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The Transfiguration of Our Lord - Luke 9:28-43a

Peter didn’t bring his cell phone.

That must be why he wanted to build stuff, and also why we don’t have any record of the Transfiguration on Instagram.

He was unable to capture the moment, and so are we.

Yes, we will get pictures and probably even video of today’s baptisms, but we

will not be able to capture the holy moment any more than religion can capture

God or bottles can capture lightning.

We cannot keep these children this size forever.

We cannot keep ourselves from aging either.

For all our technology and brilliance and effort and skill, there are some things we

cannot capture.

The best ones capture us.


The beauty of baptism is not that any of our five new siblings in Christ have earned their

way into the family, or that any of the rest of us have either, but that the God who

lights up the face of Jesus and darkens the mountain in cloud decides, in God’s

way in God’s time, to lavish new life and everlasting faithfulness upon us.

So today, many faces who love these five children will glow.

Their smiles will dazzle.

But it won’t last.

There is a dark cloud gathering.

We can’t stay here.


Wintson Churchill once famously advised, “When you are going through hell, keep

going.”

Today’s gospel says, “When you are in heaven, keep going.”

Disciples of Jesus cannot stay on the mountaintop.

This strange, supernatural episode is really a potent reinforcement of the hard lesson they

are reluctantly learning right now at a pivotal point in Luke’s gospel.

They have just returned from a wildly successful mission during which they cast out

many demons, exactly what they are now about to fail to do.

Peter has identified Jesus as the Messiah, but the response stopped them all short.

Jesus tells them he must die and that following him means carrying a cross.

He will say it again just after today’s reading.

It is eight days after these sayings that today’s gospel takes place with the very

same three sleepy-heads who joined Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.

When Moses and Elijah show up, they talk with Jesus about his departure—literally, his

exodus—which will go down in Jerusalem.

When Peter tries to stay put and start a capital campaign, God interrupts him, clairifies

Jesus’ identity and authority, and says in Greek, Keep listening to him.

Continuing, ongoing listening.

When Jesus is saying things you don’t want to hear, keep listening.

When he says, leave this slice of heaven and follow me to hell, keep going.

When he says, leave the glory on the summit for the dumpster fire down the hill, keep going.

What happens there only reinforces all of this.

It is the Transfiguration in the mirror: low elevation, big crowd, disciples who

can’t wait to leave, and a visible father echoing that voice from the cloud: I beg

you to look at my son.

What happens to his innocent boy looks for all the world like what will happen to Jesus

in Jerusalem.

He will be seized and mauled and dashed to the ground while the disciples watch in

helpless horror.

Then he will rise up new in a triumphant blaze of the glory of God.

When you are failing in the valley and dying between thieves, when you are in the

teeth of hell, God is there too, and God keeps going.


That is the ironclad promise of baptism.

That is why we trace a glistening cross on five sweet foreheads.

Today’s glow won’t last, and neither will tomorrow’s agony, but the relationship will –

God’s relentless love will continue no matter where, no matter what.

So when these kids are running away and screaming no, keep going.

When you want to bottle them up forever on that first day of school, keep going.

When they crash their bike and sob because their skin and their heart are broken, keep

going.

When they reach puberty—how much longer must I be with you?--keep going.

When they graduate and shoulder debt and chase dreams, keep going.

If they marry, if they divorce, keep going.

When their faith fails, when their health fails, keep going.

When all hope is lost, keep going.

One day they will lose it all: all the accomplishments, all the assets, all the

regrets, all the demons and dreams, all the photos and memories and tragedies and treasures, all of it, even their breath.

And there, in death, Jesus will meet them and say, “We can’t stay here.

My commitment to you continues.

My love for you lives on.”

Keep listening to him...keep going.

He is healing you and giving you back to your father.

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