Sermons

"The Transforming Light of God's Love," The Transfiguration of Our Lord

"The Transforming Light of God

Aug 06, 2017

Passage:Luke 9:28-36

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Jill Walters

Series: Feast Day

Category: Love

Keywords: love, power, transformation

Summary:

God's love is revealed as light in the face of Moses and in Jesus' encounter with God on the mountain. This loving light transforms them and all those who witness it. It shows God's constant reaching out to us and God's power to change us all.

Detail:

May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen

          Today’s Old Testament and Gospel readings show us a God who’s continually reaching out to us...communicating with us God’s abundant and powerful love...preparing us for the changes that take place as a result of this love.  We see Moses and Jesus transfigured—changed—transformed.  Both men go to the mountain, encounter God, and are forever changed.  Moses’ face is shining because he’s been talking with God.  Jesus’ face changes and his clothes become dazzling white while he’s talking with God. 

         Think about what an amazing thing this is!  It seems like such a common thing on one hand—just “talking” to God.  On the other hand, this is awesome and terrifying.  Both men are in the presence of God!  The God who created the universe.  The God who still creates the universe.  The God who has power beyond anything we can imagine! 

     And there’s an intimacy, a closeness in these two stories.  Moses goes back and forth to God.  He talks to God about the people of Israel...his concerns...their concerns...their needs...their fears.  The Creator of the universe listens to him and responds.  And his encounters with God continually transform him.  He’s changed each and every time—even when he can’t see it in himself.   The people can see it.  And although the people of Israel have been grumbling about God and the journey they’re on, they haven’t forgotten that this is Yahweh.  The one, all-powerful creator of all.  They’re frightened.

     They see this overwhelming light shining from Moses’ face.  They know he’s been in the presence of God.  They know he carries the powerful light of God’s love with him. 

     But Moses has been talking to God for several years now.  God has not only transformed Moses’ face, but God has changed Moses’ heart.  Moses loves God’s people.  And Moses has such love and care for the people of Israel that he wears a veil to cover the light on his face so they won’t be afraid.

         In Luke, we see Jesus sharing this experience of prayer and revelation with his close friends.  Not only do they see Jesus’ appearance change, they see Moses and Elijah engaged with him in conversation.  Moses and Elijah also appear in “glory.”  These two prophets live in the presence of God and they know the path Jesus must walk.  They talk with Jesus about his impending death in Jerusalem.  His disciples have yet to fully understand what’s unfolding--that Jesus has a great deal of suffering and pain to endure. 

     At the same time, what a gift for Peter, John, and James!  Jesus choses to share this experience with them.  Although they only partially understand what’s happening, they’re present at this magnificent and terrifying event!  They see Jesus and Moses and Elijah.  They hear the voice of God saying:  “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  I think I’d pretty terrified, too, if I saw Elijah and Moses appear and heard God speaking from a cloud!

      We, too, can feel like the people of Israel and the disciples.  Sometimes we’re not even certain God’s love is with us.  We don’t know where God is in our lives.  The people of Israel wander in the wilderness.  They look to Moses with questions.  They aren’t sure God even cares about their circumstances.  But God reassures them.  God transforms Moses’ face and his words.  God sends a light with Moses to reveal God’s love and presence to the Israelites. 

         And the disciples think they should build dwelling places for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  They don’t understand what they’re seeing.  Even after they hear God’s voice, they aren’t sure what’s happening.

         At other times, we know that God is with us.  We bask in those moments when we encounter the light—the love of God.  But once we stop to think of the enormity of it all, we can be afraid.  Knowing this love means knowing the power of God’s love.  This awesome, magnificent, terrifying power.  We know that this love can change our lives.  It can change the lives of everyone around us.  And these changes may call us to walk a difficult path. 

         As you and I move through our lives, we may experience these moments when we’re sure about God’s presence.  And at other times, we may completely doubt that God is with us.  But, know this, God constantly seeks us out.  God reaches out to us.  God never stops pursuing us...never stops trying to convince us that we’re loved by the Creator of the universe!

     Moses and Jesus both know this.  God has not given either of them easy tasks.  But God’s presence is with them, through the light that shines.  God’s presence is revealed through the people God sends to help them face what lies ahead.  Even if the people of Israel and the disciples don’t fully understand God’s call, they know that they’re in the presence of something powerful beyond words...something that alters the course of history...something that calls to them over and over and over again. 

      God continually reaches out to us.  God wants to “talk” with us.  God’s love prepares us for the path ahead.  It’s so powerful that it gives us light to show the way.  And it gives us the strength and assurance that we need to follow God’s call.  May we all recognize the light of God’s love when we’re in its presence.  And may we gain strength from that love to follow the call God has given each of us.  Amen.