Sunday Service 19th February
Call to worship
Hymn 718: We cannot measure how you heal
Time for all
Hymn 351: Jesus hands were kind hands
Reading: Mark 5: 25-34 John
Mark 9: 2-7
Video Hymn : Who do you say I am
Prayer of Dedication
Hymn 360: Jesus Christ is waiting
Welcome to our reflection for 19th of February.
Today we look at a very interesting word...transfiguration; something that changes its form.
And usually when we consider this word we think of Jesus, on top of a mountain when the disciples see Jesus change form, presumably into a more spiritual form of himself.
But I wonder if we have got that idea right, and if we haven’t, then maybe we have missed something important that we need to consider in our spiritual journey.
But we will think of this after John gives us our readings and prayer for today.
Although the theme of today is Transfiguration,(and the normal reading for that would be the second reading), the lectionary we are using suggests the first reading, (of the woman cured of bleeding).
And it may seem strange, but in particular I want to talk about Jesus’ cloths; because Mark makes special mention of them in both passages.
In the second reading we have the traditional reading for transfiguration; Jesus goes up a mountain with Peter, James and John and supposedly when they are up there Jesus changes, transfigures...the dictionary definition of transfiguration is...a complete change of form or appearance into a more spiritual state.
And we have always thought that meant Jesus.
That Jesus changed his form and the disciples witnessed that.
But what if it wasn’t Jesus?
What if it was Jesus’ clothes that transformed?
Mark says, ‘...and his clothes became shining white-whiter than anyone in the world could wash them.’
No, only kidding.
Clothes are just clothes.
Except that in our first reading it isn’t Jesus that the woman touches to get cured, it is Jesus’ clothes. And suddenly I was getting seriously confused.
What is really going on here?
Why is Mark guiding us to something as insignificant as Jesus’ clothes?
Which seriously got me thinking about transfiguration and what it means.
Because deep down I don’t think what we are witnessing here is a change in Jesus at all, I think we are witnessing a change in others, and we are asked to consider how that happens.
Let’s start with some basic logic.
Did Jesus change significantly on top of that mountain?
Did he transform into the Son of God?
No...he was already the Son of God.
Did he suddenly have the council of Moses and Elijah beside him?
No... he always had that?
Did he suddenly have a new relationship with his Heavenly Father?
No...that was already there.
What changed was that the vision of Peter, James and John had changed...how they saw Jesus began to radically change, transform.
They had seen the miracles, but that just meant that Jesus was a prophet of God.
They had heard the arguments with the Pharisees, but that just meant that Jesus was a radical rabbi.
But Jesus had been talking about death and resurrection, and they really didn’t know what that meant.
They were trying to put two and two together and really didn’t know what that added up to.
What changed significantly up that mountain was how Peter, James and John saw Jesus. Literally, their minds transfigured, changed its form into a more spiritual state.
And with the woman the change was in her illness, which was getting ‘worse all the time.’
There was no cure for this woman; it was just going to get worse.
And that changed; there was a transfiguration, a change of form into a more spiritual state.
What if the point of today was not that we saw that Jesus changed?
What if the point of today was that we could see that it was possible for us to change?
So two important points...
It is possible for us to change.
That in itself may be something that we find hard to believe.
For the woman things were ALWAYS GOING TO GET WORSE...that was the truth as she saw it, as everyone saw it.
That is what she believed, it is what her family believed, it was what everyone believed.
And yet...she changed.
For Peter, he was always going to get things theologically wrong. Deep down Peter believed he was no disciple, he was a bumbling fisherman. He would get small insights and then blow it.
He would walk on water; then nearly drown.
Days before this incident he had declared Jesus was the Son of God, and then immediately said something stupid that forced Jesus to say, ‘Get behind me Satan.’
Peter was the botch up disciple, always was, always would be, the disciple that nearly understood what was going on, the disciple that knew he had something special, but didn’t know what to do with it.
And yet...he changed.
Now that is significant for us, because too often that’s how we see ourselves.
We see ourselves as the botch up Christians, always were, always would be,
the Christians that nearly understands what is going on,
we know we have something special, but we don’t know what to do with it.
We hear about other people doing amazing things with their faith, we hear about other churches doing amazing things, but that isn’t us.
We wish it was, but we know we don’t have it in us.
And Jesus says, ‘That can change’.
So significant point one, things can change, it changed for the woman, it changed for Peter, it can change for us.
Significant point two.
For change to take place there needs to be something different, something new, something more; something that changes the dynamic.
And in both these cases that change was Jesus.
It was the growing faith in Jesus that changed the dynamic of understanding in Peter and allowed transfiguration of the mind and the changes of attitude to take place.
It was the faith of the woman in Jesus that changed the dynamic, telling Jesus everything, giving Jesus everything that allowed transfiguration of her body to take place.
When I was very young I had a friend called Mij.
Poor family, living in a poor area.
Clever guy but no point in trying to be clever as it wouldn’t lead anywhere.
If he showed his cleverness he would probably have got bullied; so better to play dumb.
If he tried to do well in exams his family wouldn’t be able to afford for him to go to university so why bother.
So he had the curse of being a person who knew they could do better, but always sabotaged himself.
He got an apprenticeship in the shipyards but that didn’t satisfy him, if anything he felt more frustrated, trapped in a life that was going nowhere.
Self medicated on alcohol and drugs to ease the frustration but in the end that just made things worse.
Because at some point you realise that things should be different but you don’t know how and maybe it’s too late to change.
Christ was the dynamic that changed Mij’s life.
Out of nowhere he saw that there was a God that loved him dearly.
And things completely changed. His life completely changed.
Eventually he even became a Pentecostal minister.
We look at faith as something that keeps us safe, something that gives us security.
But maybe faith, true faith in Christ, is the dynamic for change.
Definitely change in how we see God.
But maybe also change in how we see ourselves, what we are capable of doing, how we act towards others.
Maybe change in how we see others, how we see their potential, maybe hope in what their future may be, maybe their place in our lives.
Today we celebrate the possibility of transfiguration, but not the transfiguration of Christ, because his love never changes.
But the transfiguration in us, the changes possible in our lives,
if we have the dynamic of a faith in a loving God, shown in the life of Christ.
And it starts with us just wanting to change.
Then it means giving him everything, like the woman did, and if we have found change blocked in the past, maybe we could ask ourselves what are we not giving God.
Then all we need to do, is move to Christ, and see what happens...
Let us pray
You are God,
You can’t be transformed as you are the same yesterday, today and forever.
You are love—only love!
- Never insincere
- Never playing hard to get
- Never prone to favouritism
- Never wrapped up in selfish concerns
You are love—only love!
- Not remote
- Not unavailable
- Not into paybacks and retribution
- Not irrational
- Not full of envy and spite
You are love—only love!
And it is your unchanging love that changes everything.
We ask that you take what we have, and what we offer back to you, and make it something that is useful to our homes, our community, to the church and the people of the world.
At times we think we do not have much to offer –
but show us instead the error of such limiting thought.
Uncover for our eyes who we are, what we have, what we have been given, and what is possible through us,
and so, make us generous for the sake of others.
We thank you God that things can change, we can change, through your love.
May the Spirit always inspire us to have faith in this truth. Amen.