Transfigured? Coming Back Down the Mountain - 2/11/18

TRANSFIGURED?: … COMING BACK DOWN THE MOUNTAIN

Luke 9: 28-36

Heavenly Father thank you for the glimpse of glory, … a sneak peak, … a preview
of the resurrected life.
Amen.
Everyone has insights, … experiences when the veil of commonness is briefly
rolled back … and we see into an object or a person or an event.
We see it, … him, … her or them, in a way we never saw it before.
We see it in a broader context than, what maybe, others seeing the same object of
our perception … do not see. … We might really see the beauty of a flower, …
a flower we had looked at a hundred times before … but now suddenly, … it is
extraordinary to our senses. … We may see the truth of something or someone, …
a truth that had, up till then, … eluded us. … We may grasp the goodness of a
person or an event, … a goodness others may not understand … actually perceive
as bad.
All these experiences are insights into reality without the external appearances of
the reality being changed. … The change takes place in the person who is doing
the observing.
Certainly the Transfiguration scene was an insight … but it was more than that.
First, … three people, … not counting Jesus, Moses and Elijah, … had the same
experience at the same time. … While that experience was an insight into the real
Jesus, … it was also a physical vision of an objectively changed reality, …
changed before their physical eyes … and not merely their faith eyes.
Since they would have been able to ask each other; … “Did you see what I saw?”
… and get the same answer, … we can conclude that this was an experience on
level one, … the level of earth, time, space, … the physical level.
Yet, at the same time, … the fact that they all heard the Heavenly Voice, …
the same voice and message Jesus heard at His baptism, … means that this
experience, … though physical, … was also a spiritual one, … one that entered and
affected their inner beings.
Clearly, this was a preview of, … a sneak peek at, … a sampling of the resurrected
life.
That life will be physical in some yet-to- be-disclosed way. … What is disclosed,
is that our bodies will be transformed to fit the divine realm … but not so
transformed that we will not be able to communicate or to be recognized as the
unique individual that we are.

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At the same time, … that life will be, … (what is the best word for it?); …
Supernatural, … spiritual, … physical … without being solid.
What is now perceived as “ordinary,” … that is, without glory, … will then glow.
There will be no need for insight then, … for reality will not be hidden …
but glorious, … radiant, … revealed, … obvious.
Here’s a big one!: … There will be no need for faith either, … for all will be seen
in all its dimensions, … simultaneously.
So, … for all their vision of reality of Jesus as it, … He, … really is, …
the disciples still need faith, … insight, … for the time being.
The three disciples had a religious experience, … one in which the monotony of
reality … took on a dimension of splendor, … everything was seen under a bright
light, … its hidden glory became visible to both the naked eye … and the eye of
faith.
Great as it was, … it did not last.
They got a glimpse of glory, … a sneak peek, … a preview of resurrected life …
but only for a brief moment.
Unfortunately, … they would have to come down from this mountain experience
… and live once again on the molehill of ordinary time.
In ordinary time, … they will learn they always have the Word with them, …
the glory of God contained in the mind and will of God.
The same glorious reality they experienced on the mountain, is present on the
molehill, … just as real and potentially powerful, … if they would but listen.
Seeing the divine is reserved for Heaven and very special earthly occasions …
but hearing the divine in the Word of God is always possible and available.
“Mountain” experiences, … “religious” experiences, … visual experiences, …
truth experiences, … cannot be fabricated. … There is no known method to
produce them. … They are gifts that are given to us at the moment … but they can
be remembered. … They can help us to know intuitively … the glory hidden in the
ordinary … and help to bring it out … but they cannot substitute for the Word …
which is always present and which needs to be brought out in actions and attitudes.
We sometimes pray for God to reveal himself visibly, … to confirm our trust by a
discernible emotionally felt sign. …
This story teaches that even if God did … and He sometimes does; … it would not
make much difference. … If we have a “mountain” experience, … remembering it
will make a difference. … It will strengthen our faith and our resolve as it enables
us to see the end game … but remembering the Word, however, … will do the
same.

