I arrive at these readings with echoes of last week’s scriptures still running through my head. Somehow the convergence of the 1 Corinthians passage and the Luke reading created something new for me. As I was preparing to preach to my unusual congregation, I saw myself in those Corinthians or those Nazarenes. I have always wanted to be the one chosen, to be the best, to get noticed. But Jesus pointed out that God chose one widow out of many and one leper out of countless. It struck me very powerfully that there is nothing wrong with second place or third place or even last place. God does not need us all to be number one. God will not choose us all to be extraordinary in a standout kind of way. But, as Paul points out, we are to use and to celebrate our gifts and the gifts of those around us. Does someone else preach better? Rejoice and give thanks to God. Is someone else healed? Rejoice and give thanks to God. Does someone else receive recognition for a job well done? Rejoice and give thanks to God. Have I worked hard and done well without anyone noticing? Rejoice and give thanks to God. I don’t say this lightly. It was an eye-opening and spirit-freeing moment for me. I can be second place girl and God is well-pleased with me.
Now I read the transfiguration story. And guess what? I feel the same yearning deep within me. I want that. I don’t want to be transfigured. I want to see it happen. I want to see the face of God and know for sure that it is God I have seen. But last week’s lesson was a powerful one. Others have had this experience. It’s okay. I will rejoice and give thanks to God. Because this story reveals a God who is close by, who invites me to open my eyes and see what I have not seen before.
So I take a deep breath and relax. It is highly unlikely that I will see Jesus in quite the same way that his first disciples did. I will not heal anyone in quite the way that Jesus did. It isn’t that I don’t have enough faith or that I have too many doubts, it’s just that Jesus isn’t in the world now in the way he was then. He’s still here, though. And I at this moment I’m pretty sure I’ve seen his face.
Just this week I have seen the glory of God in the psychiatric patients who seek God, seek hope, even in the midst of unfathomable pain. I’ve seen the wonder of God in all pictures my friends post of their beautiful, innocent children. I have seen God in the face of my beloved when I realized how close she had come to dying just yesterday, and how blessed I am to have her in my life. Words lose their ability to capture the intensity of the joy and gratitude I feel when I think of all the places where I have seen the glory of God.
It won’t take the yearning for more completely away. I will need further lessons in humility and self-acceptance. But today, right now, I can marvel at the display of God’s glory on that long ago mountain top. I will also take this story of transfiguration as a reminder to invite Christ into all my relationships that God’s face might be revealed in others. And maybe then I will be better able to rejoice in their successes and share in the burdens of their pain, all the while rejoicing and giving thanks to God for who I am, for those I am privileged to encounter, and for a God who is in this world waiting for me to open my eyes and see things just a bit differently.
RCL – Year C – Transfiguration Sunday – February 10, 2013
2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
Luke 9:28-36 (37- 43)