2 Kings 2:1–12
In between times
The OT scripture for today is found in 2 Kings, and it is an account of Elijah and Elisha.
It is a period when everyone knew the great prophet Elijah would be taken back to heaven. Elijah knew he was going, numerous prophets of Bethel and Jericho knew Elijah would be taken away, and Elisha himself knew that his renowned master was going.
It was an in-between time of change.
However, Elisha refused to be discouraged.
Three times he refused to leave his mentors side. He refused to be swayed by the many voices of his colleagues, and told them to be silent. The company of prophets followed at a distance, waiting, watching, wondering what the outcome would be. “One era is ending, but the next has not yet begun, and everyone in the story is occupied by the implications of the succession” writes WM. Loyd Allen of Feasting on the Word.
Allen writes ‘in-between times’ yield a glimpse of theological themes such as “the flow of time in relation to the constancy of the eternal”, “infinite Spirit with finite humanity”, and “faithful response in the face of the unknown and the Unknowable”.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday, and Transfiguration is considered an ‘in-between’ time. A time in between Epiphany and Lent. A time when Jesus is seen, heard and followed by his disciples and yet not recognised as Saviour. A time when God’s timing and Spirit is contrasted with earthly timing and human mortality. It is a time when the voice of God asks disciples to “listen to” Jesus, and our response is to be faithful.
Like Elisha we are to:
• faithfully persevere.
• not succumb to fear brought on by immanent change.
• trust in YHWH for divine timing, and trust in the Infinite Spirit of God.
For you and I to Glorify God, (to reflect and reveal the magnificence, beauty, love of God) we are wise to learn the lessons of transfiguration and the in-between times.
to See Jesus,
to Listen to Jesus,
to Follow Jesus.
Seeing God, and Seeing God in Jesus.
When Peter James and John Saw the transfigured Jesus on the mountain, they were witness to the relationship between God and Jesus. Mountains are the high places in scripture; a place where divinity is experienced. Certainly for Peter James and John they witnessed the Glory of God through the changing of Jesus’ face and dazzling white appearance, bleached in heavenly purity. They saw Moses and Elijah, they experienced God overshadow them in a cloud, and they were terrified.
Listen to Jesus
Peter tries to contain the Glory of God by suggesting they build dwelling places for Jesus, Moses & Elijah. Peter is voicing a theology which compartmentalises the experience of God to a ‘holy’ place, a place one can count on meeting Divinity (like the Temple in Jerusalem). The disciples are still to truly understand that God is everywhere and is in everything.
God speaks to a terrified Peter, James and John and affirms Jesus as “my son, my chosen”. It is almost as if God interrupts Peter’s bad suggestion of containing divinity on the top of the mountain, and says: I don’t think so, ‘Listen to my son, listen to him’.
Listening has an element of obeying; of following.
If I tell my children to do the dishes, they haven’t ‘heard’ until the dishes are actually clean.
If I tell my children to make their beds, they haven’t heard until the beds are made.
If God tells the disciples to Listen, they haven’t heard until they have followed.
Jesus comes down from the mountain, and the disciples follow him.
Leaving the mountain top experience, Jesus leads his disciples back to the everyday reality of a broken & wounded world. To follow Jesus is to reveal the Glory of God in the difficulties of our daily life. Jesus call his disciples to follow, over and again in different ways.
In the transfiguration, God comes in a cloud to say ‘listen’,
and listening means obediently following.
To Glorify God we see, listen and follow Jesus, the Son of God.
The good news of transfiguration is that we have been in the presence of God. We have seen Jesus. And Jesus has glorified God. The Good News is that Jesus calls us to follow, and shows us the way. We are blessed, and are a blessing to others.
However, despite the promise of God in transfiguration
(God’s Spirit outside human mortality)
(Heavenly time outside earthy bounds of a ticking clock)
I can’t help but make a parallel association between the Elijah/Elisha story and the in-between time of Metro Society’s majestic past and her unknown future. Metro’s past echo’s the magnitude of Elijah’s testimony to the glory of God. Metro Society has been ecumenical from the beginning; promoting gender and racial equality when it was unfashionable, standing the test of time as the Great Lady of Methodist tradition. However, Metro is in the midst of imminent change, and with all the uncertainty, I sense the prophets in the distance waiting, watching, wondering what the outcome will be, pre-occupied by the implications of inevitable succession of spiritual leadership.
When we read the Elijah/ Elisha chronicles we witness the spirit of God which is not extinguished, but perpetuated in the life of Elisha.
When we follow Jesus down the mountain, we trust in the perfect heavenly timing of God and the unquenchable Spirit of God.
As we live through the in-between time of Metro Society we trust our covenantal God who Loves with a love bigger and deeper and longer than any chocolates or hearts that have been given today.
I want to share the story of a child who drew a picture of her family.
She drew her mother, father, sister, brother and grandmother. Around her grandmother’s head and shoulders, she coloured a bright yellow aura of light which drew attention to the special relationship she had with her gogo. In a parallel story the child was asked to draw a picture of Jesus, and when the picture was finished the child had drawn Jesus with features of her grandmother’s face. In both drawings the child had given her grandmother the highest compliment: Her grandmother had revealed to her the Glory of God. What a wonderful testimony.
The invitation today is to reveal the Glory of God to the world around us.
An effective way to glorify God is to see, listen and follow Jesus, even when we know there are hardships in the forthcoming journey. We glorify God when we faithfully trust our God who stands outside of created time and has promised Eternal Spirit on all people. Our God who empowers us to faithfully persevere. Trusting our God who has changed us and transformed us through our relationship with Jesus.
The homework (if you want homework) is to draw a picture of you and your family. In this picture imagine the relationships, and try to portray the love of God in each person. As you draw the family, place a yellow aura of light around yourself. Imagine the special relationship you have with each of the family, and imagine that they can see the light of Christ in You. This is our testimony of Glorifying God.
May we listen obediently and follow Jesus down the mountain into our everyday lives and glorify God, faithfully trusting even times that are unknown and Unknowable.
God Give us the strength,
Jesus Reveal yourself again
Spirit Live forever in Your people.
Amen, Amen, Amen.