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The Transfiguration and the Move from Epiphany to Lent

Christmas and Epiphany move toward revelation. Christmas moves from the Incarnation in a lowly manger revealed mostly to shepherds to the coming of the astrologers “wise ones” from the East. The world is changed, and then the change is revealed. Epiphany begins with the wise ones visiting a toddler and ends with the man revealed as the Son of God to his disciples. 

This cumulative moment seems like it will open the path of revelation, and the nations will stream to the one revealed. We would like to think that, but instead they also reveal a reality that is hard to bear. Jesus immediately is telling the disciples who witnessed his radiant self revealed to keep it a secret because he was going to suffer and die. They did not want to hear it then either.

Revelation seems like it will make things better. I love those videos on YouTube of soldiers coming home to their unsuspecting children and the loving reception they capture. Everyone has by adulthood revealed something expecting an effusive “yes” in response and gotten something else. In one of those revelation videos captured by someone in the crowd, the child stands off, guarded and unprepared for their father’s return. 

Jesus is the Son of God, the promised messiah who will set his people free, but it will not come as they wanted. The children will stand off, guarded and unprepared. Being free from sins and condemnation, free from divisions and hatred, free from the crushing weight of death on our shoulders seems nice from the sidelines. But, when it interrupts your basketball game or your work plans, it can seem more like an imposition than a revelation.

A friend said that when her now husband proposed, she told him to wait while she answered the phone, not realizing why he was kneeling on the floor at the restaurant. In Mississippi my neighbors used to tell the story of an old slave finishing his row of cotton before listening to the news of the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Reminds me of what the Voice from the cloud says on Sunday, “This is my Beloved Son, listen to him.” We have been thinking together for the last two months about God, his being Creator, his claim on every life, his justice and mercy, his compassion and his kingdom. Now, we turn in Lent to his Son, his revelation of himself in a human being. 

In our sermons, classes, and reflections, we turn together to listen to him. Join us and discover our emancipation, our Lord who has come to us unexpectedly and with love.