Lizzie Reynolds continues her podcast series of reflections on the Gospel of Luke. This week, Lizzie will be looking at Luke 9 – the Transfiguration.
Lizzie offers a reflective and contemplative consideration of Scripture by inviting us into thirty minutes of prayerful meditation. If you long for opportunities like this in your busy life, please tune in.
Welcome everyone, welcome to Abide. I'm so glad you have carved out this time to spend with God. It's so hard just to make the time, isn't it, to pull away and to allow ourselves to turn inwards? So, congratulations on doing the hardest part, which is just getting situated in a quiet place. Beginning to quiet down, we sit together ready to hear from God, to be with God.
You know it would be one thing if God called us to live a simple life in a simple world. But he's called us to live a simple life in a very complex world, and in a complex body and mind and society. And so, this is time where we can begin to simplify, to practice being in God's presence, because day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year of doing this very practice, it changes you. He changes us. And so, we come and we sit at the feet of Jesus, knowing that this time with Him is so important, and is life changing.
So slowly and gently bring your attention just to this present moment and allow all the chatter of the things, the words and the lists of things you need to do. Just begin to quiet down. Maybe the tasks that you'll get to after this prayer time, allow them to quiet down and just be present here- just be yourself.
Notice your breathing as you breathe in; your lungs are bringing breath to your body. Notice your heart pumping to bring life to your body, and notice if there’s any tight places in your body today: maybe your head is tight or your shoulders or your neck, your back and your hips- just notice these places and take a nice deep breath in. Then just release out any of the uncomfortable spaces within; releasing and letting go. Notice if there is any tight places in your heart today- things you bring to this time of prayer: sorrow, frustration, anger, anxiety and fear. And let's take a nice deep breath in and just create more space within the heart, releasing and letting go of these many things.
God, you are Lord over our bodies, over our hearts and our minds and our lives. And we come here to simplify; we come here to abide - view the source of all life.
And for today's gratitude practice I want you to go back and imagine a time where God felt very close. And just re-imagine the scene: where are you? What does it look like? Who's there? Maybe it was years ago, maybe it was just last week, or yesterday. But let's just look over a time where God felt very close. Just spend time with Jesus now, just mulling over what that was like, how that made you feel. And juat how encouraging and supportive and refreshing that time was for you. And I'll give you a minute to do that.
Wonderful. Thank you, Jesus for times that we can hear and see and know You are close.
We're continuing in the Gospel of Luke, and the disciples continue to follow Jesus and watch him healing the sick, feeding the 5000. And just before our passage today we have Jesus speaking to the disciples about what is coming: that he will have to suffer, that he will be rejected, and that he will be killed and raised to life. He also is speaking to the disciples about if they are to follow him, they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Jesus in the ways of Jesus. And it's there that we start our narrative today in Luke Chapter 9, verses 28 to 36.
“About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became as white as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
“Peter and his companions were very sleepy. But when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up 3 shelters: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He did not know what he was saying.
“And while he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my son, whom I have chosen. Listened to him.”
“When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and told no one at that time what they had seen.”
Listen for the leading of the Spirit. Allow me to read this passage once again in the message translation.
“About eight days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, John, and James along. And while he was in prayer, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became blinding white. At once, two men were there talking with him, and they turned out to be Moses and Elijah, and what a glorious appearance they had. They talked over his exodus- the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.
“Meanwhile, Peter and those with him were slumped over in sleep. When they came to, rubbing their eyes, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him. And when Moses and Elijah had left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment. Let's build 3 memorials: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He blurted this out without thinking.
“And while he was babbling on like this, a light – a radiant cloud – enveloped them. As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God. And then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my son, the chosen. Listen to him.” And when the sound of the voice died away, they saw Jesus there alone. And they were speechless. And they continued speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.”
Jesus has just talked sweetly to his disciples about what is coming: him being rejected, being killed, dying and rising again. And after he speaks to the disciples about this, he then invites a smaller group - Peter, James, and John - to come up a mountain and to be together to pray. And in this time, there is a mountain-top experience of glory, of terror, of being afraid, of seeing these Saints of old: Moses and Elijah. And they're shining, they're bright, and it's amazing.
And after Peter and his friends wake up from their stupor, they see this and they are amazed and just enjoy of seeing the beauty and the power and the intimacy of their Lord in glowing clothes. Everything is clear and known and seen, and Peter wants to stay there a while.
