Monday 31 October 2016

Bible Book:

“And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.” (v. 2)

Matthew 17:1-8 Monday 31 October 2016

Psalm: Psalm 38:1-9


During a sabbatical visit to Russia I went into an OrthodoxChurch on the day of the Feast of the Transfiguration. The greatdoors behind the sanctuary were opened to reveal a great icon ofthe Transfiguration, showing Jesus in full heavenly glory. Asglorious voices of the choir sang the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy),the sunlight from the high windows fell upon the icon and it shonewith a light that seemed to shimmer with holiness - I wastransported in my imagination to the temple of the prophet Isaiahand to the Mount of Transfiguration.

This was a surprisingly moving experience for a Methodist, notleast one who cherishes her Primitive Methodist heritage. Iexperienced the transcendent, awe-inspiring presence of God in anew way that morning. Perhaps I gained a small insight into theexperience of Jesus' disciples as they witnessed him shine with thelight of heaven - removing all shadows of doubt as to his divinenature. It's not surprising that Peter wanted to stay on themountain top (verse 4) - to solidify the experience and make itsomething concrete, based in a real place, where it can be markedand preserved.

The difficulty with staying up on the mountain top is howdisconnected we can become from the community of those who have notshared such an experience. It can be giddy and the mountaingrandeur awe-inspiring, but the air can be thin and the view hazyand it takes a lot of work to maintain a mountain top as a place tolive. Jesus urged the disciples to go back into the valleys andvillages, that is where the mission is, where they are needed - inthe midst of a community crying out for good news. The glimpses ofglorious grace that come from time spent in the company of thedivine Son of God become empty of meaning if they do not connect usmore deeply with the world, which was created by God and in whichGod's mission is located.

To Ponder

  • Can you remember a time when God seemed particularly present toyou? What was it like?
  • How do you connect the 'mountain-top' experiences of yourfaith, with the day to day practicalities of mission?
  • How can our worship be a place where people might encounter thetranscendent nature of God?
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