"This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" (Mat 17:1 NRS)

These are the strongest words of affirmation and of commendation that anyone can repeat. In them God is affirming the purpose and work and mission of Jesus. He is mine – I am proud of him. These are the kinds of words that any child would be overjoyed to hear from the mouth of his father for they would inspire and encourage any child to give of his or her best.  But there are the kinds of which a father can say only because he is happy with the way his child has developed and with the  work which he is doing.

Would that more father and mothers - more parents- could so affirm the lives and work of their children.

There are also words of commendation from a father to three trusted friends – unbelieving  friends  – as He tries to tell them that the person they are looking at is the messiah whom they seek. And he is saying to them that you can trust this man- you can trust his word because he and I are as close as you can get. When he speaks it is as if I had spoken. You will see me perfectly revealed in Him.

But this is not the first time that these words were said in connection with Jesus because throughout Jesus’ life God was revealing himself through him and on occasions these words were used. Indeed at his baptism particularly these same words are used – except that on that occasion –the words listen to him were not included.

Today is the last Sunday of the season of the Epiphany – a season in which we focused on God revealing himself  – to the Jews –but also the world in Jesus. It is a season of light – of the brightness and the glory of God. But for all this it is a season which leads into the season of lent – of the darkness of death and the cross. And these thought of death are the last we heard in today’s gospel- “Tell no one the vision until the son of man is raised from the dead”. From brightness to darkness – the cycle of life.

Now if we had followed the Gospels closely over the past nine Sundays we would have seen a God who is revealing himself, in the person of Jesus, in the ordinary persons and in the ordinary events of life

- Shortly after his birth he is revealed to the wise men from the east and their lives were changed after the encounter – we are told that they did not go back the way they came but went another way. Matt 2: 1 - 12

- Then at his baptism just before he was tempted. Matt 3: 13 - 17

- Soon after John that proclaims the Messiahship of Jesus and testifies that he saw the dove from heaven descend upon him and remain as it was prophesied.  John 1: 29 - 41

- We then have Jesus revealing himself to his disciples as he chooses persons with whom to do his work; and

- For the past three Sundays Jesus   is teaching the people who God is like and how they must live if they wish to be godlike - in the sermon on the mount.

And so over the Sundays of the epiphany we see God interacting with ordinary people in ordinary activities of life. It is as if God is in the midst of the cut and thrust of life. And that must surely be one of the  messages of the epiphany – the showing forth of God in the world to the world.

But the revelation of God in today’s gospel story is somewhat different  – for God is now in the extraordinary things of life, God in the mysterious, God in his dazzling brightness – a light shining through Jesus for all around to see. It is an event such that Moses had that experience on Mt Sinai. And one that Paul experienced on the Damascus Road.

For us it is like when some event in our lives causes us to understand more clearly than ever that God is real in the world and in our lives. Could it be the achievement for which you longed and then realized I after all the odds. Or perhaps the birth of a child.

Can you think of an event in your life when God seemed so real – when everything seemed so clear. That would be a mountain top moment.  These are points of great significance and meaning  when an event radically changes our outlook on life.

And so the God in this story is the God of the mountain top  - not the God of the valley. This is the God of the  turning points of life.

God is experienced both in the everyday things of life –in the routine cares and concerns – and also in the extraordinary. In other words God continually reveals  himself to us in all the people we meet and in all the events of our lives.

But mountain top experiences do not last forever for soon they give way to the affairs of the valley.  And it is for this reason that Jesus discouraged Peter from his suggestion to build tents for Elijah and Moses  - tents to contain the event  – he discouraged him from trying to make the experience a permanent long lasting one– it was not meant to last forever even though it was meant to convey a strong message and to bring about a change.  Jesus knew anyhow that in a few short days the scene would be radically different.

These moments provide us with strength to bear the other more ordinary moments of life.

And the message in this text and in the story is that if we are to change and have the strength to bear the more ordinary moments of life then we have to listen to Jesus.  We listen not only to his words when he says I am the way  but also to what his life was saying this way to be – the way of the cross.

For Jesus the transfiguration was indeed a transforming experience – a point  in his life  after which his focus shifted to Jerusalem and his death- to the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus knew that to fulfill his mission of leading both Jews and Gentiles back to God he had to make that sacrifice and so he prepared himself and tried to prepare his disciples for that moment.

It was also a transforming experience for Peter and James and John for they had never seen anything like it before. And they all seemed to have been at a loss for words even though later in the passage we are told that the disciples understood as Jesus explained to them.

Now when God reveals himself to us in all his might and splendor we also experience a life changing moment- it is as if we become more fully aware of God – fully aware of our selves - as His light shines upon us. It is a moment when our thoughts change. Our view of the world changes.

It is an experience which provides a new gateway to freedom for us – it is as if we are released from the concerns and stresses of the material world even though we continue to live in it – freedom for God to work through us.

To be transformed by God and to be transformed to God we however have to let go – let go of our self – of all selfishness and let God. And it is a process in which our faith grows as we come to realize that God is in the world and that it is God’s world.  We cannot experience God in the world if we do not believe that he is in it- and once we believe that then we cannot run from the world because God is connected to the world and so must we be too.

In this process of transformation we experience the events of life with our senses; EXPOUND

Peter, James and John both saw the light and they heard the voice of God.  And it starts there. All of us observe the events of life- we observe them with our physical senses. Our transformation calls for an awareness of what is happening in the world . In our world today there is much turmoil –especially in the east – Tripoli, Tunisia and Egypt – and we see the scenes of strife and we hear the angry words of the words the peoples as they call for the resignation of Gadaffi. We see pictures of the destruction in New Zealand – is God revealing himself in these things.

Next we interpret through the eyes and ears of faith.     Sometime ago I was talking to a lady who suggested to me that I should go by another lady in the district to visit with her. She had called her during the week but her voice sounded strange on the phone so she  decided to put away what she was doing for the moment and go over to visit with her. As she did.

Now when I went over to the other lady she said to me that she was so scared a few days ago as she was alone taking care of her sick mother who had gone into an unusually deep sleep and was snoring strangely. And in her frightened confused state she could not think of anyone to turn to – she does not live here but was only visiting. It was while she was in that state that the phone rang and on the other end was the lady who had spoken to me first. Not only did she talk on the phone but she also came over and provided the second lady with much comfort –just by her presence and her words.

I ask you – who was the person making that phone call? Was it the lady who spoke to me? Or was it God?

And then we change as we realize that God has spoken to us.

And so as we leave this season of glory and revelation and as we enter the Lenten season with the words of the text in our ears my prayer is that God would so work in us this Lent that at its end we can say truly God is real in the world – and God is real in me – I have experienced Him on the mountain top– for that is the Easter message we proclaim to all the world.


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