worrisome. The disciples were weighed down with sleep. Why? Did all this take place at night? Nevertheless, they manage to stay awake and see the glory of Jesus and the two men standing with him. Peter feels the importance of the occasion and want to memorialize it by building three booths. But these are temporary shelters not designed to last. So what is the point of that? Maybe Peter has in mind the Feast of Booths or Succoth in the fall which is a harvest festival. Is Peter sensing that Jesus upcoming departure is a kind of harvest or reaping? Or that Jesus will be the reaper as in some of the parables? The text says that Peter did not know what he was saying, so maybe this is a spontaneous gushing from his right brain or his subconscious, an expression of a truth that is not totally coherent. Then a cloud comes and overshadows the disciples. The word “overshadow” used in only one other place in the New Testament. It is how Gabriel describes to Mary how she will conceive. He says the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. Unlike the young woman, these three men are terrified as they entered the cloud or as the cloud overshadowed them. Then a voice come from the cloud. The word “cloud” is used three times in three sentences. The voice says, This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him.” Then suddenly all is back to normal. No cloud, Moses and Elijah gone, and Jesus back in his street clothes. This was all so weird that the disciples kept it to themselves. They did not want everyone thinking they were nuts. Then Luke places the incident of the healing of the demon possessed boy right after the Transfiguration. Jesus appears to be exasperated by the failure of the disciples to heal the boy of by the father’s insistence that only Jesus can do the healing. It’s not clear which; maybe both. I do not know what to make of all this. Clearly the experience on the mountain top is meant to encourage the disciples as Jesus heads towards conflict, opposition, and death. They at least are to know who Jesus really is. Perhaps the overshadowing is also supposed work a change in them as it did to Mary. Maybe they are now empowered to bring the messiah to the world in proclamation. Maybe that proclamation of Jesus by the disciples is supposed include the defeat of the devil and all powers of evil, and the disciples could not pull it off. For us this story comes to us as the season of Epiphany, the time of manifestations ends, and we turn our face toward Jerusalem and the drama that awaits us there. On Wednesday we begin our annual journey that begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Holy Week. We are given a vision to strengthen us to face the challenges ahead. We overshadowed by the Holy Spirit so that we can manifest the reality of the Kingdom of God. Yet we do not talk about our experience, but simply follow Jesus to a death that leads to victory and glory. It is no wonder that we are afraid and excited. Awed and overwhelmed. Strengthened to endure and willing to give up everything to gain everything. You and I, my friends are facing big changes. There are signs of hope that the COVID-19 pandemic is finally starting to wind down. There is a new war in the Ukraine that will have global repercussions. You and I are coming to a parting of the ways. We all need to hang on to the vision. Or if we cannot do that, we hang on to the knowledge that there was a vision. We come down from the mountain with a new resolve to follow Jesus wherever that impossible man will lead us. We do it because we can no other. We do it because Jesus is the only game in town. Where else can we go? He has the words of life. And what does he say? The Iona Community in Scotland offers this summary: Jesus says: My peace I give to you. Do not be afraid. I call you my friend. Abide in my love. Even the hairs of your head are numbered. Follow me. I am the way for you. I am the life for you. I am the truth for you. Blessed are your eyes for they see. You are my witness. You are my brother. I am hungry, give me food. I am in prison, come to me. I am thirsty, give me drink. I am a stranger, welcome me. I am naked, clothe me. I am sick, visit me. Abide in me and I in you. I will drink wine with you in the Kingdom of God. You will shine like the sun. You are in me and I in you. Ask and it will be given you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. I am the vine, your are the branch. I will give you rest. You are the light of the world. You are the salt of the earth. You are my sister. Give and it will be given to you. The truth will make you free. Feed my sheep. Watch and pray. I am with you always. We remember the glory. We remember the cloud. And we remember the voice: This is my Son, the Chosen; listen to him.