Message from Our Pastor
Excerpts from Pastor Hoffman’s homily for February 23, 2020. Relevant text: Exodus 24:12-18 & Matthew 17:1-9.
Remember that? The product is Heinz Ketchup (a Pennsylvania product), and every time I hear the word “Transfiguration,” the song goes through my head.
And, I can’t help but think that when the disciples were up there, then were coming down, they had a tremendous anticipation, right?
“This is great! Now wehave a story to tell!”
But Jesus says, “Don’t tell anyone what you’ve seen today, until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
They had to have said, “You’re kidding, right? We’re supposed to keep this to ourselves? There is no way we are going to be able to do that!”
They had this anticipation of being able to tell people about this. Not only did they see Jesus and hear God’s voice in the clouds, they saw Moses and Elijah (how they knew it was Moses and Elijah is way beyond me).
You know they’re going to come down and people are going to ask, “Now what was that all about? What happened?”
And, what are they going to say? “Uh, we can’t tell you.”
They can’t even say, “We can’t tell you until the Son of Man is raised from the dead,” because then the people would say, “What??!!”
Now, we also have that anticipation going on in the Old Testament.
Moses going up the mountain because God had called him. And when he gets up there, the mountain looks like it’s on fire, there’s thunder and lightning, there’s the brightness of God’s glory.
Everybody else? They’re down at the bottom of the mountain. Down there, the Israelites are anticipation Moses coming back down the mountain.
And, Moses is on the mountain for forty days. That’s a long time to wait. The Israelites have no idea of what’s happening. Is Moses even coming back down? And, when he does, what’s going to happen?
People don’t do very well with anticipation and that energy, if they can’t do something about it.
What does Israel do? They go to Moses’s brother Aaron, and say, “We need to do SOMETHING! Tell us what we can DO! The anticipation is killing us!”
(Here’s why God didn’t call Aaron, but called Moses instead)Aaron says, “OK. Give me all your gold and we’ll make an image. That’ll give us something to focus on.”
And they made a golden cow, an idol, because there was nothing else to do.
Moses does, eventually, come down the mountain.
Jesus, Peter, James and John come down the mountain.
It’s great to be up on the mountain. Glorious things happen up top. Transfiguration happens on top of the mountain. You meet God on top of the mountain. And, it’s really tempting to want to stay there.
But, we can’t. Jesus always tells us to come back down, because here is where stuff really happens. Here iswhere we interact with other people, here is where we learn.
The reason to go up the mountain is to come back down and do ministry among all the others down here at the bottom of the mountain.
Yes, the mountaintop is great, and transfiguration is a wonderful festival. It gives us that glory we need as we anticipate Easter.
But between now and Easter, there are six weeks of Lent. There are six weeks at the bottom of the mountain. There are six weeks to learn, to look at the idols we have, so that we can walk away from them or destroy them.
To learn what it is that God puts on those tablets for us. To learn what God calls us to.
It’s anticipation. And, there should be, even in Lent, some energy for it.
Down here is where we grow as a people of God, anticipating that excitement of being raised with God. Then we can tell EVERYBODY how we, ourselves, have been transfigured by the love of God at the top of our own mountaintop experience. Amen.