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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - I have been to the mountain edition

Ok, true confession. I am not actually preaching on the Transfiguration (TFig for us cool kids) this week, as I chose to go another direction. This is in part to set up a guest speaker we are having in a couple of weeks. And also, since this is true confession time, because as I was planning out the month I thought, "Transfiguration again? Really? Didnt we just DO that?"

I dont really remember transfiguration looming all that large in the gentle protestantism of my childhood, but since I've been preaching regularly, it sure does seem to come up more often than the liturgical calendar would suggest. Most years, I'm more than ready to make that trip up the mountain, to once again bear witness to the eager cluelessness of the disciples; the surprise re-appearance of those guys from way back in the first act; and the awesome majesty of Jesus. But this year, I didn't think I quite had it in me.

I might have changed my mind, though, if I had read Alyce M McKenzie's article at Patheos BEFORE I chose this week's scripture. If you are preaching TFig this week (or maybe especially if you are not) it is worth a gander. She has a delightful and inviting way of drawing out the humanity in the text. Or, coaxing us humans closer to the text. Whichever, it makes good reading. For example, listen to what she has to say about the role of Moses and Elijah:
When I was in the throes of a very long labor with my daughter, Rebecca, I remember clinging to the hand of a kindly nurse, who was trying to extricate herself from my grasp. "Give me back my hand now, honey," she said, kindly but firmly. "My shift is over now. I've gotta go home." I allowed her to pry my fingers from her hand. She smiled at me, and said, with that wonderfully practical manner that nurses have: "If one of us has to leave, it better be me. Because you're the only one who can have this baby."

The two prophets' shift is over, leaving Jesus with a job that only he can accomplish. He is the only one who can lead this new Exodus, teach, heal, and challenge all the way to Jerusalem, city of his death, and city of his resurrection.

So, what are you preaching on this week? Comments are open for business. Links to texts for this week found here. Art found at Visual Theology.


  1. Yes, it does feel like we just preached Transfiguration, but I really like what Alyce McKenzie has to say. Thank you for posting that. She does a nice job of pointing out how we can identify with the various characters in the story. But, I identify with the nine disciples who did not get the mountaintop experience. I wonder what it was like for them to know that something happened, but it was out of their sight and out of their reach. I am pondering what TFig means for those who don't get the mountaintop vision.

  2. I am going a different direction with T-fig. It is my belief that one of the roles of the communiyt of faith is to help people find those thin places/times where the mountain top experiences are possible. Sometimes these things come as a shock, sometimes they fill us with awe or fear.

    And we also have to appreciate that for some or many of our brothers and sisters these experiences may not come during worhsip (although I have a great story about Awe featuring my daughter and a worship service). I know most of mine have not been anywhere near a church building. So how do we helpo people be open to experience the presence fo God in a very real and palpable way? How do we help them to process it when it happens?

    At least I think that is where I am headed. My early thoughts are here

  3. I love TFig but am tired of preaching it. I think I'm going with the 2 Peter text this time, even though I preached it last time it came around. I think I'm going to focus more on v. 19. I really love the imagery in the admonition: "You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

    I don't have a clear direction to go with it, but I'm trying to ponder the words and see where they take me.

  4. I'm guest preaching this Sunday at my church. It will be the first time preaching since I've had my (almost) 4 month old son...trying to figure out how sermon writing time can coincide with nap time! T-fig Sunday... the struggle for me is how to make it new. In reading the text this weekend, I was struck by God's interruption into Peter's excitement. God's message was to listen to Jesus. How often do we practice the art of holy listening? to God? to one another? My early thoughts are on how they went down the mountain to follow Jesus as he began some of his toughest days. As we move into Lent, do we need an interruption and a reminder to listen more closely?

  5. When the phone rang and I was invited to be the guest preacher the first Sunday in March, I checked my calendar and happily agreed. THEN I looked closer and realized it was Transfiguration. ARGH.

    I think I'm going with the Exodus text. I have a few thoughts noodling around in my head about dwellings and words and Word and I don't know. Ugh, transfiguration.

    Leeann, good luck with the mothering/sermonizing balance. I do all my sermon writing while they are napping or at night. I'd much prefer an uninterrupted afternoon, but I probably wouldn't know what to do with it at this point!

  6. I am a guest preacher this Sunday too and I LOVE Tfig. To me it is so basic to faith and so on-going to faith. I want to talk about "once-born" and 'twice-born' Christians. Those of us who had a mountain top experience are not any holier than those who have been journeying the path of transformation from the beginning of their encounter with God. All too often (especially here in the bible-belt) if you aren't 'born again' with some sort of mountain top experience you are considered a bit defective. But I have met too many Good, Solid, Faithful Christians who have been transformed by their on-going daily walk with Christ rather than glimpsing Moses and Elijah on the Mountain top to forget that kind of transformation. And perhaps it is that kind of transformation that we need to pay attention to anyway.

  7. Not preaching on Tfig, but totally looking for some help on Ash Wednesday.
    I am going the Matthew 6 text, but haven't got a clue as to what I am going to say in like 6 minute homily.
    Oh and next Tuesday will be too late to plan, so if anyone has an idea or two to share, please feel free.

  8. what a time for part of out group to be on a cruise.
    I preach only 1 x a month now and so I am out of practice.

  9. 1-4, one of my recurring themes around Ash Wednesday is that the point of Lent is not a better or thinner or holier or whatever-er us; the point of Lent is for God, space for pain, space for surprise, space for whatever God wants to do.

    We had a fabulous sermon last Sunday that concluded with some great and not-typical suggestions about Lenten disciplines. You can find it at saintmarksaltadena [dot] org, then look at the bottom of the page for the little link to the blog.

    For myself, I'm off on retreat with women of the parish. Our theme is "Along the Way" so this gospel is an easy connection for a homily that will take shape over the weekend.

  10. Just now checking in again. Thanks Betsy. Great words for me to build from.
    Thanks for link too!

  11. T-Fig. Doing Jesus and his wingmen on Spring Break, where strange things happen that change not only the Man, but everyone around him...and afterward they wonder if they just dreamed it all...and if and how they can tell others about it, when the Man said "what happens on the mountain stays on the mountain."

    Can you guess that I'm just back from BE4.0?

  12. I am astonished at this text. Feels like I'm seeing it for the first time. As I read it this week, I'm struck by the fact that Peter, James and John see Jesus as God sees Jesus--dazzling and beloved. I'm remember something Thomas Merton once wrote about an experience he had on the corner of 4th and Walnut in Louisville-- "Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God's eyes. IF ONLY THEY COULD SEE THEMSELVES AS THEY REALLY ARE. IF ONLY WE COULD SEE EACH OTHER THAT WAY ALL THE TIME." (From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander in A Thomas Merton Reader p. 346).

    I'm wondering where the caption for the moment comes from and how helpful it really is. Am seeing this moment on the mountain more as a lifting of the veil.

    Remembering the last stanza of Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.


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