Relationships Matter: a Reflection on Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, and Mark 9:
Michael Horton in his book A Better Way writes, “Today people want to see, touch, and control God.” Today is Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday. God was seen by Peter, James, and John that day twenty centuries ago. And we too want in on the action.
Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and Jesus are all active participants in God’s redemptive story. Each has a unique relationship with God and one another. The bottom line is this: what difference does Jesus being revealed as God mean to each one of us?
Oh how we attempt to contain, package, and market God. You recall Blaise Pascal famous words, “God made man in his own image and man returned the compliment.” We have shaped Jesus over the centuries into a dreadfully small deity. We want a Jesus who confirms our prejudices and preferences. Brennan Manning writes in The Signature of Jesus, “In every age and culture, we tend to shape Jesus to our image and make him over to our own needs in order to cope with the stress his unedited presence creates.”
Being like someone we respect and admire is a worthy aspiration. Elisha is being handed the mantle of Elijah. The reading in 2 Kings 2:1-12 depicts Elisha identifying with Elijah’s vulnerability, difficulty, struggle, and challenge. By doing this, Elisha depends on God’s mercy to see him through. It is through the hardships of life that individuals and communities see God’s faithfulness proved.
The Transfiguration calls us to enter into the deep realities and relationships of the people with whom we worship, live, and serve. It is this way that we can be truly vulnerable with others and absolutely dependent upon God’s mercy.
And that is where the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 are helpful. Most churches have a preferred way of doing things. Geneva is no different. But, we must ask ourselves how that “veils” the gospel; our message to others and the communities around us. With Paul, we must realize that when we veil the gospel, we inhibit people from hearing and receiving good news.
In Mark 9:2-9, we have a real event, with real people involved in a surreal kind of situation, the transfiguration. What the disciples see is not Jesus becoming something else. What they see is a pulling away of the veil of humanity to expose the spiritual reality of who Jesus really is. They see the divinity of Jesus. Jesus is God who claimed to the prophet Moses that “I am.” The transfiguration is a momentary removal of Jesus’ humanity. Peter, James, and John see God.
In Psalm 50, God reminds the people that “faith is not just a matter of rote and routine, but passion,” writes Brian Erickson. The psalmist’s message is one of hope. And so is the event of the transfiguration.
Whatever happens in your life, whatever people say about you and your faith, whatever difficulties fall upon you, God is in control.
In and through it all, experience vulnerability with others and dependence upon God’s mercy.
Scripture Readings are taken from the two-year daily lectionary cycle which follows the liturgical calendar and begins on the First Sunday of Advent.