Posted by: mikebackup | February 8, 2013

Let it shine!

Luke 9.28-43

The Transfiguration

28About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. 32Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters— one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

The Healing of a Boy With an Evil Spirit

37The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40I begged your disciples to drive it out,

but they could not.” 41“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 42Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

In the Harry Potter stories there are terrifying creatures called Dementers. When they get hold of anyone they literally suck the life and soul out of the person. They only way to defeat them is to use a spell called an Expecto-petronum that transforms the situation. Harry finds out it’s a very hard spell to do because it depends on bringing life, happiness and positivity using your own memories and experience when faced with a very difficult situation. In the end he grows in confidence and can summon this spell when he understands the transformative power of love and positive thoughts.

We can feel the life being sucked out of us at times through illness, family difficulty, stress at work, bereavement, to name a few life experiences that act like Dementors. As life goes on we get more of these experiences and life can become dark and lonely. I love the idea of an Expecto-petronum because in those dark situations that’s what we need to do in order to not be dragged down into the darkness. To use past experiences of love and happiness to transform how we feel in a dark moment is very hard to do – but we have to try.

The reading today offers a burst of positive transforming power like an Expecto-petronum. There is a clever interweaving of stories past and stories to come, both reminding us that God doesn’t give up and his love is transformative. In the Old Testament we read that Moses went up into the cloud to speak with God and when he came back down his face shone with the glory of God. God hadn’t abandoned them and was now showing the way. Here the disciples go up the mountain and the cloud is there, so is Moses, and so is Jesus and he is shining. God again has not abandoned them and was now showing them the way. Afterward Jesus goes onto heal a young boy and people are amazed, but it’s not without exasperation on the part of Jesus. The disciples and those around lacked true belief.

“O unbelieving and perverse generation,”

We can be touched by God, see his glory, but then still lack belief, reminding us we still have to respond to what we have experienced. There is clearly a human Jesus speaking here, but there is also the worrying reflection that God’s patience may not be infinite

“how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?

While the reality of that may not ultimately be known, what we do know is that love does transform and that transcends race, creed and religion. It’s almost the ultimate proof of God, because when it is seen we are like those at the end of the reading amazed at what we have seen.

In order to transform our lives our world we must bring to mind God’s work in it from the beginning and draw strength from that.

A really easy way of drawing on the reality of transformative love is to watch an inspiring program like Secret Millionaire or DIY SOS. Strip away the gloss and entertainment and you are left with profound examples of love that even though the vast majority have no mention of Christianity we can recognise God’s Spirit at work. Here’s a good example of a millionaire humbled by the work of a charity trying to help single Mums. She gave a generous amount and then more importantly gave her time so that together they could transform many lives that were experiencing real difficulties.

The tears we might shed or after we notice how we feel different deep in ourselves is God showing us his glory through the reality of ordinary lives like he always has. Use it and believe! Savour the feeling and emotion and make a special effort to shine at those moments. That’s a good challenge, but an even bigger challenge is to bring to mind those positive times when we are suffering. That’s the power of hope and the power of faith. We might not be wizards or have a magic wand, but faith at its best, when we use God’s power through thick and thin is no less magical.

Prayer

Maker of the world, we praise you for the whole creation.

Yours is the power, yours is the glory.

Maker of the world, we praise you for your presence in the world.

Yours …

For human love, which is a mirror of your loving spirit.

Yours …

For friendship, which is a mirror of your unifying spirit.

Yours …

For imagination, which flows from your creative spirit.

Yours …

Transfigure us, Lord, so that all the world may see you through our lives and the whole earth declare,

Yours is the power, yours is the glory.

Amen.


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