Transfiguration

If I were to ask you where Jesus was born, you would say Bethlehem.

Which town he grew up in? Nazareth.

Where he died ? - Golgotha

Which river he was baptised in? - The Jordan

Which sea he walked upon and taught upon, the Sea of Galilee

But look at our gospel today, the mountain upon which Jesus was transfigured, has no name. It is called the sacred mountain, and usually identified as Mount Hermon or Tabor. A more likely suggestion is Mount Meron, which lies between Caesarea Phillipi and Capernaum.

It made me wonder whether there was a reason as to why it was not named.

In our Gospel story today, we hear how Jesus, having taken Peter, James and John up this mountain, was transfigured before their very eyes.

Like Moses, whose face radiated the reflected glory of God, so the disciples gaze on the overpowering radiance of Jesus, who face shines like the sun and whose clothes become dazzlingly white.

They see Moses himself appear, and also Elijah there too, and in Luke's account it adds that they were discussing Jesus' departure from Jerusalem.

And so this transfiguration had two things to say to the disciples.

Firstly it confirmed Christ's deity.

Secondly, they saw a fulfillment of what Jesus had said to them days before, that they would not see death, before they saw the kingdom of God come with power.

And what exactly was that kingdom?

They were to see it was a different sort of kingdom, than the one they had in their minds.

Perhaps they were beginning to see that the kingdom of God had more to do with being transfigured or transformed ourselves, rather than being a conquering force against one's enemies.

So great was their experience, that Peter offered to set up three shelters, three permanent memorials to mark the occasion.

Surely this is what Jacob wanted to achieve in setting up his monument stones at Bethel to remind him of his dream of a golden ladder to Heaven, and to mark that place forever in the minds of the people.

It seemed like a really good idea, a perfectly reasonable suggestion, and then the voice of God boomed out,"This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased. LISTEN TO HIM!"

Obviously not impressed with Peter's suggestion… perhaps.

Even today, we're still doing this. We want to capture the wonder of the moment, the moment when we experience God in our worship.

So we glorify the event or the place.

We build glorious cathedrals and splendid churches so that others too might capture something of the glory of God.

But does God really dwell ONLY in events, certain churches , temples and cathedrals?

It comes as something of a shock to people of faith, to find God meets them in the streets, in the clubs and pubs; in the parks, in the glory of nature itself, also in and through one another.…

But we are to bear in mind that we are ourselves are temples ourselves of God's glory.

We also build shelters in our hearts.

We have permanent memories of past experiences and former moments of glory, where we have found ourselves so close to God or so filled with a sense of purpose and fulfilment in our faith that we grasp and hold on with all our might determined to recapture the moment.

But sadly we can also dismiss new ways, new ideas, new turns, because they don't match up to the memorials or shelters of those fond memories.

This is why we hear ourselves say :-

We've tried that..

I've done that before…

We did that at….

Tried it, Been there, Got the Badge, forget it.

Or we compare one clergy person of fond memory with another, and say 'When Fr So-and -so was here, he…

And somehow God is shut out, there's no access for him, through those he had chosen to lead us, because we've effectively closed down all systems that don't seem to quite match up to memories and events and people we've known. And so we find we've set up our shelters, or shrines, and we fail to come back down the mountain to reality.

Of course we want to be there on the mountain, and have fond memories of special times with God; but we must not allow ourselves to be paralysed forever with our heads screwed on the wrong way looking forever back in time.

O but for a closer walk with God… so the hymn goes

Let us pray to be God's people on the move, now, people renewed, forward looking, people that are willing to listen and go back down the mountain with Jesus, to the plains where he has special tasks for us to do than stay forever with our heads in the clouds.

Only then will we witness other transfigurations, other moments of brilliance, other changes in appearance…

Our own.

Behold I make all things new…. Behold I am doing a new thing.

Can you not perceive it? Says scripture.

Are we ready to go with God wherever he leads?

Are we willing to try out new ideas with future leaders of this church?

Are we longing for freshness, vitality, renewal?

Are we looking each day to a personal transfiguration of self?

Jesus talked about pouring his wine into new wineskins not old,

He spoke of living water, ever flowing streams.

I suppose in a way this might be the reason the sacred mountain was never named and venerated, and why the three shelters were never built.

Far rather see beyond the shrines we build to the Maker himself, whose voice booms out to us even today:-

'This is my Son,whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.'