The Feast of the Transfiguration The Feast of the Transfiguration by sdfgsg234

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									          The Feast of the Transfiguration
                    August 05, 2006
              Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.
The Feast of the Transfiguration displaces the regular
Sunday lections for this weekend because this sacred
event holds such a unique place in the life of Jesus and
in the lives of the disciples who follow Jesus as Lord.
Why is this pattern of remembrance so crucial?


First, the Transfiguration (Lk. 9:28-36) confirms
Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi a week earlier,
that Jesus is the Christ the messiah of God (Lk. 9:20).
The whole sacred event of the Transfiguration
declares that Jesus is not simply a carpenter from
Nazareth, nor is he John the Baptist, nor Elijah, nor
one of the ancient prophets. Jesus is the unique
Anointed One of God, the one who, in his divine
mission to rescue the universe from the power of sin
and death, must undergo great suffering, be rejected,
killed and raised on the third day. And so, the
Transfiguration stands at the pinnacle of those events
that disclose the Godliness and sacrificial love of
Jesus.

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          The Feast of the Transfiguration
                    August 05, 2006
              Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.


And second, The Transfiguration fulfills a purpose as
practical as it is mystical. The event gives supernatural
strength to Jesus and the disciples to face, and then to
withstand, the trauma of the Passion. What lies ahead
for all of them in Jerusalem is too much to endure
without a profound vision of hope to sustain them.


The Transfiguration tells us that experience of the
Holy is the root of all religion. Let me offer two
suggestions on where and how to experience the
transfiguring power of God in our lives.


The first is prayer. I spoke at some length a couple of
weeks ago about prayer, but Luke is the one
Evangelist who emphasizes that the only thing Jesus
intends as he climbs the mountain with Peter, James
and John, is to pray (v. 28) and as someone has said,
when Jesus goes to pray, big things happen. Luke also
writes that Jesus is praying when he experiences the

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          The Feast of the Transfiguration
                     August 05, 2006
               Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.
Transfiguration (v. 29). Luke, by making this
distinction, shows that prayer is the context within
which God’s transfiguring power happens. Prayer is
the human posture of openness to God in which
heaven   and     earth   unite…the      essence   of   the
Transfiguration. Prayer is that place through which we
open ourselves to the sacred, the means through which
the sacred transfigures the secular. Prayer is the
channel through which we find light in our darkness. It
is the key to divine illumination, healing and
wholeness. Through prayer, the Evangelist is telling
us, we can go to the Mountain, and we can follow
Jesus to the Source, and be transfused ourselves. By
opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit through prayer,
we not only go to the mountain, but the mountain
comes to us. Prayer serves as a kind of portable
mountain to which we go to experience, intimately,
the love of God. And the more we go to the mountain
in prayer, the more transformed we become.



                               -3-
          The Feast of the Transfiguration
                    August 05, 2006
              Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.
The second suggestion on where and how to
experience the transfiguring power of God in our lives
is in foot washing service. It’s interesting to note that
immediately after the mystical experience he just
witnessed, Peter, in typical human fashion, wants to
capture the event by building memorials to Jesus,
Moses and Elijah (v. 33). Peter’s edifice complex
wants to concretize the event, but Jesus wants nothing
to do with such a plan. He moves off the mountain,
taking the disciples with him, down into the valley and
directly into the world’s pain. In this case, the world’s
pain is a father’s only son who is attacked by a
demonic force, an evil being that seizes and convulses
and mauls the child (Lk. 9:37-43). Those who have
witnessed the pain and powerlessness of their own
children, or of any child for that matter, know that
there is hardly any greater pain in the world. So the
pattern is complete. From the mountaintop of spiritual
experience to the depths of human suffering, the
Gospel takes place. Each experience needs the other.

                              -4-
          The Feast of the Transfiguration
                    August 05, 2006
              Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.


For Luke, this going down the mountain and into the
world’s pain means that the Transfiguration finds its
consummation in sacrificial service. The Holy Spirit
wants no memorials simply because the grace of our
Lord Jesus seeks only to be given away. You received
without payment, give without payment (Mt. 10:8),
Jesus told the disciples in another setting, and the way
we give is by serving those whom God gives us,
freely, regardless of merit or worth. This act of
unqualified self-expenditure becomes a transforming
source for the giver. In Jesus, the service of God and
the service of the least of the brethren were one.


Rather than being a hardship, foot-washing service is
part of that perfect freedom Christ promises to those
who follow the Way of the Cross. It’s not the easy
way, but it is the way of blessedness. To be deprived
of being such a servant of Gospel love, or to miss it
out of neglect, greatly diminishes our chances of being

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             The Feast of the Transfiguration
                      August 05, 2006
                Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.
transformed.     Our    religion      unspent    for   others,
atrophies.


There is a modern parable…. at least it was modern
when I read it some years ago…a parable that shows
just how necessary service is, not only for
transfiguration, but for our health and salvation. It
goes something like this: There was a man who died
and found himself in a beautiful place surrounded by
every conceivable comfort. A white-jacketed man
came to him and said, “You may have anything you
choose, any food, any pleasure, any kind of
entertainment.” The man was delighted, and for days
and days he sampled all the delicacies and experiences
of which he had dreamed on earth. But one day he
grew bored with it all and called the attendant to him
and said, “I’m tired of all this. I need something to do.
What kind of work can you give me?” The attendant
sadly shook his head and replied, “I’m sorry, sir.
There is no work here for you.” The man answered,

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         The Feast of the Transfiguration
                   August 05, 2006
             Rev. Nathaniel R. Elliott, Jr.
“That’s a fine thing. I might as well be in hell.” The
attendant said softly, “Sir, where do you think you
are?”


Wouldn’t that be tragic? Nothing of the Lord’s work
to do.      EVER.                  AMEN.




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