Monday, February 09, 2015

Lectionary Notes for Transfiguration Sunday, Year B

Readings for Transfiguration Sunday, 2/15/15:
2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9 

2 Kings 2:1-12:

  • Aside from the tongue-twisting of an Elisha/Elijah-packed reading, I like this selection - it is a transitioning of leadership - one who is leaving literally passing on the mantle to one who is stepping up afterward. In part, this was the theme of Rev. Safiya Fosua of the General Board of Discipleship as she preached at our ordination service at Annual Conference some years ago. She talked about how we need to step up in support when we have those in our midst who are called, even though they need to own their own calls as well. Who can you support who is being called? Especially look out for young people who are hearing God's voice, who may not have many avenues of affirmation coming their way.
  • "Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit." When asked what he wants from Elijah, this is how Elisha responds. Sometimes we're afraid to ask for what we really want and need and could put to use. Elisha just goes straight for what will make him a leader as Elijah was. "You have asked a hard thing," Elijah says. Hard, but wise, and possible indeed! What would you ask for if you didn't put restrictions on your asking? If so equipped, what could you do for God?
  • "I will not leave you." - Compare this to Ruth's sentiments to Naomi and Ruth 1. What people would you be willing to follow anywhere?

  • Psalm 50:1-6
  • "from the rising of the sun to its setting" - God calls us all the time - the image is an all-encompassing one. There is no part of our day/life where God is not calling to us.
  • "Our God comes and does not keep silence." That's comforting - God speaks. God speaks for God's people. Even when we don't want to hear God's words!
  • Read the rest of this psalm - it focuses on sacrifice, and what sacrifices God truly wants from us. A lot of "blood", gore, and enemies, but some good themes.

  • 2 Corinthians 4:3-6:
  • "veiled" - I'm not sure why verses 1 and 2 are left out of this passage - reading them helps Paul's argument make sense. Paul is talking about the truth and openness of the gospel and of his ministry in sharing the gospel. If the gospel appears still veiled, Paul argues, it is not because of the gospel itself, but because of unbelief or "the god of this world"
  • "god of this world" What do you think Paul means by this? What are the gods of our world that we try to substitute in place of the Real Thing?
  • "we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ" So simple. And yet, a real problem. So often, we let ourselves get in the way of the message of the gospel. We forget our place as messengers and think we are the message.

  • Mark 9:2-9
  • Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up the mountain where the three disciples witness Jesus' 'transfiguration' - Moses and Elijah appear and Jesus is changed, dazzling and dressed in white. Transfiguration Sunday is generally under celebrated and under-appreciated, I think, but there are lots of ways we can relate to this story.
  • "tell no one" Why do you think Jesus wanted to keep the transfiguration hush-hush for all but these three? Perhaps he knew it wouldn't make as much sense to them until later? What do you think? What would cause you to keep a really awesome experience of God quiet? When and why would you tell or would you not tell what you saw? Maybe Jesus wanted people to believe in him/follow him not because of fantastical events like this, but because of a desire for a deeper relationship with God based on a real, personal experience. But look for this "messianic secret" as a repeating theme in Mark.
  • "he did not know what to say, for they were terrified" The disciples' response to what they see is fear, causing Peter to say anything. Has an experience of God and who God is ever caused a response of fear in you? We often fear what our relationship with God might require of us. Seeing God and God's glory face to face in such an undeniable way would leave us with an undeniable responsibility to act, wouldn't it?
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