Mark 9: 2-9
Transfiguration: Gap Moments and God’s Fullness
The disciples at the Transfiguration, as told in Mark 9, experience a gap moment that transforms their lives. Peter, James and John have been traveling with Jesus. They likely know his human ways well. That is what happens when a group travels together. And, here, Jesus takes them to the mountain where they experience this mystical sight of Jesus, Elijah, and Moses transcending time and space to be with each other. The disciples see these ancestors of faith interacting with Jesus, in the full illumination of his divinity. Peter is so terrified that he feels the need to speak, even though he does not know what to say. His go-to response: “Let us make three shelters.” Shelters would cover over the ambiguity of this gap moment with something concrete and tangible. Instead, a voice comes from the cloud that covers them, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.” The message of this gap moment is relationship, love, and listening. The trans-figuration disrupts expectations and structures of stability and opens the possibility of deeper understanding and fuller engagement. It is in the wake of this trans- moment as they are coming down the mountain together that Jesus orders the disciples “to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.” The disciples talk among themselves. Peter and James and John can grasp the danger of their journey and that Jesus’ death is coming. But what does “rising from the dead” mean? They ask questions and seek meaning they never before would have thought to ask. Standing fully with Jesus in the gap moment enabled those disciples to the possibilities of Jesus’ love that is more than they could imagine.
Interacting With the Story
This text of Transfiguration is situated in the Lectionary cycle at a gap moment in the church year. It is the text that borders Epiphany with its emphasis on light and universality and the concreteness of Lent with its down-to-earth journey to the cross. This text creates an opening into an experience that is both mystical and concrete. It situates us in the gap moments of our lives. And it opens our perception to the power and possibilities of Jesus’ love as we accompany people forced into the gap moments of their lives by natural disaster, violence or poverty.
Gap moments are not easy nor comfortable spaces. Paying special attention to disaster, refugees and poverty around the world highlights the gap moments in which we live.
Climate change is causing natural disasters to become more frequent and more intense. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States reports that “Extreme weather events caused a total of $306 billion in damage in the United States last year, making 2017 the most expensive year on record for natural disasters in the country” 2017 Weather Disasters
An anti-immigrant plan in the United States has limited the number of refugees allowed to be resettled in this country just at the time when the number of refugees forced from their homes around the world is increasing. National Public Radio looks back at the meaning of 2017 for refugee resettlement in the United States. Refugee Resettlement
Gaps between the rich and poor around the world has grown exponentially as support for global health, education, and food sustainability programs has been decreased. The United Nations has set 17 Sustainable Development Goals for aid in organizing and meeting benchmarks and goals.
The gap moment of Jesus’ Transfiguration does not dwell in the despair, but provides a glimpse of the possibilities. In contemporary language, it is an intersectional moment. The mystical experience of seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah emphasizes the continuity of Jesus and these prophets and opens new possibilities of hope. Crises have existed before and God’s love continues to weave in and through them to bring life. On the trip back down the mountain with Jesus, the disciples hear a seemingly backdoor comment to announcement that that he will rise from the dead. This promise highlights the new ways that God works in places and ways we do not expect and with outcomes better than we can imagine.
Stories from Haiti and Morocco
The One Great Hour of Sharing Offering gives you the opportunity to be in these life-giving gap moments of new possibilities and seeing God more fully. You walk with people in rural Haiti who experienced the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The remote region meant that Haitians carried construction materials on their backs up the mountain to build anew. The new hurricane-resistant homes and school are more than they could have imagined. Homes in Haiti
Through the OGHS Offering you walk with refugees from Sub Saharan Africa and young leaders who welcome them in Morocco. The Evangelical Protestant Church in Morocco values hospitality for those who live and work in Morocco and for those passing through. In these gap moments, people receive emergency aid of food, shelter, clothing and medical care as well as micro-credit projects and professional training programs for those who stay longer in the country. The welcome and the new start in life is more than many refugees can imagine. Refugees find Hospitality in Morocco
Reflections by: Rev. Dr. Mary Schaller Blaufuss, Team Leader, UCC Humanitarian and Development Ministries (One Great Hour of Sharing) in disaster, refugee, development and volunteer ministries.