I very much relate with Peter. I like when experiences come to me where I know God is so near when I'm full of gratitude and beauty is all around; where I don't have many questions and don't have many concerns or fears. And all is well.
I'm wondering if you too appreciate these moments, as we spent earlier in our prayer of gratitude, of times in life where we felt God very close; we felt our life and our future and our existence just all made sense. And these are important moments in the lives of the disciples. They ponder them; they hold them very close.
And yet the disciples seem to misunderstand the mission, and Peter wants to build temples, build memorials to prolong the glorious scene. And Jesus reminds them that no, we must go back down into the mountain, into the nitty-gritty of everyday life, and knowing that I will go with you.
So, as we've spent time with Jesus speaking about the glorious times - the mountain tops are the loud vibrations of God's glory, peace, abundance - I'm wondering if you're able to move down the mountain with Peter, James, and John and Jesus into the realities of everyday life where people need healing and there's doubts of faith and misunderstanding of what life's about.
And so, as Peter, James, and John journey down the mountain, I wonder if you could be there with them. I wonder if you could share where you have known God to be close. Maybe you can share with them what going down the mountain and into everyday life feels like, and the fears and frustrations and unknowns. So, take this time now to imagine yourself coming down the mountain with these very special people and know that you belong there.
And as we walk with Jesus together and the disciples, I'm, I'm reminded of what it was like to be in that cloud and the voice of God spoke and said he loves Jesus, his son. And then he added a new, a new phrase unlike how he spoke to Jesus at the baptism that says, “Listen to him.”
I wonder what it would be like to listen to you, Jesus, in the everyday- in the mundane. How do we hear your voice and how do we know your comforting hand? How do we hear the finer vibrations of grace? Thankfully, Jesus, you come down the mountain and are with us, and you remind us that we sometimes misunderstand our own mission. We will not have a life where it's all mountain-top and clear and powerful. We will not always live in a glorious scene. We're grateful when we do have those moments, but as you reminded the disciples, we move deeper and deeper into our own death and resurrection - our own surrendering of life - to gain real life, true life.
Jesus, thank you that you are close to us; that you know our restless hearts and our longings and our frustrations and you desire to dwell in the midst of that. I pray for each and every one of us that we will continue to hold closely our mountain-top experiences and keep them ever so close. But Lord, may we not worship those moments and think that if we abide closer to you and surrender deeper that our lives will just be one big mountain-top. But no, you will invite us to go down to be a part of the work, to be a part of the sweating and the tears and the joys and that's where you desire for us to be and to dwell and where you dwell with us.
Help us to be reminded of your mission- of how you showed us the way; that there will be suffering and frustration and unknowns in foggy days, and we will follow you and trust that you are always there.
And so, we'll read this passage together one final time. And let us companion the disciples; let us companion Jesus and Elijah and Moses - all of these figures who walked through their lives, the ups and downs, the highs, the valleys, all being held in the great love of God.
“About eight days after Jesus had said this, he took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
“Peter and his companions were very sleepy. But when they became fully awake, they saw this, his glory, and the two men standing with him. And as the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up 3 shelters: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He did not know what he was saying.
“And while he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my son, whom I have chosen. Listen to him.” And when the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. And the disciples kept this to themselves and told no one at that time what they had seen.”
Jesus, we thank you that we're able to journey with you through these stories of Luke. I just think about all the stories as in a great song where there's loud vibrations and then things get very quiet, and maybe sometimes still, and maybe very fine vibrations. And so, Lord, as we move out into the rest of our day, may we be able to hear those really soft notes with the pauses. May we be able to see – in the eyes of a stranger, a friend, a helpful hand that opens a door, a smile, a laugh, a hug, a letter, a word – that you indeed are in our midst.
Help us God to receive your mission, that is walking more and more deeply into Jerusalem, into rejection, into sorrow and pain and death, but also deep resurrection. So it is too with us. We will walk into dark places of confusion and unknown, but you will be near. So be with us as we go to study, to read, to write, to type, to be in relationships, to be in this world, knowing you are our God and you are in our midst.
So, we take one last breath in together: breathing in the deep love of God and exhaling out, saying, “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Spirit, as it was in the beginning, as it is now, and as it ever shall be, world without end. Amen.”
Go in peace my friends.
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