Today's Lectionary Text
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.
One hot summer day when I was 10 or 11, my friend Betsy and I got involved in a mystery together. KIT radio in Yakima, Washington, was giving away a pair of tickets to a Braves game scheduled for that evening. The Braves were the local semi-pro baseball team. To win the tickets all one had to do was guess the coin make-up that added up to $1.34 (or some amount I don’t remember exactly). The announcer would toss the coins on the table and folks would call in with their guess. It was hard to get through, but it would be worth the wait for the winner. Betsy and I were taking turns placing the call. On my turn, finally, I got through. I gave my answer. It was right! I had solved the mystery. I won the tickets! That evening my dad and I got to go to the ball game.
That was a mystery. It was a riddle, a stumper, something to solve, to unravel. Aren’t mysteries fun? The story in today’s Scripture reading involves mystery as well. However, that may not be the kind of mystery this reading depicts. Rather it is a story of Holy Mystery. In the narrative Peter, James, and John witnessed this Holy Mystery. It stunned and bedazzled them. They watched as Jesus was changed right in front of them, and they saw Elijah and Moses join Jesus. Wow! The Holy Mystery was displayed before their eyes.
The Holy Mystery surrounded Jesus and emanated from him. This was not the same mystery that involves guessing the number of coins that make up $1.34. It was the kind of Mystery that words cannot describe. It was Mystery that exudes power and authority. It was Mystery that defies definition. It was Mystery that fills and urges and offers help.
What did Peter, James, and John do? They offered to do the practical thing, to build dwellings for Jesus, for Elijah, and for Moses. Then this Holy Mystery could be contained, made comfortable, and kept under control. It could be worshipped.
Sometimes in our own rush to be in control and to perform in those ways God expects of us, we forget God is Holy and that means worshipping and adoring God. We need to be filled with awe and wonder at this great and amazing God, who appears in the transfigured Jesus.
However, as we are filled with such a spectacle of glory and power, we can allow the power to fill, energize and transfigure us. We can be changed into God’s creatures who use our own selves -- our hands, our voices, our gifts, and talents -- in the world where we are. We can allow ourselves to be used to help transfigure the world into something better, into a just place, a place where no one is treated better than another, and where each person is concerned for the well-being of every other person.
We will not ever completely “get” the Holy Mystery. What we will get is the chance to join that Holy Mystery in bringing the world closer to that which God desires it to be.
-Rev. Dianne Tombaugh
Prayer for Reflection
O Holy Mystery, fill us with awe that strengthens and empowers us. Show us how to use such strength and power to change the world and bring it closer to you. Amen.
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