Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shining with the Glory of God That Is in Us: Transfiguration

This is a short homily following a very stressful day of travel due to a major snow storm sweeping through central Canada and the northeastern United States.  It introduces a sermon series for this Lent on prayer through the lens of the traditional categories of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession and petition.

Click here for an audio recording of the Sermon as preached at the 10.00 a.m. Eucharist.

Last Sunday after Epiphany
10 February 2013

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

Exodus 34.29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3.12-4.2; Luke 9.28-36

            One of my regrets is that it is not easy for me to donate blood.  Although the reasons for the difficulty are physical not psychological, it pains me because I have a relatively uncommon blood type that the Canadian Blood Services Agency would value.  “It’s in me to give,” but my blood veins are not congenial to giving up a portion what’s in me to others.

            In all three readings this morning we hear that there is something in us to give.  After Moses’ encounter with the living God, his face shines, radiating the consequences of that encounter to the people of Israel at the foot of the mountain.  When Jesus goes up the mountain to pray, he is revealed to be filled with the glory of God, the glory of God’s Beloved.  When Paul writes to the fractious and divided Christian community in Corinth, he dares to write to them that “. . . all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3.18)

            Every human being has been made in the image of God.  While some Christians believe that human sinfulness has erased that image, other Christian traditions such as ours have taught that sin cannot erase the gift of God’s image within us, only obscure it, hinder it, blur it.  By means of God’s Spirit working in us, by our choices to follow the promptings of that Spirit rather than the promptings of those forces that rebel against God, that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, that draw us from the love of God, we reveal God’s image in our lives and grow more daily into the likeness of God (cf.  The Book of Alternative Services, 154).

            This is the difference between transformation and transfiguration.  To be transformed implies that a person or a thing becomes something that it was not before.  To be transfigured means that a person or a thing is revealed for whom or what it truly is.  To be transfigured is not without its consequences:  the moment my true identity is revealed, I have an obligation to live my life as my true self not as some counterfeit.  Transfiguration requires integrity.

            How do we grow into integrity?  I am sure that the libraries of human society, past and present, are filled with innumerable contributions to this discussion.  One of the means for growth into Christian integrity is prayer.  Have you noticed how often the gospels tell us that Jesus goes away to pray just before entering a new phase of his ministry? 

            With this Lent, as with every Lent, you and I are entering a new phase of ministry as we respond to the invitation to grow into Christian integrity so that God’s image might shine in and through our lives.  This Lent I plan to share with you reflections on five dimensions of prayer:  adoration, confession, thanksgiving, intercession and petition.  My hope is that these reflections will help us become who we truly are:  God’s beloved through whom our homes, our neighbourhoods and our communities shall be filled with the glory of God that is already in us, seeking to be freed from whatever blocks its light.  After all, "It's in us to give."  Amen.

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