Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dealing with the desire to glorify these failing bodies

TO SHINE LIKE THE STARS

NASA - Public Domain
Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.  And as He was praying the appearance of His face was altered, and His clothing became dazzling white.  Luke 9:28-29

OUR faith is a living faith.  It is based on the events of the past, on all the things that God did to bring about our salvation, but when we consider these things as we do annually in the church year, it is not for the purpose of living in the past.  We must start there of course, but then we must move on to find both the present and the future meaning.

Today we remember our Lord's transfiguration.  We need to be reminded once again of the event, to be made aware of what took place and why, since no incident in the Savior's life was without meaning.  The remarkable change that took place in His appearance on the holy mountain that day is an indicator of who Jesus is.  It teaches us that He is Light of Light, that He is very God who appeared in the flesh to dispel the darkness that envelops us, and to swallow up death forever.  It tells us that God did not send a boy to do a man's job, for no one else could do what our High Priest did.   Moses was a good and holy man, but only a man, one whose strength and salvation came from God.  So does ours.

One of the leading forms of idolatry today is the unquenchable desire people have to save themselves and everything around them, not just in the religious realm, but in all areas of life: whales, trees, malaria sufferers, women in combat, but we forget that our very existence depends on God and that we could not think a thought or lift a finger without His blessing.  "In Him we live and move and have our being" says holy Scripture; and "unless the Lord build the house, the builders labor in vain."  Now if we need a steady stream of God's mercy to accomplish the things that reason comprehends, how much more the things that it does not, such as the spiritual warfare we wage against sin, death and Satan?

What benefit does knowledge of the Transfiguration confer on us today?  As we said earlier and can never repeat too often, it informs us that the Man who was going to Jerusalem to stand trial for our sins, is God.  It informs us that He is the Bright Morning Star of God to bring salvation to the world, to shine light so bright that earth's thick darkness cannot overcome it or extinguish it.  Jesus is that light.

Now there is nothing we desire more than to be glorified, but we go about it all wrong.  We think that money, beauty, talent or tattoos can transform us from the mundane creatures we are, into shining individuals who will be loved and adored by everyone.  Is there any hope for us, or will our lives always seem like a dead-end?  Will we always be frustrated with our dreams ever beyond our reach?  There is hope!  By virtue of our baptism we are made one with Jesus, and His glory is ours, but it is nothing that the world would understand, or that human eyes can see, or that human reason can comprehend.  This kind of glory is understood only by faith.

Jesus was glorified in two ways, first by becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  This was His glory.  Then by being raised again.  The same is true about us.  In baptism we sacramentally follow Jesus to the cross and grave.  Sin is put to death in us and we are changed from children of wrath, children of disobedience into sons of the Living God.  Not only are we put to death with Christ, but we are raised again to a new and different kind of life, one marked by faith, by hope and by love expended in service to God and to one another, even our enemies; and though our outer self is wasting away, the Lord's Transfiguration reminds us that our inner self is being renewed day by day.  This is our glory.

As often as we come to the Holy Mountain of the church to pray like Jesus prayed, and to receive nourishment from God as Jesus did, we too are glorified.  We are dressed in the dazzling garments of the resplendent Lord and are given a glimpse of the grandeur that awaits us.  As we stated earlier there is not just a past and a present aspect to our Lord's transfiguration, but a future one as well.  When Jesus returns scripture assures us that He will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself, but when it comes to such promises, like the three disciples on the mount of Transfiguration, we are drowsy with sleep.  Such a promise seems too good to be true, like a dream.  We cannot discern it when we look in the mirror, or as we hear the endless negative chatter of the people who know us all too well; or as often as our consciences accuse us, but this is where our Lord's transfiguration does us the most good.  It promises that we who are united to Him, whatever things look like now, will one day shine like the stars forever and ever.  That is the future promise of Transfiguration that we long for and that will be realized when our Lord returns in glory.  Amen

~Rev. Dean Kavouras

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