The gospel lesson says, “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling." Jesus was changed, he was transformed...
Ready, Set, Go! – Glory, Praise, Action!
Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen. Luke 9:28-36
The gospel lesson says, “While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling." Jesus was changed, he was transformed and in this process two figures from the past came to meet him, Moses and Elijah. This was a marvelous experience for Jesus because it gave him the assurance he was on the right path, the path to Jerusalem and the cross. He was assured of his place in God’s plan. When we read this story we can understand the words, but what does it all mean? What does it mean for us - this transfiguration?
This year group from both Allisonville and Avon Christian Churches had the honor and privilege of accompanying our Partner Church in Haiti – CONASPEH – The National Council of the Spiritual Churches of Haiti. It was truly a transforming visit – we saw the glory of God, we praised God along with our brothers and sisters in Haiti and we are now called to action!
First there is the word glory. The word Glory is used many times in this text. It means awe, wonder, and splendor. Christ in all of His glory meant he was in all of His godly might, in all the splendor of heaven. In this transfiguration, Jesus becomes as God.
Have you ever had to fly in a airplane on a cloudy rainy day? As the plane climbs up toward the clouds, you can see the rain, the lightening all around. To be in the middle of that is to see something powerful that can be scary. However the plane keeps climbing and then all of a sudden you have climbed out of the clouds. You can look down and see the thunderheads and the lightening streaking across the sky. But around the plane now is the brilliant sun, the deep blue of the sky. It is calm and it is peaceful. You settle back in the seat no longer tense, no longer afraid of the wind, the rain and the lightening. Now you can sit back and enjoy the quiet of the ride, the beauty of the sky, the peace.
In 2011, a group from Allisonville went to Haiti - a country which was touched by disaster after disaster in 2010. Before the earthquake, hurricane, political strife and cholera epidemic, Haiti was already a place that many here in North America see as “hopeless”. Having served there as a missionary, I know that this is far from true. Although, I have to admit, I thought it was going to be difficult to find hope in such circumstances. But, sometimes God turns things upside down! We had planned on working in several areas: construction, work with children at the school, teach a seminary class and finally work with post traumatic stress (or better said working with teachers to help them with some tools they might use with children who have been severely affected.) The four of us who would be working with the teachers left not knowing if this was going to be helpful or not. When we got there, the director of the school had organized a group of teachers who would be participating in this workshop. There were five teachers plus the director of the school – Francoise Villier. We started with prayer and explained that this was a time that they could share some of their stories and experiences with us. The first question was: Where were you on January 12, 2010 at 4:52 p.m.? (This was the date and exact time that the earthquake shook Haiti.) During the first few moments there was silence. Francoise looked at me in horror and said, “Sister, you know that we can’t talk about that.” (In the Haitian culture, a sign of strength is holding in all of the bad and hurtful things that have happened in your life. No one talks about the bad things that have happened in one’s life!) I looked at her directly in her eyes and said, “Francoise, you know that we care about you and you know that when one in the Body of Christ hurts, all of us hurt! You can trust us with your story.” She then said, “What I want to do is build a huge boat, put all of what has happened in Haiti over the past year in it, seal it up tight and send off to the ocean as far as it would go! But I know I cannot do that.” She then began to share her story of what had happened on January 12th and the many difficult things she and her beloved Haitian brothers and sisters had to experience. She talked, cried and even laughed. Because she had shared her story, the other teachers began to share their personal experiences as well. That whole afternoon was spent on sharing what had happened the day the earthquake hit. They heard each other’s stories for the first time. We all cried and hugged each other. The second day’s question had to do with, “How are things today in Haiti - with your family, in your own life and in your work?” There was much sharing and caring for one another. The consensus was that things are truly difficult and it is hard to see how things will get better.
Our last day there with our Haitian brothers and sisters, we asked the question, “Where do you see things a year from now – What is the hope for: you, your family, your community, your country?” This was truly a difficult day, because many could not see hope – “There are too many things against us: too much corruption, too much poverty, too much illness, too many bad things!” There was anger, rage and disappointment in thinking about the future.
Then Francoise spoke up again and said to the teachers, “How can it be that you see no hope. We are the ones who are teaching our children. If we have no hope to share, how can we go on, how can they go one?!” Then she pointed out to the top of a hill and said, “Don’t you see it?! Don’t you see it?! It’s just a flicker – just a tiny light up in the mountains. It is just a tiny light from where we sit, but up on that mountain it is a huge flame. Come with me, let us go toward that light of hope and as we get closer it will continue to grow and when we get there that flame of hope will embrace and engulf us so that together we can take hope into a world that needs God’s grace, love and hope!” Today there is a new school that sits on that same site that serves 1000 school children, a seminary and a nursing school! Glory be to God!
The transfiguration was that kind of experience for Jesus and the disciples. For a moment they left the brokenness of this life to go up the mountain to be with Jesus. They went to see from where Jesus had come, to see where they would go because of him. Yes there is an awe, a beauty, a glory about Christ which fills our lives with peace and contentment. That glory gives to our lives the quiet and radiant peace which allows us to have the strength and the courage to handle all the brokenness of life.
After we have seen and felt that Glory – when we have been in the presence of the Lord -we are called to lift our lives in praise! That presence is God through Christ and the Spirit entering our souls. It is then that we drop to our knees in an act of worship as we praise Him. When we are filled with Christ’s love, and as we feel his transforming power we turn to him with our praise and our joy praising God almighty for God’s wonderful deeds! As the glory shines more, the praise becomes louder and louder. As our shouts of praise become louder and louder, our acceptance, our welcoming of Christ becomes deeper and deeper in our soul.
After we experience this glory and praise we are called to action. When we encounter the glory of God, when we praise God - We are then asked then asked to listen, then act. The text says, "And a voice came out of the cloud saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him.” There is a sense which we must still listen to Jesus as he guide us down the journey of life.
Prayer: The Haitian are people who not only want to live in history – they want to make history. We have been blessed to see and experience history in the making by many sisters and brothers in Haiti! Let us also be a people who make history. Let us live lives that glorify, praise and serve our God! Do you see it - just a flickering light of hope that will grow to light the world for many. let's answer the call to be part of that light! Get Ready - ready to glorify God, Get set - set to praise God, GO (go and make history)- AMEN!