Preached on 15 February 2015 at Church of the Resurrection, Bellevue
Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B
I never grow tired of driving around a curve in the road and suddenly being surprised by the mountain. Its grandeur, its beauty – each time they inspire such a sense of awe in me. That sight never gets old. I never take it for granted. I’m not sure why it surprises me, though. I mean it’s always there; it’s not going anywhere. And it doesn’t change much. Perhaps it’s because it is so often obscured by clouds; so whenever the clouds part or lift and the mountain is revealed, it takes my breath away. Revelation can be that way.
Yesterday being Valentine’s Day, there have been a lot of emails and posts and articles about love and romance and relationships. One in particular caught my attention; it was titled “How to fall in love with anyone.” Evidently someone did a study a number of years ago where two strangers would come into the lab, spend a couple of hours asking each other a series of 36 questions they are given and then gaze, silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes.
Well, the author of the article was having drinks with a friend from work and they decided to try it. And it did in fact result in them falling in love. The questions were designed to have them gradually reveal themselves, who they are deep down, their values, their history, their relationships with family, and so on. As they work through the list, the questions become more and more intimate.
They answer questions not only about themselves, but about what they value in the other. Usually people take months or even years to learn this much about each other. It requires a willingness to be open to the other to really know them; and a willingness to be open enough to be known – to be vulnerable. Love and revelation and vulnerability go hand in hand; one cannot truly love or be loved without vulnerability and revelation.
Epiphany is a season that celebrates revelation. Of God revealing God’s self to us through Jesus. It begins with the revelation of the messiah to the gentiles when the magi from the east visit the Holy Family. It continues with the revelation of Jesus at his baptism when the Holy Spirit comes upon him and the voice from heaven proclaims “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” And the season ends with the story of the Transfiguration where Jesus is clothed in glory and we hear similar words from heaven. One writer called the Transfiguration a “celebration of the visible.”
That’s an interesting way of putting it, isn’t it? In this scene on the mountain, Peter, James, and John, can see a visible transfiguration; an outward and visible sign of who Jesus truly is; a visible sign of the transfiguration that is happening within them.
Epiphany as a season of revelation is particularly interesting in this lectionary year, because Mark is known as the gospel of the Messianic secret. Everything is hidden in Mark. Demons are not allowed to speak – because they know who Jesus is. Those whom Jesus heals are told to go and tell no one. The disciples’ hearts are hardened so they won’t understand until the time is right. Even at Jesus baptism, apparently Jesus is the only one who sees the heavens part and the dove descend or hears the voice.
So it is almost startling when in this gospel of all things hidden, we see God’s glory burst through.
God cannot be contained. God’s delight in Jesus cannot be contained.
Now I want you to sit with that for a bit. Imagine being on that mountain with Peter, James and John, seeing Elijah and Moses. Seeing Jesus. Bask in the glow – no need to understand it, just experience it as you would Mt. Rainier or a sunset.
Experience God’s delight in Jesus. In the world God created.
Experience God’s delight in humankind – people – created in God’s own image.
God’s delight in each and every person. In your loved ones.
God’s loving delight in you.
In a few days’ time, Lent begins – a time of reflection and self-examination. This year, I encourage you to carry that image with you; make it a part of your daily devotions.
The image of the Transfiguration, the sense of God’s loving delight in you.
Even now, God is transfiguring the world; transfiguring your neighborhood; transfiguring you. Will you resist it? embrace it? delight in it?