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Sunday next before Lent, Year C, 22.2.04
Exod 34.29-34: Moses with two tablets down from Sinai, transfigured
Ps 99: God spoke to Moses and Aaron out of the cloud
2 Cor 3.12-4.2: Moses' veil (glory fading), we: unveiled faces, see glory of Lord, & are being glorified
Luke 9.28-36 (Short): Transfiguration
Collect: grace to perceive his glory, strength to suffer with him, changed into his likeness.
Post Com: We see your glory in face of Jesus, may we reflect his life in word & deed that world may know his power to change & save.(996-96=900)

 Summary: It is only as we die daily to ourselves for others that we grow in the life of glorification.

          All three of our readings plus the Collect and Post Communion are about change, transfiguration, glorification.  Not a bad thing to bring to mind as we approach the beginning of Lent this Wednesday.

In Christ we are called to a continuing process of change and, as St Paul reminds us, we are called to grow into glorification, from one degree of glory into another. We are on a journey.  We have not yet arrived.

          Thus it is not surprising that Saint Paul never says that we have been saved, but always that we are being saved or we shall be saved, for it is an ongoing process, a life-long process.

          This past Wednesday, when I went to check the e-mail, I found, and ran off for Dorothy, 38 pages of notes for the "Growing Gifts" sessions.  The subject material was concerned with various views of "Who can be saved?"  I sampled bits of it along the way, and my strong impression was that all of the materials assumed that "salvation" consists of life after death.

          That is certainly not central to my sense of being called in Christ.  My goal is to become more Christ-like here and now, being changed from one degree of glory to another as I allow myself to be more imbued with the love of God in Christ Jesus.  For the very word "salvation" is basically concerned with being whole and healthy.  As I do this I shall therefore show forth, degree by degree, God's image, his shalom, his peaceful, peaceable, and peace-making good order as made known above all in the life and witness of Jesus of Nazareth.

          Think about this: every time we gather for Christian worship we have a confession of sins.  Why?  Because it is only as we stop to recognize those areas of our life that are less than fully loving that we can grow in those areas.  Some of these areas may be large or small, obvious or subtlely hidden, especially those that feel so much to be part of ourselves, that we say, "That's just me", for they can fit like a glove and hence take a real effort to become aware of them.  I am reminded of Dorothy's telling, as an Alexander Teacher, of the child whose body was badly twisted.  When her teacher had straightened her out, the child said it didn't feel right.  As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews expresses it, some sins cling closely to us.  You might almost say that they "feel right".  And besides, since, in Jesus' words, we are positively to do unto others as we would be done to, therefore, it is imperative on us to do much more than simply refrain from wrongdoing. 

          This growing into Christ is a life-long process, a pilgrimage, in effect. There certainly are times when it feels like the same old grind, but we can never simply rest on our laurels, so to speak.  As the old saying goes, "The one redeeming thing about the person who claims to be a self-made man is that at least he doesn't blame God for it."  God still has more work to do on us, in us and through us.

          And this Lent presents us with another opportunity to continue the process and renew our commitment to it.

          This morning we have had Luke's version of Jesus' transfiguration.  Luke has made a significant change from Mark's version, namely, he has Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about the Exodus that Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem .  At one level, this ties Jesus' passion to the witness of the Law and the Prophets.  That is, it points toward Jesus' passion as being in accordance with the witness of the scriptures.  And by using the word "Exodus" it points to Jesus' passion as being understood as the great, expected messianic Passover.  For in Jewish reckoning there are four great Passovers, with the last and greatest of the four being eagerly awaited.  At the first Passover God created the world.  This is because Genesis 1 was read at Passover.  At the second God made covenant with Abraham "between the pieces".  This is a reference to Genesis 15, when God's presence passed as a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch "between the pieces" of the animal offerings that Abraham had divided and laid out in two rows.  At the third Passover God brought Israel out of Egypt , and at the fourth "Messiah comes!"

          So when Moses and Elijah speak about Jesus' departure, that is, his Exodus, that he will accomplish in Jerusalem , Luke, like Mark and Matthew, is making his own special link between the glory of the transfiguration and the cross, for the way of the cross is the way of glorification.  In our case, to put it simply, it is only as we die to ourselves that we shall live the life of glorification, of continued growth into God's love and the showing forth of that love in the whole of our lives.

          So this Lent let us resolve anew to die to ourselves, in St Luke's words, to "take up our cross daily" that we may be raised to newness of life.  In the words of today's Post Communion: As we see God's glory in face of Jesus, may we reflect his life in word and deed that world may know his power to change and save.