Transfiguration Sunday

Today is Transfiguration Sunday: The last Sunday before Lent

Our text today is Luke 9:28-36: Our home in Fiji was very close to the coast, and I loved to take our boat out and enjoy the sea. One weekend, I was invited to a camp with a few other people. When we were swimming, one of the leaders gave me a snorkel and suggested that I could go under water to explore and see what was down there. When I dived down with another person, I realised that this was a different world I was seeing. The things I always saw from the surface were only a fraction of what there was to be seen under the ocean. When I dived into the sea, it was like passing through the veil of the ocean’s surface.

You might be asking yourself, ‘why is the above story relevant to our text today?’ Many of us have been brought up as Christians in the same way as I saw the ocean. We didn’t realise that underneath there were things that could challenge our views. We see the Transfiguration story against this same backdrop. During Jesus’ day, the Israelites took it for granted that they were God’s chosen people, and everybody else was not loved by God. God only favoured them. Suddenly, Jesus arrives and he tries to lift the veil so people can hear his message that God’s love is for everyone. The Israelites were shocked and nearly threw Jesus over the cliff.

Jesus took Peter, John and James up on a mountain where the three disciples had an experience of the veil being pulled back so that they got a glimpse of far more reality than they were used to seeing. They saw Jesus in conversation with Moses and Elijah. They saw Jesus’ face lit up. They saw the presence of God. They had not seen any of these before. They were on the surface but suddenly, they could see through the depths, suddenly the veil was lifted and they saw a lot more. Suddenly, everything was back to normal.

You and I won’t have visions like those the disciples had. Paul says that it is only in Christ that the veil is removed. For this to happen, you need Jesus to intervene. Christ will lift the veil, open your eyes and show the depth of reality that is beyond the reach of ordinary eyesight. Then you will see things that will transform you and impact on you to an extent that it will reshape who you are.

All of us who offer ourselves to Christ are having our veils pulled back. This morning, when we receive the bread and wine, there is a whole lot more reality than usually meets the eye. When our veils are pulled back during worship or at any other time, Jesus leads us back down the mountain to the demands of normal life.

Which kind of veil is at work in your life?
Is it a veil of grace, a gift from God that enables you to begin to understand the mysteries and depth of God’s work in your life?
Or is it a self-imposed veil of willful ignorance that is preventing you from growing in your faith and following Jesus?
These are important questions to think about as we enter the season of Lent. It is a time to recognise both kinds of veils at work in our spiritual journey. Lent calls us to understand God’s love, and remove any pride that would convince us that we are self-sufficient enough to make it through life. Let us confess and acknowledge all the ways we have hindered the free flow of God’s grace in our lives.

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