2010-02-12 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;


Sunday of the Transfiguration /


Last Sunday of Epiphany

  Friday "Hot Tub" February 12, 2010  

Fridays are the only day of the week I can count on to have no meetings – so it's my day off.  I actually call Friday my "Sabbath," and scrawl the word across my dayplanner page as a reminder not to schedule yet another activity.  It's a day for me and my wife, Judy, and family or friends.  But sometimes there's good reason to work on the Sabbath.  And the blog is a good reason.  

I commented in one of the earlier blogs how love and glory seem intertwined – a good mix, actually, for Valentine's Day / Transfiguration Sunday.  Yesterday, I experienced that mix first-hand on three different occasions.  So as I encouraged us all to watch for the stories of grace and redemption that go on all around us, now I want to share mine with you.  

The first moment of glory came as I was meeting with Nathan, my Kid's Hope USA kid.  Once a week we meet, just he and I, for an hour at Lincoln Elementary school.  I help him with his homework, try to help him understand and correct why he has such a tough time staying on task, etc, etc.  This is my second year with Nathan, and I have come to love him.  

We were going to go through the spelling list – with which Nathan has mighty struggles.  There was something different in his eyes, though.  As we went through the list, Nathan was nailing them, and with each new word spelled correctly his eyes got brighter and wider.  When he finished his list without missing a single word his ear to ear grin, bright shining face (transfigured?), and obvious pride of accomplishment all came together in a grand, library-awakening "Oh yeah!" complete with a mighty high-five.  

Lots of kids at Lincoln School spelled their lists correctly that day.  But I'll never forget Nathan's triumph.  Not because he spelled them quicker, or with less guesses, or whatever other logical explanation there might be.  It's because I care so deeply for this boy, and to see him take even a small a step into achievement and self-confidence is one of the many things I so much want for him.  

The second moment of glory came as I visited in the hospital's maternity ward with Brad and Heather – and their newborn Isabelle.  We talked about all kinds of things related to the little one's birth, and then as Isabelle stirred, Brad picked her up and asked me if I wanted to hold her.  Isabelle snuggled into my arms, took one look up at me, crossed her tiny arms with those perfect miniature fingers across her chest, closed her eyes and went to sleep.  

Two of Brad and Heather's friends came in to visit.  As they talked together, I had time to marvel at the miracle of life once again.  This little one will grow up knowing that her Creator has given her a loving family, and church that will care for her and guide and teach her, a community where she will find her place complete with friends and activities unique to her endowments.    

I wondered, will she have good and loving playmates, will she escape childhood diseases, will she be safe, will she go on to school, will she make a career for herself, will she be hurt by selfish people, will she fall in love, will she find her passion in life early or late, will she love her God...  The glory of her new life—partly the miracle of birth and life itself, partly the unknown potential already developing within her, partly the unknown of life with all its promise and terrors...  All this glory weighing in so very serenely at just over seven pounds.  

The last glimpse of glory I share came on the trip home from the hospital.  I was waiting by the red light at one of those bizarre corners where five roads meet, the lanes are ambiguous and no one really knows what to do.  I couldn't tell whether the old woman driving her Buick in the "odd" lane had a green arrow or a steady green... and it doesn't matter.  She pulled out in front of someone and became so flustered she mashed the brakes and stopped in the middle of traffic.    

The young man who had the right of way had to mash his brakes even harder.  Cars slanted off in different directions.  Fortunately there was no pile-up, though there easily could have been.  As the cars in the middle of the intersection began to unwind the jam, I saw the young guy look at the woman he had just about rammed.  He rolled his window down and asked, "Are you okay?"  The old woman who had her hands on either side of her head nodded meekly and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."  The young guy made a signal to one of the cars blocking him, pulled out enough so the woman could drive through, and waved her on with a smile.  

It could have been so different.  Maybe I'm a cynic – I expect those things to end badly with honking horns, cussing, flipping fingers and worse.  But no, glory shone through at that intersection in a wonderful act of human courtesy.  The more glorious, I suppose, because I really wasn't expecting to see it.    

One of my colleagues, John Witvliet, remarks about a novel in which creatures living in a two-dimensional world are confronted by a creature from a three-dimensional world.  The novel, "Flatland," illustrates how the discovery of a three-dimensional world was both confusing and inspiring.  But once the inhabitants understood the third dimension, they couldn’t imagine a world without it.    

Once you have met Jesus, and seen the shape of glory that loves by self-giving, you likewise, cannot imagine living without him.  


Jack Vanderplate
2010-02-12 by David von Schlichten

Our guest blogger's posts get me thinking that I may preach about how worship reveals God's glory to us, and that revelation transfigures us. We then go out to help people in need. When we help people in need, we often encounter God again who, again, transfigures us. I will use my MS mission trip this week as an example.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

2010-02-11 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;

Sunday of the Transfiguration /

Last Sunday of Epiphany 

Thursday "Hot Tub" February 11, 2010 

Thursdays are my deadline to finish off liturgical planning.  Here's a list of hymns and songs that might give you some ideas... 

