Friday after Ash Wednesday – Mark 9:2-9

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

There is a hymn for the day of Transfiguration in our hymnals, #413 in LSB but it is also found in other hymnals “O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair.” It taken from the Sarum Breviary, a medieval English liturgical source from Salisbury. We sing the translation made by John Mason Neale who died in 1866.

I love this hymn, but I must admit to always looking up to the congregants singing it on the second verse. There, in the second line, we note the “incarnate Lord holds converse high.” Of course, Neale wrote these words long before the invention of the athletic shoe and meant a poetic form of “conversation” with that phrase, but I wonder how many in the parish envision Jesus standing there with sneaker raised above his head, holding converse high. My hope is that the image is so ridiculous they immediately cast about for another meaning and land on the right one. Not so sure my adolescent self would have done that, though, to be honest.

But I should not be surprised if there are a few who are wondering why the iconography of the church never shows Jesus holding up a sneaker. How many of my own ideas about Jesus on this day are not equally laughable. Like Peter, James, and John, we come to this mountain top and are utterly out of our depth. Jesus is revealed to be the Son of God, glowing with a heavenly light our eyes cannot bear. A voice from heaven speaks. Ancient prophets have elevated conversation with the Lord. Who is surprised that Peter babbles? I am no better. God’s answer to my own befuddlement is that all the glory is withdrawn, and I am left with Jesus the carpenter’s son from Nazareth. He is all I see. Together Jesus and the disciples walked down the hill to the valley which is before them.

This glorious Jesus, this One who defies my imagination and ability to understand, this Jesus walks with me through Lent’s vale. He will, in a few short weeks take up a cross and ascend another hill to another sort of glory, but they are connected in a way which I also do not fully understand. I do not need to understand this. Jesus has died for my sins and yours. He takes you by the hand today to walk with you to redemption and resurrection.

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