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Luke 9:30-35 1
30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure,[a] which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) 34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

Background

Jesus is at the top of a mountain being transfigured, receiving the visits of Moses and Elijah and they are talking about Jesus’ departure. The three were celebrating the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles where people celebrated the protection offered by God during their wanderings in the wilderness (Leviticus 23:39-43). Moses and Elijah can be interpreted as the law and prophecy. They are now reunited with the Messiah. When the disciples see this gathering they want to build a shelter for each so they can stay with them but Jesus says they all need to go back to the people. Elijah and Moses disappear into a cloud that overshadows them. From this cloud appears a voice from God saying who Jesus is and that the disciples are to listen to him.

This transfiguration story is a magical story that has tremendous theological and social consequences. First, the apparent trinity at the top of the mountain is wrapped up in glory! A glory that is shared, that illuminates each other, that strengthens each other’s lives, and gives meaning to the past and future events. Second, when they disappear they disappear into a shadow, a cloud, and from that cloud comes the voice of God affirming Jesus. Third, Jesus has gone through a metamorphoses (“transfigured” in Greek: metamorphothe), a transfiguration, a radical change and shift, an event that transforms those who go through it. This transfiguration does not serve to benefit Jesus but prepares Him to go back to the people and continue his ministry until His departure. Fourth, before the sacred, we are also taught to keep in silence.

One of the first lessons of this text is that the glory of God is only possible if lived together, in community. Nobody, not even Jesus, can shine alone! The work of that trinity shows that only when we are together that God’s radiance can light each other’s lives. Also, we can only make sense of ourselves if the people who came before us are presence in our struggle. Our ancestors come to us to give us a thick sense of the present. They come to assure us that they survived under the name of God and we can do that too. Glory for us is only possible if shared and that means that we are to share the light of Christ to the world, especially those placed in the shadows of our world. The voice of God comes affirming Jesus. In that way, when we light the lives of those placed in the shadows of our world, it will be from those shadows that the voice of God appears, affirming Jesus! When we take the time to meet the transfigured Jesus we are disfigured, transfigured, and refigured. We become part of God’s mission on earth.

This Scripture story is about getting out of our worship spaces, and rebuking the unclean spirits of the powers that be, and shedding light into the lives of the poor of our communities. Unless we take time to learn what transfiguration means,  Glory will be an unknown word and experience. If we, together with our churches, in the name and by the grace of God, cannot heal the children of our own people and give them back to their parents, we will never know what transfiguration means.

Items for Discussion

  • What do you think the Biblical sense of “Community” means?
  • How do people differ when they are in a group as compared to alone? (both good and bad)
  • What does the word, “Glory,” mean to you? How might people in the midst of glory look different?
  • What would the activities of a church or body of Christians look like if they were a part of “God’s Community?”
  • What responsibilities do you see for those who are mobile to minister to those who might be infirmed?
  • Why is living in an insulated world inconsistent with God’s plans for His people?

Discussion Challenge

  • In a world filled with generational gaps, differing interests, polarizing political views, where do you see the role of the church moving?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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