The King of Glory Comes

Christ Upon the Mountain Peak

O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair

Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus

0 Wondrous Sight,

O Vision Fair

A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing

All Creatures of Our God and King

My Faith Looks Up To Thee

The Most Excellency Is Jesus

Where Mists upon the Mountain Swirled

Christ Whose Glory Fills The Skies

Church of God Elect and Glorious

Christ Upon the Mountain Peak

Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory

The Lord God Reigns in Majesty 

Don't forget the Psalm of the Day which can be part of assurance, or part of the affirmation of faith, or perhaps an introductory reading before a hymn.  I like to consult old lectionaries when one of the readings doesn't light my fire.  Another benefit is helping to discover other scriptures that fit the theme.  So not only do we have Psalm 50:1-6, but another Psalm from another lectionary:  Psalm 99. 

And James Howell gives us a wonderful idea for the benediction with this quote from Oscar Romero:

When we leave Mass, we ought to go out the way Moses descended Mt Sinai: with his face shining, with his heart brave and strong, to face the world's difficulties.

 So, maybe something like: 

Sisters and brothers, a time came for Moses to descend from the mount.  A time for seeing the glory of Jesus on the mount passed as well.  Yet we have seen his glory; it remains with us.  One day, the glory of the Lord will be openly revealed to all.        

So go now in God's strength, and with bravery,

With faces shining in the radiance of God's love in Jesus.

Go in peace to love and serve our glorious Lord.  

Winola Green submitted this good comment on yesterday's blog: 

The people of Moses day were prevented from seeing the glory of God shining on the face of Moses by a veil.  Were those whose hearts were hardened done so because Moses brought the law? 

It seems to me that the veil has been lifted by the Spirit and we can see God's glory on the face of Jesus and through his miracles.   Jesus brought the Gospel and thus we all can glory in his Transfiguration. Jesus has removed the veil which had covered God's glory. Today we are free and allowed to see God's Glory through Jesus and for that we praise God. That might make an interesting sermon. I'll be listening.  

                           +   +   +


I'm not sure I can pinpoint a single reason for hardened hearts then or now.  Just as there are different threads to my hard heartedness, I imagine that humans have battled lots of fears, prejudices, self-seeking pride and more that brought with it a "hardness."  

I think that things not being the way they ought to be causes hardness.  We live with so much brutality and ugliness, so much callousness and disregard for each other that we protect ourselves with a layer of hardness. 

Probably the disciples on that mountaintop with Jesus battled their hatred of Rome, their dissatisfaction with the teachers of the law at the temple, their inner hungers for something worthwhile to give their days to – all leading to missing the true glory of Jesus because their hearts were set on a lesser glory.  

We who live in the "time between the times" don't get to see many oohs and aahs of glory.  But that doesn't mean we should harden ourselves to make due with the ordinary.  The transfiguration helps me to know that God sees glory where we do not:  on the road to the cross.  If I am willing to walk in the footprints of Jesus, to cultivate a spirit that is willing to give something of myself away so that another can benefit, then I will reflect a part of my savior's glory.  

I like to look for that in my fellow Chirstians too.  There are stories of grace and redemption which, when you start adding them up, are pretty glorious!


Jack Vanderplate; Mississippi
2010-02-10 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Jack Vanderplate for his exceptionally valuable posts on this Sunday's readings. He challenges us, for example, to consider how we fail to listen to God. Scroll down and jump in.

I am in Mississippi this week with my daughter Katie to help Katrina victims. I am not enjoying the experience, but I am trying to hear God's voice in it all. Indeed, God is talking here, such as in the voice of the person whose house we are helping to rebuild.

Then, in Winn Dixie, my daughter was talking about how kids at school drive her nuts because they are critical and judgmental. Our cashier, Brittany, then said to Katie, "Don't let them get to you." We walked to another part of the store. On our way out, the cashier said again, "Don't let them get to you."

The voice of God through Brittany the cashier.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

2010-02-10 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;


Sunday of the Transfiguration /

 Last Sunday of Epiphany 

Wednesday "Hot Tub" February 10, 2010 

There's something important in the gospel reading we haven't looked at yet.  Peter, in his usual, boneheaded way just had to blurt something out.  So he said, "'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.  Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)"  Mark says "Then...a voice came from the cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him!'" 

Fact of the matter is, the disciples had not been listening to Jesus.  St. Mark bookends the transfiguration with three occasions in which Jesus spoke clearly to his disciples about what was going to happen next.  In 8:31, 9:31 and 10:33 Jesus tells them that he is going to suffer, be rejected by the teachers of the law, be killed and then rise from death after three days.   

The first time Jesus reveals their future, Peter pulls Jesus aside and basically tells him "We're not going to listen to any more of this nonsense."  After the transfiguration Jesus again speaks of what lies ahead, but the disciples don’t understand and are afraid to ask him what he means.  The third time James and John respond by asking to sit at his right and left hand in his glory.  Clearly, the disciples weren't listening.  They just don't get it. 

So, in the face of the followers of Jesus not hearing him, God speaks from heaven: "This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him!"  Was there exasperating in God's voice?  Had Jesus not repeated himself enough for the dull disciples?  Or were the disciples listening for something else, and so not hearing what Jesus actually said?   

What is there in us—questions of our own, ideas about what God should care about, our own fears, our own agendas, our own ignorance—that allows us to hear all the words without listening? 

There's a T-shirt that says, "My wife says I don't listen to her – at least that's what I think she said."  One of the most common complaints from teenagers is "My parents don't listen to me."  Nor is this an unknown complaint from parents about their children.  If you've been preaching for any length of time it's happened to you—someone quotes you as having said this or that, when in fact you said the opposite! 

God's word as he revealed a glimpse of his beloved Son's glory was "Listen to him!"  May we have ears to hear. 


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