Transforming Grace


Gospel lectionary for Sunday: Luke 9:28-36 (NRSV)

I write this anticipating General Conference and by the time it is printed, our conferencing will be complete.

I think it is fitting that we are looking toward Transfiguration Sunday in the liturgical calendar year as we try to make sense out of what happened in St. Louis.

It is interesting that Transfiguration comes for United Methodists as a bridge between the season following the Epiphany which deals with light and revelation and the season of Lent which encourages repentance and sacrifice.

In Luke’s version, we discover that the Transfiguration of Jesus is almost like a vision for the disciples. Only in Luke’s account does it claim that they were very sleepy. Verse 32 states, “Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.” The note following the word “awake” informs us that it could also be read, “but when they were fully awake.”

In Luke’s Gospel, this may be a foreshadowing of when the disciples slept as Jesus prays in Gethsemane prior to his betrayal and arrest. Mark and Matthew tell us that they are the same three that witnessed the transfiguration but Luke keeps them anonymous using the more generic term “disciples”.

Luke also omits the fact that Jesus found them asleep three times and reports only a single time that Jesus returned to find them napping.

What does it mean to be asleep spiritually? And what does it mean to wake up?

Often, we can be worn down spiritually. Some may be celebrating but this always leaves others grieving when we have a binary choice. It may be that no one is very happy. Regardless, we remember that the Transfiguration calls us to wake and to bear witness to the glory of Jesus Christ!

As we prepare ourselves for repentance and sacrifice once more, may we remember that the glory of Jesus is not our glory. We may point to it but we do not control it or hoard it.

But it does rouse us and move us into the world.

May that be enough for today.

In Christ,


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