Thursday, February 4, 2016

Can You See God?

"Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, open the eyes of my heart, I want to see see you high and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory, pour out your power and might, as we sing holy, holy, holy,...I want to see you."

I have had that praise chorus stuck in my head the last few days as I have been thinking about the Gospel text for this next Sunday, the Sunday we call "Transfiguration Sunday" in the Christian tradition.  It is the last Sunday of the Season of Epiphany and the Sunday before the beginning of Lent.  Each year we examine this supernatural revelation of who Jesus is, revealed to his disciples to help them know a bit about who he was for them.  For modern Christians, this text speaks to us about our need to seek the God who announced how special his son was to the disciples who followed him and how this man can be revealed to our lives too, in many special ways.

Jesus took the three people closest to him up the mountain where he wanted to pray.  Peter, James, and John were the "inner circle" of the disciples, the ones who were privy to many of the inside secrets of faith that Jesus would share with them.  Perhaps he included them because he needed some of his followers to know what to pass on to future generations in the Jesus Tradition that makes up a large part of the Gospels we read.  These three men were with him as he was on the mountain in prayer when suddenly something fantastic and incredible and unbelievable happened.  Jesus' appearance was changed before them and he was joined by two figures from Hebrew history whose end of life on earth was different than others.  Moses ended his life as he crossed into the countryside away from the people of Israel and was never seen again.  Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire.  Both men represent the Law and the Prophets, figures that the Israelites considered righteous and holy.

Peter was so awestruck with this divine revelation that he wanted to live on the mountain with them.  He suggested that a "booth" or tent be built for each one of them so that they could remain there.  Perhaps these dwellings were a bit like shrines so that these disciples could behold and adore the personages before them bathed in light.

Jesus could not answer Peter in regard to his suggestion because a voice from heaven spoke from the cloud around them words that Jesus had heard at his baptism.  This time, however, the words were directed at the disciples who were present--"This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!"  The disciples knew that Jesus was a special man and teacher and could work miracles but now they had been told directly that he was the Son of God.  They were nonplussed and could not speak and told no one about this special experience they had.  After all, who would believe them anyway?

How do you experience the presence of God in your life?  Does God come to you in silence, in nature, in the power of the thunderstorm or in the silence of a snowfall?  Does God make himself known to you in the face or voice of a child, in the last breath of a loved one?     Can you "see" God in the world around you as you live among and with others and experience the range of experiences that are common in life?  Can you hear God's voice speaking in response to God's commandment to "Listen to him!"as God spoke to the disciples?

We are the church of the Still Speaking God, in the United Church of Christ.  We believe that God is still speaking and will always be speaking to those who want to hear God's voice.  We believe that there is a continuing testament of God's Word that is given daily to those who are seeking to do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with God.  That Word of God is not written on paper but is written on the hearts of those who seek to know and serve God and their neighbor daily.

Transfiguration is a word that means change of appearance.  It is closely related to the word Transformation, which is about a change of being.  Even as transfiguration was known by the way Jesus looked, transformation is revealed by the way a person acts or conducts oneself.  We are being transformed daily as we look and listen and watch for signs that God is speaking to us.  Then, when we act according to God's Will for our lives, we continue to be transformed, day by day, little by little, until finally we leave this life and experience the greatest transformation ever, one that grants us entrance into the eternal life prepared for those who seek to follow God in this life.

"From glory to glory he's changing me....his likeness and image to perfect in me, the love of God for the world."  Another song from the past that speaks to our thoughts today.  May God always be at work in you to bring about God's Will and Way for your life.  And may God open your eyes so you will see Jesus in the world around you as you hear God's voice speak to your spirit.  

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