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Year C, Transfiguration, 2019 – Shine, Jesus, Shine

February 28, 2019 / Molly Douthett / Transfiguration

Welcome back! This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. The passage about the experience comes from Luke this year with attendant passages from Exodus, 2 Corinthians, and Psalm 99. The Transfiguration has been difficult to interpret because it is such an other worldly event; we really do not have any frame of reference. We may have some experience with being in thick fog, which could stand in for the descending cloud. We may have some experience with going up on a mountain and being very weary and drowsy like the disciples were. As for the sound of the voice and the appearance of long dead prophets – well, hmm. Was this an hallucination or did it really happen? Since it is not our own first hand experience, whether we trust the story or not depends on whether we trust Luke and his sources. It also depends on whether we trust the Spirit’s presence in Scripture. Let’s go see what we can discern and share with one another.

Smarts of the Week [01:58]

We did not have a show for Transfiguration Year C in 2016, because I had totaled the car. It was a bad week. YET, we do have shows from Year B and Year A that might spark some ideas about Moses’ and Jesus’ experiences if not the actual texts. The worksheets for this week are below!

This Week’s Texts:

Luke 9:28-36, (37-43a) – [05:08]

We sometimes use the optional material supplied by the Lectionary committee, but have not done so this week. Commentary is divided about what to do with it for this story; there are pros and cons for adding it, and we would love to hear your reasons how you decide. For BODY smart, I wonder if the Transfiguration (metamorphosis in Greek) somehow altered Jesus’ body at a molecular level which made the resurrection possible. This thought distracted me mightily! For an illustration, I have a story about a radiant bride, transformed by a deep certainty about her future. For a special effect, invite your people to “feel” a meeting with a loved person in their bodies. Also, invite them to feel God’s presence in the Priestly Blessings from Numbers.

Luke says that Peter does “not know what he said” but for MATH smart, Peter is making a deduction based on limited information. David says it’s like the calculation made when you haven’t really been listening to someone and they ask you point blank for an opinion and you have to extrapolate from where you checked out of the conversation to where you think they might be wanting you to be. Check out the worksheet to see how you could graph this! Peter was attempting to make sense out of his experience and so we maybe ought not ding him for not knowing the much larger picture. Do we understand it any better?

  • BODY smart – [06:40]
  • MATH smart – [11:42]

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 – [16:42]

Paul makes a specific reference to Moses’ story in Exodus. He suggests that the veil Moses needed to use has carried over into the current generation. It has obscured comprehension of God’s plan, but now, through Jesus, we can see clearly. As a MATH smart illustration, think about what it would be like to only see the world through one color on the spectrum. If you could only see red, what would you see? Paul suggests that seeing the world through Christ opens one’s vision to the whole spectrum of light. For a special effect, make some filters with with different colored cellophane and let people look through them. Or, show some pictures of deep space objects taken with certain wavelength filters.

Paul is very confident of the hope we have because of the resurrection and writes of bold action available to us because of it. This made me think of the various outdoor activities that rely on equipment to keep a BODY alive and how people trust it so thoroughly they can experience some spectacular places. Paul also says that we can see the glory of the Lord reflected in Jesus and so begin to mirror it in our own lives. For a special effect, play the improv game called “Mirror.” If you and your partner do it well, observers won’t be able to tell who is leading and who is following. Paul would like for us all to mirror Jesus so completely that our actions look like his.

Psalm 99 – [27:19]

I’m pretty certain the Psalm was selected for its reference to Moses and a pillar of cloud, but you might be able to connect it to the Gospel passage with some liturgical movement. I have some suggestions for this on the BODY smart worksheet. You could use similar movements to present both the Psalm and Luke passage. If you have liturgical dancers in your congregation, find out if they have done this before and would be willing to try it.

David was coming up with – not much – for MATH smart in this passage until he thought about Mr. Spock. How would the uber-logical Vulcan respond to the psalmist’s exhortation to extol God? Would it make sense to do this? In the podcast, we decided that a simple factual statement of something’s surpassing worth would probably do the trick, and Spock would extend praise – but without falling to his knees or waving his hands above his head. Kirk, on the… other… hand… wouldbe… alloverit.

  • BODY smart – [27:40]
  • MATH smart – [30:28]

Exodus 34:29-35 – [33:59]

MATH smart seemed to be in short supply for this passage, too. But flow charts came to the rescue! Download the worksheet to see the example David provides. Flow charts are diagrams – that MATH smart people love – showing an algorithm, work flow, or process. In this story, Moses has some steps he goes through, and a flow chart can be a good way of illustrating it. For a special effect, you can include some specific instructions for your own congregation in their own flow chart, as well!

Michelangelo sculpted Moses and because of Jerome’s translation of this passage from Exodus, he gave him horns. The Hebrew word for “horn” and “shine” share a root and context helps in translation. I wondered if Moses exposure to God’s holy presence might not have scarred his face, which could have been interpreted by those who saw him as protrusions. I also wondered if his transformed appearance might not also be like a severe burn. For a BODY smart special effect, encourage your congregation to see the people behind the faces they meet. Also, hand out small mirrors and give everyone the chance to look at their own faces, without critique or judgement. Simply see how they look and then know that God loves that face, just as it is.

Image credit: The Saviour’s Transfiguration, by Theophanes the Greek, early 15th century, public domain


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