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Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
A recent study was conducted by some of the greatest minds in the Episcopal Church to determine the Best Reasons to be an Episcopalian… this highly accurate and academic study has a margin of error of plus or minus five years in purgatory…
Number 12 reason for being an Episcopalian… The Directions included in BCP
11. Male and female he created them; male and female we ordain them.
10. No snake handling
9. You can believe in dinosaurs
8. One free foot washing per year
7. You don't have to check your brains at the door
6. Church year is color-coded
5. All of the pageantry - none of the guilt
4. Pew aerobics
3. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized
2. No matter what you believe, there's at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you
… and Number One:
1. Free wine on Sunday
Outside of Diocesan Convention, I don’t know of any other occasion when five Episcopal Churches come together in the Diocese of
.. but today there are members present from St. Mark’s here in Anaconda, St. James’ in Deer Lodge, St. Andrew’s in Philipsburg, St. Mary’s in Butte, and St. John’s in Butte… and together we make up the St. Joan of Arc Regional Ministry of the Episcopal Church in Montana – if anyone sees the need to add an additional church to our happy little band they will need to take it up – not with the Bishop – but with Montana Robyn.. and I suggest wearing suite of armor and a bullet proof vest when doing so… also, please note, should I accept another church.. you will have to provide me with a new place to live.
I suppose as Episcopalians we are all those things.. we don’t do snake handling and we do have a color-coded church year.. but that is who we are on the surface. However, if we were to look below the surface.. what would we find?..
I don’t know that I would like you looking below my surface? Well.. maybe on a good day it would be OK, but on a bad one.. not a chance. As much as I would like for you to believe that I am a holy man, I know the truth. Below the surface there is the ugliness that is the world. Below the surface there is anger.. insecurity.. impurity.... and so much more that is dark.
Yet.. I know that what the Beloved Disciple John said is also true… “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome (the spirits of the antichrist), because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” There is the darkness within me.. but I know.. that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”… and that light is Jesus. It is that Light that defines me.. not the darkness that would seek to snuff it out… and it is that Light that defines us – as the Body of Christ – and not the superficial descriptors that we get labeled with.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus showed us this.. He showed us what we are in Him… “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.”
From the icons of Jesus.. to the movies.. and statues.. we have this image of who Jesus was… Whether it is accurate or not, we can look at an image and say, “that is Jesus.” If you were to have met him on the streets of Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago.. you would have probably seen a middle aged Jewish man.. bearded.. perhaps with longer hair.. perhaps looking the part of a rabbi.. probably average.. no extraordinary features.. but that was only the surface.. that is not his true appearance. His true appearance is that of the Transfigured One… Radiating the glory of God like the sun radiates heat and light on a hot summer day… That light that Jesus shone with did not come from outside of him… It came from within himself… that is who He truly is.
Vladimir Lossky writes, “The Transfiguration was not a phenomenon circumscribed in – that is, limited to time and space; Christ underwent no change at that moment, even in His human nature, but a change occurred in the awareness of the apostles, who for a time received the power to see their Master as He was, resplendent in the eternal light of His Godhead.”
What I find so fascinating about this revelation of Jesus is that he was not only showing us what He is.. but He was also showing us what we are.. as Paul writes.. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light… Live as children of light.
There may be darkness within us.. we may be surrounded by darkness on all sides.. but we were not created for that darkness.. we do not have to succumb to that darkness.. and we certainly don’t have to settle for it… for through the Transfigured Lord.. we too can become transfigured into the radiance of His glory.
I love the story of Abba Lot and Abba Joseph.. I’m pretty sure I’ve told it to you before.. but Abba Lot goes to Abba Joseph and says, ‘Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’ then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’… If you will you can become all flame.. all light… you can be transfigured and radiate the glory of the Lord.
There are plenty of ways to describe us… five churches… Regional Ministry… Episcopalians… Anglo-Catholics… and so on… but that is only what we are on the surface. On the inside.. we are the Light of the Transfigured Christ.. and we must shine.
In his “I Have a Dream” sermon, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
Today, I also have a dream.. it’s a dream for the St. Joan of Arc Regional Ministry.. and that dream is that these valleys of southwest Montana will be exalted… and that the glory of the Lord will be revealed to all flesh that dwells within… but that glory will be revealed.. not because we have pew aerobics or free wine on Sunday… the Glory of the Lord will be revealed in these valleys because we have become all flame… because we have allowed the true light of Christ to shine through us…
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”.. become all flame.. let your light shine.
Would you turn to page 675 of your BCP – Psalm 67 – Let’s pray this Psalm of praise together… Let us pray…
1 May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
2 Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
6 The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.
7 May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.
… and the people said… “Amen!”