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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Homily

Transfiguration, Year C
South Sydney Uniting Church
February 14, 2010

Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36

‘In a new light’

Transfiguration is one of my favourite feast days. Bringing the season of Epiphany to a climax, it’s all about dazzling light – Christ the light of the world – Transfiguration extends the imagery of Christmas whereby we celebrate the light that no darkness can extinguish, and it prefigures Easter in that it presents Jesus in mysterious and luminous glory.
Transfiguration is a wonderful example of the Gospel in miniature. The Voice, “This is my Own, my Chosen One. Listen to him!” tells the disciples to listen to Christ when he talks about his death – in our passage today such a death is likened to an “exodus” (in other words, it has to do with liberation from slavery, liberation from hopeless and meaningless existence). “Talk of Jesus’ death,” says one commentator, “does not abrogate in any way his messiahship” (John Brown).

I think of the Franciscan prayer: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, in giving of ourselves that we receive, and in dying that we’re born to eternal life.”

We are being taught something important about death – about the Way of faithful and courageous loving unto death which leads, by the Spirit, to resurrection, to new life. We are being taught something important about living and loving unto death every day – a Way of life that embraces a certain dying – in that I understand, as we have prayed this morning, a dying to prejudice and intolerance, a dying to self-centredness (or ego) – or, expressed positively, a Way of life that embraces humility. Genuine, resilient, non-violent humility that wills what’s good (what’s safe and salvific) for another even in the face of hostility and rejection.

What is humility but preparedness for death? Preferring death to life at the expense of others. Preferring, desiring the death that is faithful to the cross of Christ.

We are being taught something simple that is not at all simple in practice. It is possible only with the help of God. And yet, it may be an epiphany for us – a revelation of grace and truth that makes all the difference to the way we live. Talk of Jesus’ death does not abrogate in any way his messiahship. You are called to follow Christ through the frightening and deathly places – called to follow in the Spirit of genuine, resilient, non-violent humility. And you are promised freedom, strong peace, new life – not just more of the same life, but a new quality of life – a life deeply rooted in solidarity with all victims of violence – with the earth and its creatures. I am called to follow Christ through the frightening and deathly places – called to follow in the Spirit of genuine, resilient, non-violent humility.



There is a detail in Luke’s account of the Transfiguration that I notice for the first time – and an epiphany, a revealed truth, I’ll need to keep thinking about, and praying about. It’s something about prayer.

I notice that Jesus does not address Abba God immediately and directly, but rather listens for the divine Voice through an engagement with the historic figures of Moses and Elijah, who are there to represent, symbolically, the two most important strands of Jewish tradition – law and prophecy.

This is what I discern Luke to be telling us here. If you want to pray after the way of Jesus, Luke says, you must do as Jesus did. Instead of addressing God directly, as many “religious” folk do, because they imagine they know already what God would say, sit down and listen to what God has already spoken in the stories and traditions of the faith. Listen to the Scriptures, to the liturgy, and to the sayings of the saints and doctors of the church. For God has spoken already, and you shall find the new word by listening to the old word. You shall discover how to question God by first allowing God to question you. You shall find the answers to your questions by communing with the answers others have found by praying as you are praying [after a reflection by Garry Deverell].

In the context of a first group exhibition of artworks here in the church, I discern a word about communal prayer. You shall find the answers to your questions by communing with the answers others have found by praying as you are praying.

That’s an apt point at which to stop, and to allow God to speak to us in the silence. Then, let’s complete the homily together. When have you seen Christ in a new light? You might like to share a response to that prompt and to light a candle from the Christ Candle. When have you seen Christ in a new light?

Amen.