The Sermon Right Under My Nose

I’m really struggling to find something new to say for the Sunday Next Before Lent this year.  There are only so many ways to preach the Transfiguration, and I’m dragging my feet trying to find something clever, witty, or otherwise brilliant to say about it on Sunday.  I could preach the moral approach: we cannot stay on the mountaintop, but must come down to do the work of ministry.  I could preach the exodus approach: Jesus, as the new Moses, preceded by JBap, the new Elijah, came to set God’s people free.  I could preach the commandment of God approach: Listen to Jesus!  For some reason or another, these all feel dissatisfying this year.

Time is running short, it is already 2:55 on Thursday, and as I frantically look through my notes, while giving one ear to the heavens hoping for a sermon to appear before me (that’s how this works, isn’t it?), I’m realizing that perhaps I’ve missed the sermon that is right under my nose.  The Collect for the Last Sunday in Epiphany, which, as far as I can tell, is a newly concocted prayer for the 1979 BCP, tells us exactly what the Church expects us to learn from the story of the Transfiguration.

O God, who before the passion of your only-­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Look at it closely and you will find all sorts of Christological statements that can be discerned by the story of Jesus and his disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration; any one of which the preacher could easily jump on and run with into a tidy, 45 minute diatribe.

  1. This occurs “before the passion,” and in Luke’s account is just ahead of Jesus “setting his face toward Jerusalem”
  2. Jesus is God’s only-begotten Son
  3. His glory is revealed upon the holy mountain – what is glory? what is holy?
  4. We may behold by faith the light of Jesus’ countenance
  5. We ask to be strengthened to bear our cross
  6. We hope to be changed into his likeness from glory to glory

Thanks be to the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for such a tidy and theologically sound Collect.  Too bad they don’t do that sort of thing anymore, it really is quite nice.  I may be no closer to a sermon for Sunday than I was 30 minutes ago, but at least I fell like I’ve made some headway in my understanding of the Messiah.

You’re welcome. ;-p


3 thoughts on “The Sermon Right Under My Nose

  1. I think I heading into the darkness (Barbara Brown Taylor) and the mess that follows (the not-healing) by some disciples. i.e. ministry, even Jesus’ ministry is messy and in some respects leaves / leads us in darkness. who know, tomorrow is a vestry meeting away.

  2. Your opening words here…”I’m really struggling to find something new to say…” reflect just one of the many reasons I read your blog, Steve. Honesty and transparency. No matter what context we are in, we can all relate…

  3. Steve, you don’t have to say anything new. We forget and we like to hear about Jesus’ Transfiguration. Besides, about the only Greek, I know is about music, so the Greek meaning of Bible words reveal a lot to me. Is #4 above a definition
    of God’s glory? God’s glory- something we seek after. God’s light, his countenance. His revealing himself to us. HIS LOVE, His comfort. His uniquely beautiful voice! God speaking to us! Almighty God! Glory-what a beautiful word to sing!
    And then there’s “Glory in Excelsis! Glory, God coming to us and lifting us to His presence when we need him most. God comforting us, reassuring us that He is there and that He will always be with us!
    God’s voice, the voice of Jesus, unique, beautiful. God shining His light on us! His coming to us and lifting us up out of a “crummy situation” to His presence. God’s glory. A glimpse of
    it makes us want to stare into heaven. God letting us know He is the Most Powerful Force in the Universe and He is Love and He loves us! God shining His light on us so strongly, we can’t help but see it and reflect His light and love. We blossom in a mere glimpse of it. We seek it. In that glimpse of glory, we don’t have to do
    anything! We can’t help but see Him. We can’t help but KNOW HE IS THERE. In one glimpse of God’s glory, we know that HE KNOWS US and HE LOVES US! He has our attention! We want to duplicate the way we are comforted and lifted up when He shows us His glory but we can’t! We have to wait for GOD. When we glorify God are we reflecting His light?
    I’m probably far away from the definition of God’s glory but what does God’s glory
    mean to each one of us in each of our lives? The disciples were able to hear God’s voice that night. This must have made a difference in their lives. Would like to hear at least 45 minute sermon on this.
    AND WHY THE CLOUD? Was everything cloudy compared to God’s light? Did they want Moses,
    Elijah and Jesus to stay with them? Sort of sounds like they didn’t want them to leave. They sound like they didn’t want to let them go.
    Sorry to have rambled so. I just have so many questions about God’s glory. How is God’s glory defined? WHY DID THE DISCIPLES KEEP THIS TO THEMSELVES at that time?

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