• Content

  • Pages

  • Upcoming Events

    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 2, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 9, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…
    • Sunday service - Holy Communion October 16, 2022 at 9:30 am – 11:00 am Grace Church 215 Pleasant Street, Sheldon, VT Website: www.gracechurchsheldon.orgTime:  09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)        Every week on Sun.Join Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/83929911344?pwd=alZQTWZMN0ZkWFFPS1hmNjNkZkU2UT09Meeting ID: 839 2991 1344Password: Call for detailsOne tap mobile+13126266799,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (Chicago)+19294362866,,83929911344#,,1#,816603# US (New York)Dial by your location        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)        +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)Meeting ID:…

The Last Sunday after the Epiphany Year A   February 23, 2020

Exodus 24:12-18
Psalm 2
2 Peter 1:16-21
Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the Last Sunday after the Epiphany. This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. We move from the Epiphany season, a time when we celebrate the showing forth of the light of Christ to all people, a time when we focus on light and mission. And we enter the season of Lent. 

Lent comes from the Old English word “lencten”, meaning “spring.” Lent is a time when we take on disciplines that will bring us closer to God and a time when we let go of any things in our lives which draw us away from God. Lent is a time when we engage in self-examination and preparation for the great feast of Easter. In the early Church, Lent was a time in which people were prepared for the sacrament of Baptism. It is a penitential time in which we examine our lives and repent. 

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that to repent is to be sorry for our sins and to dedicate ourselves to the amendment of our lives. Another way to say it is that during Lent and other times of penitence, we experience metanoia, a process of transformation which leads us closer to God and allows us to let God into our lives so that we grow more and more into the likeness of Christ.

Lent is a time when we walk the Way of the Cross. We walk in the shoes of our Lord and we gain a more profound understanding of who he was, what it means to follow him, and how we can live the Way of Love.

Our opening reading today is from the Book of Exodus. Moses goes up the  mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. Back in those days, the thinking was that you could not look into the face of God and live. So the fact that Moses could go up there and come back down was quite amazing to people. Herbert O’Driscoll says that back in those days Mount Sinai was an active volcano, and that certainly adds to the terror of Moses’ journey.

In our gospel, Peter has said that Jesus is the Messiah. Our Lord takes his closest followers, Peter, James and John, and leads them up a high mountain. This is not Mt. Sinai. Scholars say it could be Mount Tabor or Mount Hermon. Others suggest other possibilities. Some say we should not search for an exact location but consider this a symbolic Mount of Transfiguration.

In any event, Jesus and his three companions go up the mountain. His face shines like the sun, his clothes are dazzling white. He is transfigured. The great prophets Moses and Elijah are there, talking with him, showing that he is in the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.

We could say that this is an awe-inspiring scene, and perhaps a bit scary. It is definitely what we would call  a “mountaintop experience.” Peter is is extremely flustered and is not quite in possession of his logical faculties. He wants to build three booths to preserve this moment of intersection with the eternal. When we have those mountaintop moments, we all want to do this. We want to save the moment forever.

As in the baptism of our Lord, God says, “This is my Son, the beloved; with him I am well pleased;” and then God adds some very good advice: “listen to him!” The disciples fall on the ground, overcome by fear. You know how it is. In a terrifying moment, we became paralyzed. And then Jesus comes and touches them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And they look up and see no one but Jesus. The text says, “himself, alone.” He is the Son of God, and yet directly after that moment, he comes and touches them, calms their fears, and brings them back to reality. Then they go down the mountain.

As we get ready for Lent, there are so many things we can remember from this transfiguration experience.  One is that we can now look into the face of God and live. We can look into the face of Jesus and from the power of his love and light we can gain the courage to take the next steps of our journey.

 As we move into Lent, we can remember the glorious illumination of his transfigured presence. We can keep in mind that he is calling us to grow into his likeness, to become more and more like him.

We can feel him touching us in our moments of fear or grief or despair, and saying, “Get up, and do not be afraid.”

The author of the First Letter of Peter, probably a disciple of Peter, is so close to his teacher that he can recall this moment as though he actually lived it. This faithful disciple writes, “You would do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

The morning star is often thought of as a symbol of Jesus. In hymns such as number 497: “How bright appears the morning star; with mercy beaming from afar; the host of heaven rejoices; O righteous Branch, O Jesse’s Rod! Thou Son of man and Son of God! We, too, will left our voices: Jesus, Jesus! Holy, holy, yet most lowly, draw thou near us….”

For the next two days, we can hold in our hearts this vision of our transfigured Lord and his call to us to open ourselves to his transforming power and love. Then, on Ash Wednesday, we will resume our journey with him, the journey to the cross.

As we make that journey, may we hold this vision of who he truly is, May we be strengthened to bear our cross. May we be changed into his likeness. In his holy Name. Amen.

%d bloggers like this: