First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

Most weeks Fr. David sends out an e-mail with his first thoughts on the upcoming Sunday readings. These reflections are designed to encourage people to consider the readings before they come to worship which we hope will enrich Sunday worship. People are invited to respond to David with their own thoughts and sometimes interesting ideas and conversations occur that end up in the sermon. If you would like to receive these weekly e-mails e-mail David at dsmith@ontario.anglican.ca  . 

Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, February 15, 2015

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Monday, February 16, 2015
Hi Everyone,

Here are some first thought on the readings for Sunday, February 15, 2015.

Readings: 2Kings 2: 1-12, Psalm 50: 1-6, 2 Corinthians4: 3-6, Mark 9: 2-9

Thanks to Feasting on the Word Year B Vol. 1 pgs 434- 457

This Sunday is the last Sunday of the Epiphany season.  Epiphany began with the story of the Magi  who followed  the light of the star to find and worship the new king Jesus. Through the glory of the light God revealed to them Jesus making it clear that God's love was for everyone. Ever since we have been marking  ways in which God's glory has been revealed, particularly in and through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus as St. Paul says in our epistle reading ," For it is God who said Let light shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"

So it is fitting that this season ends with the story of the Transfiguration. It is difficult to imagine ,other than the resurrection itself,  a story that better describes the glory of Jesus and the full revelation of the ministry and person of Jesus. William Willimon in a sermon on the Transfiguration notes that ,"the transfiguration is a stunning moment of divine self disclosure and revelation. I think in a way it is squarely in the centre of the Christian faith. It is a story about revelation, about the veil between heaven and earth being pulled back, just for a moment and that which is so often subtle, implicit, and mysterious being made wonderfully explicit"

Willimon seems to be describing what the Celtic Christians saw as a "thin place" where heaven and earth intersect. Clearly the Transfiguration is such a revelation or breakthrough of worlds.

Willimon goes onto to argue that God revealing Himself in such  a  way is a gift we are called to receive. Christianity originates with God not with us. It begins with God's word and as the voice from heaven declares in the Gospel we are to listen to Jesus,to what he, The Word, says.

In a way this story is a manifestation of what our Psalm for Sunday declares to be true about God, " Out of Zion , the perfection of beauty, God shines forth." Psalm 50 definitely speaks about how God is God and we are to acknowledge God's sovereignty and as with the Gospel reading we are to listen to God's voice.

The O.T. reading is the great story of Elijah handing over the prophetic leadership to Elisha. It must be included in our Sunday readings because Elijah appears in the story of the Transfiguration and  also because Elijah and Elisha experience a glorious thin place as well, where heaven and earth intersect.  There is a glorious luminous conclusion to our O.T. reading which fits the season of Epiphany.

The presence of Elijah and Moses at the transfiguration  invites us to consider other meaningful symbols  found in the story such as being on a mountain and the clouds.

In addition to the glorious revelation which can't be ignored, I was taken by the theme of listening and the related need to focus intently as the listener. It is curious that the transfiguration ends with God's voice saying listen to my beloved son and then describing how the disciples were with no one except Jesus. The story of Elijah and Elisha includes a repetitive pattern that enables Elisha to say that he will not leave Elijah.  And St. Paul speaks about how people have been kept from seeing the glory of God because they have been distracted from seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus. Their eyes have been focused elsewhere.

I think this emphasis on listening and looking at Jesus in a deliberate way is a good segue into Lent and I may make this my focus on Sunday.

What do you see and hear in these readings?

Blessings,

David