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by the Rev. Bob Olsen

The first Sunday of last month fell on August 6th, which happens to be the day each year we celebrate the Transfiguration. The last time this happened was 11 years ago (2006) and it won’t happen again until 2023. So in the midst of our long green season of Pentecost we had a Holy Day, breaking the sequence of Gospels we have been hearing from Matthew. On that Sunday we heard Luke’s version of the transfiguration. Now we hear these passages every year on the last Sunday of Epiphany, so it is a story we should know well. Reverend Susan’s sermon got me to thinking. Jesus transformation in front
of Peter, John and James, and hearing the voice of God from the cloud wasn’t for Jesus, rather it was for them and us. Jesus knew who he was, Moses and Elijah knew and of course God knew – it was the apostles who needed to know. They needed to know so they could be transformed and her question to those hearing her sermon that morning, “how are we transformed?”

Her question reminded me of one of the hymns we sing at the 9 a.m. service “We are one in the Spirit” which ends with the refrain “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…”. For me that phrase seems to be the answer to Susan’s+ question. Through God’s love we are transformed and that love shines through us.

Bruges - Fresco of the Crucifixion orthodox churchMany years ago, when my new boss was briefing me on my new jobs, she spent some time giving me a run down on the various staff that I would be coming into contact with doing my job. For one of the individuals she concluded with something like “you’d never know he was a minister, from the way he acts.” At that point I was just beginning my third year at the School for Deacon’s and anticipating ordination as a deacon some nine or ten months later, so her remark struck me then and I still think that if someone I don’t know on learning that I was a deacon, responds with “you’d never know it by his
actions” that would be the worst thing they could possibly say about me.

If Jesus and his message is to have any meaning in our lives, than our lives should reflect that message of love. Our love of God and our neighbors should be so self-evident that it isn’t a surprise to anyone, when they learn we are Christian. Their reply shouldn’t be “oh really!” or worse a long pause because they remembered what their mother taught them about “if you can’t say something nice…”. Their immediate response should be “well of course.” Because we have been transfigured by the love and mercy of God and we reflect that love to the world – brighter than the dazzling sun.


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