1 Church Street
East Harwich, MA 02645
Rev Dr Dianne ES Carpenter
14 February 2021
2 Kings 2:1-12; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Mark 9:2-9
Do you remember going to the movie theatre and seeing the previews… the posters of “Coming Attractions”… that entreat you to return for the next event… They don’t pick the dullest moments of the film… they try to peak your curiosity.
Sometimes the coming attractions live up to the curiosity they spawned and sometimes the film seems less than what you might have expected… and then there is the “I’m glad I didn’t leave…” the ending that makes the whole experience worthwhile…
Elisha and Elijah knew what was coming but Elisha hung in there and accompanied Elijah to the end. Elisha could not be convinced to quit! And in the end his journey with the prophet came to be a journey toward becoming a prophet himself. One who had a vital message from God for God’s people. The passing of the mantle was complete, and yes… it was like a promotion of sorts, but it was even more like a “coming of age…”
In the New Testament we also see Jesus’ ministry as a passing of the mantle. He passed his ministry of healing and teaching on to his disciples and they have passed it to today’s disciples following the master teacher but also being expected to carry on in some future episode of this Sacred Drama that is life.
“Twins, a sister and brother were talking to each other in the womb. The little sister said to the little brother, ‘I believe that there is life after birth!’ Her brother protested, ‘No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place and we have nothing else to do but cling on to the cord that feeds us.’ But the little girl insisted: ‘There must be something more than this dark place, there must be something else where there is light and freedom to move.’ Still she could not convince her twin brother. Then… after some silence, she said hesitantly: ‘I have something else to say. And I’m afraid you won’t believe that either, but I think there is a mother!’ Her little brother now became furious: ‘A mother, a mother, what are you talking about? I have never seen a mother and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have so let’s be content.’ The little sister finally said: ‘Don’t you feel this pressure sometimes? It’s really unpleasant and sometimes even painful.’ ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘What’s special about that?’ ‘Well,’ the sister said, ‘I hink this pressure is there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our other face to face! Don’t you think that’s exciting?”(Unfortunately I do not know the source.)
In that story the twin brother did not believe there was anything beyond what he could see and hear and touch while his twin sister believed there was a life beyond what she could see and hear and touch.
Sometimes we are like the twin sister and sometimes we are like the twin brother. We live in the everyday routine, punctuated by high and low points. The current catch word is “living in the moment.” But at the moments when we start to reflect on the meaning of this life we remember that our lives here on earth are a pilgrimage toward God and God’s eternal presence. We are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father since baptism. Like the girl in the womb who could not see her mother, we too believe that life follows this life, eternal life and that there is more to this life than we can see and hear and touch.
On the mountain Peter, James and John saw that there was more to Jesus than met the eye. During the transfiguration they got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ resurrection. Like them we too get glimpses of the presence of God in our lives.
We get glimpses of God in the love we receive from other people.
We get glimpses of God when badly needed help suddenly comes to us from out of nowhere.
We get glimpses of God when we look back over our lives and what we couldn’t understand in the past makes sense now.
We get glimpses of God when we see someone making a sacrifice to help somebody else.
We get glimpses of God in the beauty of a fine day, a nice beach or a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
We get glimpses of God when a passage from the Bible or a sermon strikes a cord in our hearts.
We get glimpses of God when we spend time in prayer and experience the loving presence of God in our lives.
The transfiguration coming just before Lent encourages us to intentionally begin our Lenten journey toward an Easter of hope and resurrection. We have made this journey before, but the road has been changed… maybe today it is more rutted, or the traffic is moving faster… or we are traveling with different companions, in a new vehicle, with new glasses on.
When Jesus and the disciples came down from the mountain Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone about His transfiguration until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Of course they did not know what he meant.
The glory of Jesus’ transfiguration was a preview… a Coming Attraction… preparing them to accept the cross. They would understand this only afterwards when looking back. The good times take us through the bad times. So when our cross is heavy or when we are tempted to despair about the meaning of life, let us look beyond the pain of the present moment and remember those times when we got glimpses of God, those times when God sent us his consolations. Let us look beyond the pain of life and see the presence of God in our world, and the offer of life that God wants to make to each of us. Let us look beyond the illusion of happiness that this life offers to the real happiness that God offers us. The voice of God claiming each of us as he claimed Jesus “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Mark 9:2-9 New Revised Standard Version The Transfiguration
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, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,[b] one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c] listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
The Coming of Elijah
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.
2 Kings 2:1-12 New Revised Standard Version Elijah Ascends to Heaven
2 Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of prophets[a] who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The company of prophets[b] who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of prophets[c] also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 New Revised Standard Version
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the 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.