There is nothing but sky and cloud all around us, as we rise up out of the confusion of our transport. We are only half way up, but the vista is breathtaking- if not a little cold and damp. We waited at this little shop that sold orange and pomegranate juice, while these vehicles zoomed around moving tourists to and from the top. What wasn't clear to us at that point was that these paths up the mountain were one way, and only wide enough to fit the car. Which meant, once we piled into the van, I could look out of the window and only see tree’s below me. No ground. You have to see it to believe it. You see we were headed up mount tabor, to the place where today's gospel took place, to encounter something you have to see in order to believe. Luke prepares the ground for us this morning, but buckle in my friends- its a one way road.
The witness of the transfiguration happens in Matthew, Mark, and Luke- known as the canonical gospels- because they share similar thematic elements. Luke, being the third of our gospels, has influences of Matthew and Mark, but its focal point is different. In the other Gospels, when jesus is transfigured, we go right into hearing about how he again fits into the wider story arch of salvation. This is important news, indeed it is good news. In Luke, however, immediately following the transfiguration we are thrown into the needs of the world given to us in a healing story. This whole event is about a transformative relationship. The power, glory, splendour, and confusion of the Transfiguration would be like watching the Coronation of a new Sovereign, landing on Mars, curing cancer, ending war, and eradicating nuclear weapons all at the same time and in the same moment. Our senses would be overwhelmed and disorientated, just as the disciples were in the Gospel by such a world changing event.
What happens at the top of this mountain means that the work of the world becomes even more acute to us, because in all this grand pageantry and spectacle, Jesus doesn't rest and wait. Remember, this is the King born in a stable, Immanuel, God with us, who came to live as one of us because he needed to be this close to us. This is the Jesus of relationships, who comes to us in every Eucharist and gives us his Body again and again to bring us closer to him in everything we are and do. And sometimes, like the disciples in the gospel this morning, it means we need a big thundering transfiguration to really believe that all this stuff we do and say is both real and matters, because it can feel so distant and impractical. But this is when Jesus opens in our lives these mountain top moments to remind us that this is both a real and living experience. And we are about to experience one of those mountain top relationships, but you gotta see it to believe it.
In a few moments we will pray over and install our new council and parish leadership, a transfiguration moment for us- as every leadership transition is. In these people, full of new gifts gifts and abilities we will be led into new and exciting places, grounded in our story, to grow the kingdom of God which this parish is called to live. We will have moments of joy and pain, success and challenge, as we try and understand this new direction, but that's not any different than what our Gospel says to us this morning. The transfiguration, our transfiguration, is grounded in relationships which change the world. We are made to be in community, and this community helps make us who we are because of who we meet here- which is Christ. We will pray, we will sing, we will congratulate, and we will come again to the edge of the cross to receive in us again the body of Christ, which is food for the road ahead of us. Like the road up the mountain of the Transfiguration, it's one way for us- which is into the life saving cross and resurrection of Jesus- the greatest story of love and relationship ever lived. This is where all of this is heading, all of our work, witness, and growth, is headed into the cross- because by the cross we are saved and redeemed, in order to live a kingdom life here and now. The need is great around us, the table is set, there is enough for everyone. Come encounter the transfiguration of your life, parish and world, today in the dazzling glory of this simple liturgy. May we, you and I together, continue to challenge, invite, taste and see the kingdom here in this place. Jesus is showing us the way with his transfiguring life all around us, do you see it?