Last Epiphany, Feb. 23, 2020

Title:Last Epiphany, Feb. 23, 2020

 Last Epiphany, Year A, Feb. 23, 2020 (full size gallery)

We have seen blooms in February and that usually occur in March. February is usually the third coldest month of the year, falling behind December and January but is has not been so far. One reason is that there has been a positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) which correlates with very cold air trapped in the higher latitudes such as Alaska and Canada, making it harder to spill southward into the U.S.

We had two services – 9am Holy Eucharist Rite 1 with 5 in attendance and 11am Morning Prayer with 27. The bulletin is here for 11am.

This week Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb 26. Our service is at 7pm. The homepage this week has some articles but most of our Lent related material is at Lent at St. Peter’s 2020.  This portion of the website will change during Lent so come back. Our Lenten calendar provides daily scriptures, meditations amd information about the saints on a particular day

Today’s scriptures celebrate the revelation of God’s glory. In Exodus, Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai. Peter testifies to the amazing events of Jesus’ glorious transfiguration.

In today’s gospel, three of Jesus’ disciples witness Jesus’ radiance and hear the voice of God. Matthew’s account, marked by allusions to Moses’ own mountain top encounter with God, links the transfiguration to the final coming of the Messiah as prefigured in the Church. The words from God also echo the words from the Baptism of Jesus in the first Sunday after the Epiphany. The difference is the addition "Listen to Him."  It may also mean to continue to follow.  Just as Moses was sent back to a recalcitrant people, so the disciples trudged down the mountain. There they would confront the fractious crowd and a demon-possessed boy whom the other disciples could not cure because of their lack of faith.

As Matthew tells it, Jesus’ transfiguration is primarily a manifestation of who Jesus really is. The promise of his return receives the beginning of its fulfillment in the event of Jesus’ death, resurrection and appearance to the disciples.

Peter, overwhelmed by the presence of those most intimately acquainted with God’s ways—Moses and Elijah—wishes to enshrine the three and thus capture the revelation. But the voice from heaven redirects their attention to a living, breathing, active person—Jesus. Relationship with God cannot be a static experience of localized worship, but must be as dynamic as attending to the voice of One they love. Moses and Elijah vanish, for the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) have been fulfilled in what Jesus has done, and Jesus alone remains with them always.

There are several reasons why this story is helpful to us, the present day disciples.

First of all, Peter, James and John had to be willing to go with Jesus up the high mountain alone, leaving their companions, the other disciples, behind.  The disciples who waited at the foot of the mountain also had trust and faith in Jesus, because they simply waited for him to return.So we can learn from this beginning of the story that we too can trust and have faith, not only to follow Jesus into unusual places, but also simply to wait on Jesus to return

Second, this story is a reminder that living in the present moment is one of the best ways we can be open to God at work in our lives.  We get tempted to hold certain moments or times of our lives and enshrine them. 

Third—God said, “This is my Son, the beloved! With him I am well pleased!  Listen to him!”  This statement of God’s is a pretty clear cut helpful part of the story. Listen to Jesus, God tells us!   Jesus does not say that the path of discipleship will ever be easy, that we will be spared pain, and in fact the path of discipleship can bring pain!  ?  The transfiguration story reminds us that in this death dealing quicksand of information, the lifegiving teachings of Jesus will guide us in the paths that God wants us to go.

Fourth, the disciples were overwhelmed with fear and awe because of what they had just experienced. Peter is a great example of someone who did just that—impetuously living and sinning, even as he tried to live a life of discipleship. Fear of what people will think or say about us might keep us from doing some life giving thing God is calling us to do. Fear might hold us back from taking the risk of loving our enemies, or seeking justice for the oppressed.  Fear is bondage.  Fear is not being able to act

Here’s one last lesson for us as disciples—Jesus told Peter, James and John to tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead. We must remember that all of these stories about Jesus as the Son of God are not complete unless we hear them in the context of the resurrection.   And our lives are not complete either, until we put our own stories into the context of the resurrection—God desires new life and resurrection for all of us—but God will never force us to receive new

The sermon looked at both touch and fear. During the transfiguration “So many things happen so fast. The disciples fall to the ground, overwhelmed by fear. And then Jesus comes to them. Jesus touches them.

“Remembering that Jesus is God’s beloved Son and that we are to listen to him will help us when fear catches us by surprise, and when we don’t know what to do because we can’t see the way ahead.

“Suddenly, we may find that we are to act on behalf of Jesus, that Jesus is asking us to be his hands, his voice and his presence to someone filled with fear.

“Or suddenly, we may find that we are the ones who are filled with fear and Jesus is telling us, the ones who fear, not to be afraid because

“Jesus himself will touch us in the loving touches of those Jesus sends to us.

“Jesus will speak to us in the voices of those who comfort us on his behalf.
Jesus himself will be present in our midst as we are present, through his love, to one another.”