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“Mountain” experiences are nice … but unnecessary.
Visions are no substitute for faith in the Word.
With the harsh realism of Jesus Christ, … we are to listen to Him and follow in His
steps, … confident that what the disciples saw, … the hidden glory that Jesus
always had, … we shall see and experience at the eternal Easter.
For God is always present and present everywhere. … Seen or not, … God was
always present in Jesus, … as Jesus is now in us.
Jesus was intensely, … always and everywhere, … aware of the divine presence
within Him, … even though we are not.
Awareness of the genuine God within Jesus, … formed His attitudes.
The same Jesus who was revealed in transfigured glory … is present in His
revealed Word … and is the same divine glory.
Extraterrestrial phenomena: … It is impossible to tell from this story just exactly
what happened. … We cannot tell how much is physical fact … and how much is
metaphor or spiritual fact. … That said, … there is no doubt that this is a story that
wants to say the “extraterrestrial” happened. … This was a sight … and not
merely an insight.
Such phenomena do occur and we simply cannot explain them. … Some simply
rule out the notion that reality exists on other levels than our own and deny even
the possibility that visions of other dimensions of reality can occur.
Yet even those of us who are open to these other dimensions, … know that such
visions or experiences do not really produce faith. …
They may and should strengthen faith … but not necessarily or automatically.
The three disciples in this account do not seem to have had any noticeable change
in their ability to put faith in Jesus after this vision. … In fact, it was only after
Jesus’ resurrection that they understood what they experienced … and only then
could they even talk about it.
Believers know that there is at least one extraterrestrial world, Heaven …
and most believers are open to the possibility that there are even more worlds out
there in space and even on earth. …
knowing what we now know through the study of psychology … we would say
there are even “worlds” within a person. … What believers also know is that such
discoveries will not affect faith or render faith unnecessary, … so long as we live
in this dimension. … Glimpses into other dimensions are wonderful … but it is
really the ever-present and available Word of God that really reveals the “inside”
of God … and our relationship with Him.
When the disciples came down the mountain and re-entered ordinary reality, …
“ordinary” as we perceive it, … the vision was gone … but the Word, …
Jesus, … was still present. … So it is with us.

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The meaning of the Transfiguration: … The transfiguration, … like all truly
religious experience, … is both a real event … and an anticipation of future glory.
In this case, … it is an anticipation of the resurrection glory of Jesus, …
including our share in it.
It provided these three most intimate friends of Jesus with a glimpse of the, …
not yet historically, … risen Lord … to help them get through the upcoming rough
days, … the persecution over the horizon.
It assured them that despite apparent abandonment by God, … Jesus is God’s Son
and Servant. … He will be successful.
As a revelation of the hidden quality of Jesus’ life, … the transfiguration was a
guarantee not only of later glory … but also of the present quality and strength of
their own life when Jesus would be raised and be enabled to enter into them
through His Spirit.
This intense quality of life can, … will … and does … shine through in the life of a
disciple, … especially at prayer. …
However, it will never replace suffering in this life. … We can no more skip the
cross … than Jesus did, … even though we, … like Him at Gethsemane, …
would want to.
We can ascend the mountain to get eternal vision … but we must come back down.
All we really have is Jesus’ Word, … a living Word, … a Word we are called upon
to plant again in this world … now that Jesus’ bodily person has transcended to the
eternal world.
Trans: … “Trans” is Latin for “across”. … Whether we transfigure, … transcend
… or transform, … we go across one boundary into another.
We Christians still live within the boundary of time and space … but we have also
journeyed by identification and communion with Christ into the “boundaries” of
the realm of God.
Because we live in both worlds simultaneously, … our focus and attention shifts
back and forth … and can drive us a little crazy at times.
We do have our moments when concentration on God’s presence lifts us
temporarily out of this earthly world … but mostly they are but fleeting glimpses
of a later permanent experience of the glory of God. …
The presence of God is always there; … the “glory,” that is, … the felt presence of
God, … for now, … regrettably … is our “Coming back down the mountain”; … it
comes and goes.
AMEN