This the Sunday that stands between the Season after the Epiphany and lent. In some traditions, it is known as Transfiguration Sunday because the reading for this Sunday is always the Transfiguration. Other traditions celebrate it at other times. Nevertheless, the readings for the day are always quite preach-able, and are a great transition to the themes of Lent.
- The OT Lesson and the Gospel are parallel passages. 2 Kings sets the context for Mark. The Elijah & Elisha saga is a wonderful story of transition from one prophet’s leadership to another. There is some standard story-telling repetition that builds–they go to Bethel, then to Jericho, then to the Jordan, each time Elijah tells Elisha to stay, but Elisha says: As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you. Twice, Elisha replies to the question, “Don’t you know that your master is leaving you?” with, “Yes, be silent.” At the Jordan, you get an inkling of the Exodus when Elijah parts the waters and they cross on dry ground. (Think Moses) After they had crossed, Elijah asks what he can do for Elisha, and Elisha asks for a “double portion of his spirit.” It’s a difficult thing to ask, but he makes the promise–if you see me leave, you will get what you ask for. Then the dramatic ending, the chariots of fire and the whirlwind. Then in an act of mourning, Elisha tears his clothes–but with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. From that day forward, Israel has been waiting on Elijah to return. There is still an empty seat kept in many celebrations for the coming again of the prophet.
- The psalm compliments the first lesson with similar images and the theme of the day–that God is speaking a word to all. How can you integrate Psalm 50 into your worship?
- The Epistle Lesson picks up on the themes of light and glory that exist in the Gospel. The glory of Christ that is so apparent in Mark is repeated by Paul in 2 Corinthians. The last sentences make an excellent introduction to reading the Gospel: For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
- The Transfiguration story in Mark is very succinct. Like the rest of the Gospel, the scene moves quickly, and Mark seems to be in a hurry to tell it. It is after all, Good News. No beating around the bush. Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John. (You can always bet when they go up a mountain, they are going to be in communication with God) Jesus is transfigured (changes forms) before them–his clothes become dazzling white (whiter than anyone can bleach them–that’s bright considering what my wife can do with bleach). The disciples see Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah–the one who led the people out of Egypt, and the one who everyone was waiting to return. Peter cries out that they should build three dwellings for these holy ones–that’s what we do well, erect buildings and monuments to honor the holy ones. There is not the interaction in this version that you will find in other Gospels, but you get the idea that it was not a needed action. Then there’s the voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” This is not unlike the voice that we heard at Jesus’ baptism–This my Son, the beloved, I am pleased with him. God speaks on the mountain top, and tells the three disciples to listen to Jesus–he speaks for me. Then, as you would expect Jesus to say in Mark–Don’t tell anyone, until “I” (the Son of Man) rises from the dead. The fact that we are retelling the story today means that they listened to Jesus, and they surely passed the word along.
- Good notes at Girardian Reflection on the Lectionary
- More reflections at-Text Studies with Dan Nelson
- Dan Clendenin’s Notes at A Beautiful Lie or an Eyewitness Account? The Transfiguration of Jesus
- Posted in: Proclamatio