Transfiguration – March 3, 2019

Rev. Lyle McKenzie Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria    

Exodus 34:29-35 / Psalm 99 / 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 / Luke 9:28-43a

Listen… There is a lot to hear in these stories. The account of Moses’ second journey up Mount Sinai and returning to the people with the commandments of God on new tablets. Moses’ face shines so much the people are afraid. But Moses speaks with them and tells them all that God said on the mountain. And Moses veils his face, removes it when speaking with God, and replaces it when telling the people all that God has spoken.

Speak… like Moses, of the way God’s glory touches humanity, touches you, shines in others, and give voice to God’s loving commands to live as God desires for the sake of all creation.

Listen… Paul interprets this account of Moses’ veiled face as a sign of a people not able or willing to hear and see the glory of God. Turning to God, that veil is removed. “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of God as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from God, the Spirit.”

Speak… with honesty like Paul of failing to hear and see the glory of God, in ourselves, all others, and all creation; but by the grace of God seeing that glory revealed in our varied coloured faces as neighbours, or the veiled faces of Muslim neighbours, in God’s continuing covenant with our Jewish neighbours, being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, “for this comes from God, the Spirit.”

Listen… Jesus goes from teaching on the plain – the place, as Pastor Lyndon said last week, of the sufferings and challenges, the mix and mess of human existence, to the mountain and all the glory of God that is revealed there in Jesus, in Moses and Elijah with Jesus; in contrast to Peter’s fearful misguided speaking about making tents for them there; they are covered by a cloud and hear the voice of God proclaiming, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!” “And they kept silent in those days and told no one any of the things they had seen.”

Speak… of the glory of God revealed in Jesus, God’s beloved and chosen, and of the need to listen to Jesus, and witness to Jesus’ healing and giving new life to a hurting and struggling child and begging parent with them, and of our calling to help and heal all God’s children in the glorious, loving Spirit of Jesus.   

Listen… We had the privilege of seeing a transfiguration play, “Bears” by Matthew Mackenzie at the Belfry, that I know some of you saw, about Floyd, an indigenous oil rig worker from Alberta who following an incident involving a spill, is on the run from Alberta through the mountains into BC and is transformed from human to grizzly bear, and aided by other animals to survive, becomes more and more aware and connected to creation, themselves and their ancestors’ teachings.

Speak… of the contested wilderness and animals, indigenous lands and connections, lost in the debates about pipelines and coastlines, jobs and livelihoods, that we find better ways of social and economic benefit for all and environmental stewardship for the future of creation in all its glory. 

Listen… Our Canadian Government is in turmoil over the former minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Jody Wilson-Raybould speaking the truth of her experience, of seeming relentless pressure to make a political decision over a legal and ethical one, all being debated and still to be countered, but revealing on many sides, the willingness to pursue political expediency at almost any cost, swirling around this truth teller woman claiming the strength of her indigenous matriarchs.

Speak… in support of indigenous women, minority people in public service like a Sikh national party leader, where they are vulnerable, challenged and attacked, and where their voices are critical to the change we all need for a glorious common good. 

Listen… Once again almost forty from this congregation and the neighbourhood gathered for Dessert and Dialogue about gender diversity, to increase our understanding, recognize our failures to listen, seeing that we are a galaxy of different sexualities and gender identities and that artificial binary systems are inaccurate and destructive for many and limiting for us all, and that freedom in the diversity of who we are together is loving, just, glorious.

Speak… out and stand up with and for others who are excluded and affected by ignorance and prejudice toward difference, and for celebrating diversity and the freedom of being together. This in the face of another expression of the Christian community, the United Methodist Church in the US, failing to fully include people of differing sexual orientations and gender identities in its actions together, requiring us in contrast to speak up and stand out as a Christian community that is inclusive, loving, safe. 

Listen… we gather as the community of Church of the Cross for the Annual General Meeting. Could there be anything glorious!  transfiguring, transforming about a church AGM? Many of us have other experiences. But as a time to report and listen, account for and seek direction in the ministry work of this community, to hear and see the fruits of that work realized and still dreamed, to acknowledge the faithful service of so many offering diverse gifts, and shared in partnership with others from neighbourhood to Synod to the National church and beyond, giving thanks for peoples’ faithful service, commitment and support, and giving thanks to God, the source of all good gifts, maybe God’s glory in Christ Jesus is revealed even in an AGM.     

Speak… as a person of this community, what you hear God calling us to be and do together, of the glory of God, God’s purpose, challenge, correction, praise and thanksgivings revealed and shining in you, for all of us to witness together.

Listen… to our gathering in song and prayer, word and sacraments of water and bread and wine, revealing God’s glory in Christ Jesus for the sake and saving of all and all creation;

And Speak… of this glory, because keeping silent and telling no one any of the things we have seen is not where we can stay, not where we can live, for the sake of one hurting child and a world of need. Listen to Jesus, God’s glorious, beloved, chosen. And Speak in words and actions of this glorious light and life revealed for all. Let it be so, in all our relations, Amen.