Church of England Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham Ordsall and Retford Saint Michael

Homily 14th February 2021 Sunday Next Before Lent

Homily 14/2/21

Mark 9 2-9

9:2 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,

9:3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.

9:4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

9:5 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

9:6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.

9:7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"

9:8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9:9 As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Well , Happy Valentine’s day!

Wikipedia tells me that St Valentine was a Christian priest or bishop who lived , from approximately 226 AD to 270 AD ,in Rome. He was martyred on 14<sup>th</sup> February and is apparently patron saint of

Affianced couples

against fainting,

beekeepers,

happy marriages,

love,

plague,

epilepsy,

Some of you may know that I volunteer at Muddy Fork which is a Gardening for mental health Charity based at the Idle valley Nature reserve. We keep bees there and my bee keeping friends will be delighted to know that they have St Valentine on their side in the ongoing fight against the varroa mite !

I also notice plague in the above list so St Valentine might be more relevant this year than most .

But of course we mainly think about St Valentine in connection with love , particularly romantic love .And of course relationships , families , marriages are so important. Relationships are never easy and the pandemic makes things harder. For some couples , the pandemic keeps them apart and that is not easy when every fibre of your being wants to be with that other person .

The other side of that particular coin is that whilst some people have been very lonely during lockdown, living alone for weeks and months with no visitors , for others , relationships have broken down in part because the pandemic has confined people together at home .We know that domestic abuse has been worse during the pandemic : to be stuck at home with a violent or controlling partner must be terrifying .

But for all the difficulties of relationships , God is love . God is in favour of love , in favour of loving relationships . .It is always a delight to see people happily in love , whether they have been in love 5 weeks or 50 years.

So perhaps today would be a good day to pray for those we know who are having difficulties with relationships at the moment . And if you are lucky enough to get a card , enjoy it !

The reading today is about The Transfiguration.

This is a glorious episode, an episode when Christ’s divinity , the fact that He is God , is revealed, comes literally shining through .

He has lived most of his life, 30 years or so , in obscurity . I guess that most people who knew him thought of him as an ordinary person.

And that seems to be what God planned: In Christ God was incarnated , became flesh , as an ordinary man. And lived as an ordinary man to identify with ordinary people.

The transfiguration is one episode in which something of his Glory, something of His true nature is reveal to these three disciples. He is man but also God .

They know Him as a man. They eat with Him, walk with Him, tell jokes with Him, and listen to His teaching ..

And now, something of His glory is revealed. Just to three disciples. We don’t know why he chose Peter James and John .But he clearly knew that these were the three who needed to see what was going to happen.

And his glory is revealed just for a few minutes. It seems ephemeral, like a sunset, a blaze of glory: wonderful but over too soon.

But of course it is only His appearance that changed for those few minutes , not His true nature .

He always was both God and man.

He truly was a Jewish man born at a certain time, living in a certain place with a particular family and a particular group of friends: so Jesus as a ‘normal’ person was a true reflection of who Jesus was.

But he also was and is The Word of God , the second person of the Trinity through whom God made the universe and so the Transfigured Jesus is also a true reflection of who Jesus is .

This is what St Paul says in the letter to the Colossians:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

But for most of His life his divine nature was hidden. And now, for a few minutes these three disciples are given just a glimpse of His glory, of his divinity. And surely that must have changed them forever.

This leads me to think about seeing . How do I see the world ? Am I seeing it clearly ? Do I see only the surface of things or do I see deeper?

The mediaeval world view, which I think we are still trying to shake off, is God was somewhere else, up in heaven, separate from the physical world. It was difficult to get to heaven and the task of the Christian was to be good enough, to work hard enough to be allowed through the pearly gates.

Paul in those verses from Colossians seems to see a much closer relationship between Christ and the world .All things are made through Christ and in Him all things hold together .One consequence of this understanding is that we no longer see the world as a place to escape from because God is here holding the world together, holding us together .And we are given glimpses of heaven ,glimpses of Glory here on earth when we seek God and are in tune with God .

One of my spiritual teachers at the moment is Richard Rohr , a Catholic Franciscan Priest from New Mexico .

In his book The Universal Christ he says:

Everything visible , without exception , is the outpouring of God .What else could it really be?

He then quotes John 1 v3 : Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made

Richard says that that insight , that way of seeing has reframed , reenergised and broadened his religious belief .

Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

and every common bush afire with God ;

But only he who sees takes off his shoes…..

So the invitation is to become people who see .just as those disciples saw at the transfiguration .

To see that this world and indeed this whole universe is Holy .To see that this beautiful world is holy ground, is loved by God , is filled with God.

To see that Christ is with us and in us and around us . To see that all things are made and sustained through Christ and by Christ .To see that we and all humans , fallible as we are , are loved and valued more than we ever understand.

To see Christ in friend and stranger and even in enemy , in those who say or do things that we find abhorrent. We never know their story , but Christ does .

To see that Everything visible , without exception , is the outpouring of God.

Trying to learn to see like this is where I am now , part of my pilgrimage .my seeking of God .

I hope this helps you .

Bless you all ,

Paul