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. 


2010-02-09 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;

Sunday of the Transfiguration

/Last Sunday of Epiphany  

Tuesday "Hot Tub" February 9, 2010  

One of yesterday's blog readers mentioned that some of the Super Bowl ads were fun to watch.  He mentioned the Bud ad in which an individual claimed to be able to solve the problem but instead the people went for a suggestion that, "We're gonna be alright." 

 Indeed, the great "cloud of witnesses" to God's glory from Hebrews 12 will be alright.  

Mark 9:2-9

 Two outstanding luminaries in that great "cloud of witnesses" appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration – Moses and Elijah.  Both of these monumental figures appear in the gospel for Transfiguration Sunday in connection with glory.  In other words, they themselves participated in the glory that was revealed for a moment on the mountain.  By contrast, it seems that the disciples—Peter, James and John—do not participate personally in Jesus' glory, but only experienced it.  Or is that all there was to it?  

What if we look at all the participants on that mountaintop experience as archetypal symbols of the kingdom of God—each a formative leader of a new epoch in the successive unfolding of God's kingdom?  So Moses' glory is the glory of God in leading the Hebrews out of slavery and into a new freedom defined by doing Yahweh's will—lights in a dark world.  In the process, they become a nation "whose God is the Lord."  

2 Kings 2:1-12

Elijah's glory is more complicated.  He is more than just a representative of "the prophets."  He is the greatest of those prophets; so great that an empty seat at the Passover Seder is reserved for him.  One of the teachings about the coming of Messiah was that Elijah would come first.  (The disciples asked Jesus a question about this point of theology:  "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"  —Matt 17:10 NIV).  Elijah's glory prophesies resurrection.  His successor, Elisha, watched as the prophet was taken up into heaven gloriously, without ever having to taste death.


Jesus himself is the focal point of glory on the mountain.  He is the transformative leader par excellence.  Moses led Israel from slavery to landed nationhood.  Elijah led a spiritual revival that confronted kings and even mocked death.  Jesus will extend the blessings of God to every nation of earth, and transform even death into "life to the full," eternal life.  His resurrection would be the first-fruits of many to follow (1 Cor. 15).  


There's another archetypal symbol of formative leadership in the successive unfolding of kingdom epochs on that mountainside.  Beside Moses, Elijah and Jesus, stand the disciples Peter, James and John.  Their "glory" doesn't seem to measure up.  They don't really know what to say or how to act in the presence of Moses, Elijah and Jesus.  They're frightened.  It might seem that they are merely passive participants in this glorious experience – star-struck witnesses only.  

But the disciples were destined to spearhead the evangel.  They would turn the world upside down, uneducated and "simple" as they were, because they had been transformed by Jesus.  "Frightened" on the Mount of Transfiguration; they would be described as "bold" in stepping out to proclaim new life in Jesus' name.  The turning point came after Jesus' resurrection (the glory predicted in the prophet, Elijah) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (the transnational kingdom superseding even the glory of Moses).  

The disciples are archetypal representatives of the body of Christ – the new epoch in God's unfolding salvation – blessing every nation, and pointing to our only lasting hope in the Prince of Peace.  You and I participate in that new epoch today.  In Jesus name we form a glorious, transnational community that cares for, tends to, suffers with and blesses those who suffer, are powerless, without voice, or marginalized.  In Jesus' name we point to the glory God created us for.  Read on - David von Schlichten reports from Mississippi that witnesses are seeing that glory even today!

The glory of Moses, Elijah, and yes even Jesus was being previewed by those three disciples.  God was pouring "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" into their lives and ours (2 Cor 4:6).  Even now victimes of Katrina, the people of Haiti and elsewhere are witnessing "acts of God," nothing less than glimpses of that glory.

Indeed, we'll be more than just alright!  


Wisdom in Mississippi
2010-02-08 by David von Schlichten

I am in Mississippi this week with my teen daughter helping Katrina victims rebuild their homes. Today, one of the people who runs the camp where we are staying said, "Katrina was an act of nature, but the work of people helping the victims is an act of God." Amen.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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