You don’t have to be a lectionary preacher for very long to realize that a few stories carry a bit more weight than all the rest. John the Baptist gets a lot of love in the lectionary. Toward the end of the year, things get pretty heavy with the mini-apocalypses. This Sunday, we have another one of those lessons that gets a lot of air time, the story of the Transfiguration. Because it appears in all three Synoptic Gospels, the Transfiguration is an easy one to cycle in all three years. In the Lectionary, we hear it read every Last Sunday after the Epiphany, and we hear both Matthew’s and Peter’s versions of it read on the actual Feast of the Transfiguration.
It can be difficult to find new things to say about these oft-repeated lessons. The usual suspects seem to always appear. Peter’s befuddled comments make it easy to say “we can’t stay on the mountain top.” Moses and Elijah allow the preacher to talk a bit about the prophecy surrounding the Messiah. The terrible darkness is a point of entry, as is the dazzling white of Jesus raiment. But after ten years of Last Epiphanies, my initial reaction to the whole thing is
Writing this blog and my larger homiletical process have taught me that most of the time, I’m preaching to myself. What I write here and what I say in the pulpit are usually indicators of how I’m feeling or what I’m struggling with at any given time. Clearly, this whole post has been about me and my stuff, but I wonder if our people feel this too? Do those who don’t spend hours each week immersed in the Lectionary notice when these things pop up again and again? Do they hear something read on Sunday and say, “really, we’re doing this again?” Do they wonder how the preacher comes up with something new to say, or, rather, do they wonder why the preacher always seems to say the same thing when these things cycle back around?
Thankfully, I’m not preaching this week. In fact, given the content of the last three paragraphs, it is timely that I’m taking a vacation this weekend. As I wonder what else I might say here about the Transfiguration, I’m thankful that I share the pulpit with two really good preachers who I know put in the word of study and prayer, and especially for my colleague Becca, who will preach a fine sermon on a difficult set of passages this week. I’m praying for you, dear reader, and for the work you do.