Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Transfiguration Sunday, the last Sunday of the Epiphany season is approaching. As I have been preparing to preach this coming Sunday, I have read and reflected on each of them.
The Old Testament reading (Exodus 34:29-35) tells us that the glory of God shone brightly on Moses' face. Not only did spending time in the Lord's presence transform Moses' outward appearance, but it may have transformed him within as well. A hint of this transformation appears in verses 32-35 in the reference to Moses veiling his face. Perhaps his covering of his face was a sign of his humility illuminated by God's steadfast love and faithfulness. Moses sought no attention except to receive God's instructions and deliver them.
Spending sacred time alone with the Lord in prayer, scripture reading, and meditation helps us release our fears and entrust our lives to a merciful and gracious God. The source of our transformation is God at work in us. The transformation of Moses' face culminated in the epiphany of God's love for all generations. May we too shine God's covenant love for all and glorify our Father in heaven.
Psalm 99 is assigned to Transfiguration Sunday. This psalm about God's holiness remembers God's response to Moses and Aaron and Samuel's call to intervene against Israel's sinfulness. Though the sinful people trembled at the thought of God's presence, they learned firsthand that God comes to bear their sin and to comfort them. In holiness God drew near to keep, guide, and forgive the people.
Remembering God's presence in our lives, we too experience God's judgment and mercy for our sinfulness. The gospel of our Lord convicts and frees us of sin's power. God's holy presence transforms our everyday lives. Psalm 99 teaches how our God is committed to us and enacts justice and righteousness in our midst. It is thus fitting that Jesus taught us to pray, "Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9-10). These are words of transformation illuminated by God's presence, now and forever.
After reflecting on the Old Testament reading, I felt invited to ponder how Moses veiled his face to hide God's glory from Israel's gaze. In Paul's letter to the Corinthians, our New Testament reading (2 Cor. 3:12 – 4:2), he speaks of a greater glory in the life-giving Spirit. God's love is unveiled through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, fulfilling both law and promise. Paul shares that when one turns to the Lord, a veil is removed. The Holy Spirit is given. Our vision focuses clearly on the glory of the Lord. We not only see with new eyes but are transformed from one degree of glory to another. We behold God's mercy and love for us and our neighbor.
For this reason Paul encourages us to not lose heart. The ministry of the gospel unveils our sins. We renounce them and then can announce with boldness God's unveiled holiness and the forgiveness God offers to all.
The Holy Gospel for Transfiguration Sunday is Luke 9:28-36. I invite you to read it along with the other three readings assigned to this coming Sunday as you prepare to worship with praise and thanksgiving on Saturday at 5:30 or Sunday at 10:30. I will of course be sharing my reflections on the Gospel (or perhaps expanded reflections on the other three readings) during worship. See you there.
In Christ’s Service,
[These reflections adapted from ”God Pause” a publication of Luther Seminary.]