Saturday, February 14, 2015

Bishop’s Note: Last Week in Epiphany - Jesus Transfigured

In this, the last week of Epiphany, we see once again how the person and character of Jesus are made manifest in the scriptures.  Over this season we've seen how Jesus was made manifest through his father’s declaration; we've seen how Jesus was made manifest through the recognition of demons; and we've seen how Jesus was made manifest through his power to heal with just a word.  This week we journey with Jesus, Peter, James, and John to the Mount of Transfiguration, where Jesus is transfigured and the voice of God comes forth from the cloud declaring: “This is my beloved son; listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)

The season of Epiphany is bracketed by God’s own declaration making the person and character of Jesus manifest as the Son of God – the long expected Christ.  The first week of Epiphany we journeyed with Jesus as he entered into the waters of the Jordan.  The skies opened up and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus.  Then, the voice of God called out from heaven: “You are my son; with you I am well pleased.”  (Mark 1:11)  God the Father addressed his son in that tender moment – thus revealing the true identity of Jesus.  Still, you can imagine that those around wondered: “Did we really hear that?  Was that thunder?”  How simple it would have been to rationalize it away and simply move on with your daily routine.  

On the Mount of Transfiguration, there was no way to rationalize the event or simply move on with the disciples’ daily routines.  Peter, James, and John were invited by Jesus to go off and pray up on the mountain.  There, scripture tells us, Jesus was transfigured before their very eyes: “And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.”  (Mark 9:2b-3)  This alone would have been miraculous – the laws of nature being suspended for the benefit of man and the glory of God.  However, God decides to put an even finer point on it.  Moses and Elijah – representing the Law and the Prophets – appear alongside of Jesus, leaving no doubt that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets!  “And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.” (Mark 9:2-4)

Lastly, and in a way so as to make things even more abundantly clear to the sometimes dimwitted disciples, God himself speaks from the cloud, directly addressing Peter, James, and John: “This is my beloved son; listen to him.” (Mark 9:7)

This season of Epiphany, have you been open to the manifestation of Jesus? Have you met him at home, while reading the scriptures in the quiet of your room?  Have you met him in the sermon at church?  Have you met him as you've extended your hand to receive the host, hearing those blessed words: “The body of Christ, the bread of heaven?”  

The Lord has blessed me this season, and I can honestly say, “YES!” to all three of those, and many more.  Perhaps most poignantly for me, he made himself manifest these last two weekends in the Leadership Retreats.  I saw Jesus glorified in those Vestries and Bishop’s Committees.  I saw people excited about ministry, and sometimes convicted by reality.  I saw a recommitment on the part of those men and women of the diocese, who rededicated themselves to bringing people to Jesus.

Ultimately the question isn't, “Is Jesus being made manifest?”  The question is, “How are we responding to his being made manifest.”

I pray you every blessing and peace as we conclude the season of Epiphany and begin the season of Lent.

Catechism Questions 73 - 75

73.     What should be your attitude as you await Jesus’ return?
I should anticipate with joy the return of Jesus as the completion of my salvation. The promise of his return encourages me to seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit, to live a holy life, and to share the hope of new life in Christ with others. (Titus 2:11-14)
74.    How should you understand Jesus’ future judgment?
When the Lord Jesus Christ returns, the world as we know it will come to an end. All that is wrong will be made right. All people who have died will be resurrected and, together with those still living, will be judged by Jesus. Then each person will receive either eternal rejection and punishment, or eternal blessing and welcome into the fullness of life with God. (Matthew 25:31-46)
75.    How should you live in light of Jesus’ coming return for judgment?
Because I do not know when Jesus will come, I must be ready to stand before him each and every day of my life, I should eagerly seek to make him known to others, and I should encourage and support the whole Church, as best I can, to live in readiness for his return. (Matthew 25:1-13

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