Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Transfiguration of Our Lord
God Speaking Afresh
The transfiguration is a strange story. Jesus and three disciples retreat to a mountain and have a vision. First, they see Moses and Elijah, representing the law and the prophets, in essence their whole faith tradition, which we see in what we call the Old Testament. This reminds us—as Christians have forgotten through much of our history—that Jesus was a good, observant Jew, first in his hometown of Nazareth, then around Galilee, then in Jerusalem, however much he questioned some of his own religious leaders. Jesus himself said that he came not to destroy his tradition but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).
Then Moses and Elijah disappear, and the three disciples see only Jesus and hear the words of God heard by others at the baptism of Jesus: “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” And more: “Listen to him!” (Matthew 17:5).
That tension between tradition and Jesus is a reality for all of us. Acts 10 tells of Peter’s experience of a vision that contradicted his understanding of dietary tradition—what good Jews should eat or not eat. This experience led him to the God-fearing Gentile Cornelius. Peter put together his tradition, his conviction that God had dealt with his ancestors, and a realization that God was speaking afresh to him—in a way that made his experience of God larger, God not for one group but for the whole world.
Many of us would say that the gift of women as pastors and leaders in the church is another place where God has spoken afresh. Another place where God has spoken afresh is in what we once called foreign missions, which now provide virtually all their own leadership.
What are the areas in our lives where God may be speaking afresh?
Hermann Weinlick, retired pastor