Transfiguration Sunday

"The Transfiguration" by Alexandr Ivanov
“The Transfiguration” by Alexandr Ivanov

Last Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday in the church calendar.  Tom and I returned to Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Shelby to worship at the 8:30 service.  Transfiguration Sunday is celebrated the last Sunday before Lent, and because Easter is early this year, Lent starts on Wednesday.

This was only our second Sunday at Aldersgate.  We liked it the first Sunday but had the “big” snowstorm and resultant ice the next Sunday so church was canceled.  Then last Sunday we drove to Aldersgate and saw a sign saying that there was only one worship service at 10:30.  That is when we remembered it had been announced that there would be a special youth service on January 31 so the church would only have one service.  Too bad we didn’t remember before we drove the half hour to Shelby!

Transfiguration Sunday at Aldersgate was also Boy Scout Sunday.  We were handed our bulletins and had the offering taken by the cutest Cub Scouts.  All of the boys in the pack also received their “God and Me” award, which was a first for a pack in North Carolina!  There were over 200 people in worship, but I don’t think it was only because of Boy Scout Sunday.

The story of the Transfiguration – Jesus meeting Moses and Elijah on the mountain – was read from the Gospel of Luke 9:28-36.  Rev. Wilhelm pointed out that, just as on the Mount of Olives, the three disciples who went with Jesus had fallen asleep while Jesus prayed.  I’m not sure why Peter, James, and John could not stay awake when Jesus prayed.  Maybe Jesus prayed a really long time.  Maybe they were worn out with tension or stress.  Maybe they felt safe when Jesus prayed so it was okay to fall asleep.

Peter, James, and John almost missed the Transfiguration!  Verse 32 says, “Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.”  The disciples could not appreciate what was happening until they woke up!

Rev. Wilhelm suggested that we are like the disciples.  We do not see or appreciate the glory of Jesus because we act as if we are half asleep.  We go through our days “sleepwalking,” without seeing what Jesus is doing.  How can we be fully awake to the glory of Jesus Christ, especially as we enter the Lenten season?

First, we need to attend worship frequently and regularly.  In worship our hearts are awakened and we can see things more clearly as the scriptures are explained to us.  We are challenged to think in new ways when we attend worship with others.

Second, we need to concentrate on hearing the voice of Jesus Christ amidst the cacophony of the world.  There are so many distractions – so many things calling for our attention – that we can miss what Jesus wants us to see, hear, and do.  We focus on this voice by taking time daily for devotions and prayer.  This daily time with Jesus is like a hearing aid that helps us zero in on what Jesus Christ is telling us.

Third, we need to spend time with Christian friends who will help us make sense of what we hear Jesus Christ calling us to do.  They will help us discern a direction and work with us to achieve the results Jesus intends.  We won’t be building altars when he has other plans for us.

The sermon was clear, insightful, and gave me something new to think about this week – doing just what a sermon should do.  Rev. Wilhelm challenged me to consider how I can be more fully awake to the glory of my risen Savior.  After all, I don’t want to miss seeing a minute of his glory revealed!