Every Sunday morning our Community of Faith Gathers to join together in worship. Our services are contemporary offering time for prayer and reflection and reflections that address biblical texts in today's context.
Everyone is welcome! We would love to see young people too. We will resume fellowship time immediately after our services in the future.
Our Worship Services are still suspended at this time. However we are developing plans to reopen for worship and hope to do so soon! In the interim, please do join us for Sunday worship on Zoom.
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Based on Mark 9:2-9 and 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Peter, James, and John follow Jesus up to the top of a mountain when this well-known story unfolds. Jesus is suddenly bathed in a bright light, his clothes glowing a “dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach then.” For a time, he is bathed in God’s love. (Image One).
The light disappears as fast as it came. The disciples are awestruck, frozen in time and space, not knowing what to make of this, and they hear the voice, “This is my son, the Beloved; listen to him.”
The disciples are not to tell of the phenomena, but what can they say and what will they do about their experience?
A reflection on Mark’s text could take us through some wondering about a call to follow Jesus, a call to discipleship. Or perhaps as Rodney J. Hunter remarks, this is a reminder about “living ….. with all our heart, soul, and strength in the confidence that Jesus’ nonviolent way is truly the way of salvation, healing and eternal life.”[i]
We could also talk about Jesus’ predicting his death and resurrection. As we will be entering Lent next week, that story begins to unfold. But as today is Valentine’s Day I felt more drawn toward reflecting on God’s Transforming Love. (Image Two – cupid).
Since 496 AD the Feast of St. Valentine has been celebrated on February 14. (Image Three) It commemorates St. Valentine who was a either a priest or bishop during the Roman Empire. He was recognized for his ministry to persecuted Christians. His martyrdom was much like Jesus’, as his morals and outlook collided with the established order. Evangelizing Christianity resulted in his death as ordered by Claudius II on February 14, 269 AD.
Interesting how modelling God’s ubiquitous Love can get one into trouble! I suppose if one just lived a life of generosity, kindness and compassion, the consequences would be minimal, if there were any at all. The problem seems to be when we say that our outlook, our life and our ministry models Jesus’ and models God’s love, that all you know what can break lose. That is indeed the messiness of following and advocating, but we all know that the good far outweighs the bad.
I wonder if Peter, James and John were terrified because of the experience itself (the shock of light and God’s voice), or terrified because they understood where discipleship was leading them? And I wonder if they considered what it must be like to stand in the light of God, being transfigured themselves?
Sometimes we tend to use the words Transfiguration and Transformation interchangeably. In fact, they are not the same. Transfiguring is a term that refers to an outward appearance. Think of a model before and after make up, new clothes, hair all done just right and adorned by jewelry. Think of yours truly dressed in ladies clothing from the Bargain Bin making a cameo appearance as Natasha at our first fashion show. (Image Four). Outward appearance is changed but inward, the individual remans the same. The persona has not been altered.
Transformation is something entirely different. After a transformative experience the individual is irrevocably changed. Think of the time you held your newborn son or daughter or the first time you held a grandchild. You were changed, you were transformed.
Transformation is a cornerstone learning goal at the Centre for Christian Studies that I attended for my ministry training. “You will be transformed,” they said. What did that mean? Well I felt it through the training program; reading, learning, looking at the world differently, sharing openly and growing spiritually, all moved me along a path of internal change.
There is of course a risk attached to transformation. It can be a bit scary. I can recall moving through apprehension and doubt considering ministry. Retire and go to school? There would be financial costs involved. There would be relationship pressures. There would be family pressures. Life would not be the same. I also recall thinking, “Holy Cow, What Have I Done,” more than once throughout the journey. Thankfully the veil of doubt was removed and I could see promise and joy in transformation.
I am wondering if Peter, James and John had a “Holy Cow, what are we doing?” moment or moments. They could have had that experience on the mountain top with Jesus. We don’t know what they were thinking, only that they were scared.
What I really wonder about is, while Jesus was transfigured, were the disciples transformed? Was God’s voice clearly audible to them or was the voice something they heard inside their hearts? And did they specifically hear as Mark says “This is my son, the beloved, listen to him!” or something like, “my son is my life on earth, follow him, learn from him, do like him, be like him?” And if they heard that, did they take the next steps towards transformation themselves, a movement not only furthering discipleship, but an inward awakening that left them confident “The Holy” was real and present. Did they get a sense that God was with them then and that God would be with them upon Jesus’ death? Did they gain a sense that God would be with them throughout their discipleship regardless of what might happen? Perhaps they were able to walk down the mountain more confident, more assured, and less anxious.
Evie read from 2 Corinthians “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 Glory” of God, the essence of tranquility, harmony, compassion, comfort and grace, shone upon Jesus that day he was bathed in the Creator’s glorious light. Witnessing that, perhaps his followers received Holy Light too and experienced something transformative.
Transformation also offers us a huge blessing if we allow ourselves to be open to it. I can speak to this personally in the ways I have been transformed as I have allowed God’s presence to move more deeply into my being. And I have seen transformation in others when the Holy Presence is welcomed in. Gradually outlook changes, despair gives way to promise; worry moves into hope; bitterness leaves room for forgiveness; reconciliation is birthed out of conflict. Even hatred gives way for love to find a place when God’s transforming love is invited in.
How does transformation feel?
I’m on the beach one summer day. I have been in for a swim; the lake is warm and the time is relaxing. I come out to dry off and the sun drops behind a cloud. Instantly I begin to shiver and I grab my towel. “Come on Mr. Sun,” I say out load. Only my dog hears me but he doesn’t care because he is covered in a layer of warm fur!
I’m watching the clouds move and within a few minutes a break occurs and the sun shines through again. It is brilliant and I am warmed throughout. I am no longer shivering, my external self appreciating the heat and I can let go of my towel. Inwardly too, I am warmed, blessed by the knowledge that the Creator is there once again. That is how it is for me. How might it be for you?
Thank you God for this reminder of your transforming presence.
And thank you all for listening this morning.
[i]Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 1, Advent Through Transfiguration, David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, Editors, John Know Press, Louisville Kentucky, 2008, p 454
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