“Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.” (Mark 9:2-8) I am in my third decade of thinking about, teaching and preaching about Jesus’ Transfiguration. Perhaps I am rather slow, but I am not sure that I fully understand what is going on here. Probably the honest thing to admit is after thirty years, I have some hints and guesses. Miracles, of course, are not unusual in the Gospels. However what is strange here is that Jesus, rather than acting, is being acted upon. At the conclusion of this season of Epiphany, the greatest manifestation of his glory is not something that he does, but rather, simply who he is. For a moment, those terrified disciples see him as he really is (or at least to the degree they can handle) and so do we. The detail that stands out for me this time is the conversation; not Peter’s half-baked idea about three shrines, but the unknown conversation among Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Unknown from Mark because he is always in such a hurry, Luke (9:31) tells us that they were speaking about Jesus’ “departure,” his death in Jerusalem. One thing that Moses and Elijah had in common was the unusual nature of their deaths. Moses dies alone before God who buries him. Elijah apparently does not die at all but is translated directly to heaven on that chariot that “swings low” for him. And then there is Jesus. What awaits him and what astounds Moses and Elijah is that this one who is the fulfilment of all the Law and the Prophets is about to die in a very public way in the most gruesome manner. This one who inspired Moses and Elijah is now moving toward Jerusalem (toward Lent) in order to die publicly humiliated with no glory, only shame. Is it not odd that in the end, in our final Sunday of Epiphany, the season of the manifestation of our Lord’s glory, is it not odd that the talk turns to the cross? What does that say to me and to you? How do we now understand that true glory is only lived in sacrificial service? How do we who have beheld his true glory live new lives of service to a world dying to know the truth in order that they too may live lives worthy of this precious Gospel? I admit, that is many questions, but we are headed toward Lent. Have a great week!