7th February 2016 – Transfiguration

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Today was another fascinating and uplifting visit to Church. Our Church is currently without a permanent vicar which means that we get a variety of stand-in vicars each with his or her own style. I suspect that these are retired vicars doing their bit to serve the institution. I particularly enjoyed listening to today’s vicar though as he was funny, enthusiastic and keen to impart the meaning of his sermon on us.

The New Testament reading was…

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

12 [n]Seeing then that we have such trust, we use great boldness of speech.

13 [o]And we are not as Moses, which put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel should not look unto the [p]end of that which should be abolished.

14 Therefore their minds are hardened: for until this day remaineth the same covering untaken away in the reading of the old Testament, which veil in Christ is put away.

15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is laid over their hearts.

16 Nevertheless when their heart shall be turned to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

17 Now the [q]Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

18 [r]But we all behold as in a mirror the glory of the Lord with open face, and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Perhaps I’ll come back to this reading at a later date, but I have to move on to the Gospel reading, which today came from…

Luke 9:28-43a

28 [a]And it came to pass about an eight days after those words, that he took Peter and John, and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.

29 And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was changed, and his garment was white and glistered.

30 And behold, two men talked with him, which were Moses and Elijah:

31 Which appeared in glory, and told of his[b]departing, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.

32 But Peter and they that were with him, were heavy with sleep, and when they awoke, they saw his glory, and the two men standing with him.

33 And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: let us therefore make three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah, and wist not what he said.

34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud and overshadowed them, and they feared when they were entering into the cloud.

35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is that my beloved Son, hear him.

36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone: and they kept it close, and told no man in [c]those days any of those things which they had seen.

37 ¶ [d]And it came to pass on the next day, as they came down from the mountain, much people met him.

38 And behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, behold my son: for he is all that I have.

39 And lo, a spirit taketh him, and suddenly he crieth, and he teareth him, that he foameth, and hardly departeth from him, when he hath [e]bruised him.

40 Now I have besought thy disciples to cast him out, but they could not.

41 Then Jesus answered and said, O generation faithless, and crooked, how long now shall I be with you, and suffer you? bring thy son hither.

42 And while he was yet coming, the devil rent him, and tore him: and Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him to his father.

The vicar opened his sermon by saying, half in jest, that he hoped that the experience of the Church service would lead to at least some of the congregation leaving the Church with direct experience of themselves being transfigured! It got a chuckle from the three or four people who were actually listening but in me, it was dredging up the memory of possibly the most awesome out of body experience I have ever had.

It happened during the Easter weekend of 2009 when I was visiting my brother a few hundred miles away from where I live. The night of our arrival we bedded down on the floor of his lounge and I had fallen asleep whilst meditating. I awoke with vibrations and was catapulted out of my body into a brilliant white environment. The weirdest thing then happened (if it’s possible to get any weirder than your awareness leaving your body): I began to flicker between being an energetic copy of my normal physical being, to something quite different. I was still humanoid but not human. I was a white flame of divine ecstasy.

In front of me appeared a woman I know in my waking life, a woman who talks way too much, to the point of being overbearing in most situations. She was stood before me, but unaware of me and talking manically. Something in me spasmed and strings of light shot forth from my heart and the palms of my hand towards her.

This continued for a few moments before the energy dissipated and I was slung back to my body.

What had just happened? I had certainly been transformed during this experience, but was it also a transfiguration? Unfortunately, once back in my body, I was back to being the same old me!!

So, back to the Vicar’s sermon: I was listening intently, wondering what he was going to say about the possessed child. Unfortunately and half expectedly, he completely avoided this part of the Gospel – what a cop out! I was genuinely intrigued as to what he would say about the nature of possession or why Jesus was exasperated by the request. I have my own ideas which will have to wait for another day, but I will say that I think Jesus was suggesting that the strong in faith have the power to do this work themselves.

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