Scripture Introductions

Transfiguration Sunday February 10, 2013 Scripture Introductions by Stewart Clarke
(I like intros. It seems to me that it is easier to take in the readings with some context. Introducing the readings may be like introducing a friend and offering a few personal words. The intent is to honour the friend. With introductions we want to honour the Bible and the intelligence and interest of the congregation. [1] Introductions may become almost mini-exegeses, but, even when they seem extensive there always seems to be more that could be said. Even after preparing ScrIntros, I sometimes sit in church, hear someone read and wonder how I had missed a message that, in the hearing, seemed so obvious and vital. If you detect error, please let me know so that I can correct it down the road, at least. If my view has been too limited, let me know. It is all part of my journey and learning. Of course, if you prefer to use your own introductions, please do so without hesitation. Or, if you want to, use these, with whatever modification you think they require. If you don’t want to be bothered by or with these messages, let me know, and I will try to stop the flow. Or, for that matter, just block them!)
We have learned, through Jesus, to emphasize God’s love and care, but this may tempt us to downplay God’s majesty, holiness, and power. Today’s readings remind us of God’s glory, beyond imagination or description! We thus can understand God as both majestic and loving. It is not “either/or”. God, being infinite, can be both, and we are challenged not to choose. In the first reading, we hear of Moses, whose encounter with God has transformed him and his appearance. (Earlier, Moses had visited with God on the mountain and come down with the tablets of the Ten Commandments, only to find the people worshipping a golden calf. In his anger, he broke the tablets, destroyed the calf, berated the people, and,, then, returned to the mountain to intervene with God on their behalf. In today’s account, Moses returns with replacement tablets.) [2] Let’s listen to the dramatic account in Exodus 34:29-35 We may prefer to hold our acclaim until after the Gospel reading, or use traditional terms or say something like, May we, also, be transformed by God’s Word. Amen.
The Psalm sings of God’s glory, God’s servants, and God’s forgiveness. Let’s listen to Psalm 99 (VU p.819).
The Epistle reading is from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, with which he has had significant contact. He had helped found the church and had apparently already written them ( which may have included what is now 2 Cor. 6: 14 – 7:1, which seems out of place, interrupting the flow. They wrote back to him about their concerns, leading him to write what we call First Corinthians. He then had a “painful” visit with them. There was still tension among them, with one faction challenging his views and authority. So he writes yet again. In today’s passage, he begins with a reference to Moses and the veil over his glowing face, and goes on to emphasize our hope in Christ.[3] To Paul, it was utterly essential not to slip back into legalism, which would, in his view, negate the Grace of God in Jesus Christ! It is vital that we not hear or suggest anti-Semitism in Paul’s rhetoric! He, himself, was proud of his Jewish heritage, but even more proud of his new life and ministry in Christ. Let’s listen, as Paul explains, in 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 May we be encouraged in our ministry and witness. Amen.
The Gospel reading shows Jesus in prayer, his appearance changed, though it is his clothes that glow, rather than his face, as in Moses’ story. The voice from the cloud repeats the message from his Baptism, that he is God’s Chosen[4]. The visual message shows Moses, representing the Torah (Law or Teaching), and Elijah, representing the Prophets, together, affirming Jesus’ ministry. [5] Peter wants to enshrine the moment. (In the following verses, we would read of these disciples being led down the hill, where they find the others perplexed by their inability to heal, and a family in dire need of healing. The father of an only son confronts Jesus, a firstborn son of Joseph and Son of God! And Jesus heals.) Let’s rise to honour and be open to the Good News for us in: (Or: Let’s listen closely for the Good News for us in? Luke 9:28-36, (37-43)[6] Praise be to God for the glory of his loving Son. Amen. It is appropriate to follow the readings with thanks and praise.
  1. With thanks to CAM, WJC and EMC.
  2. This passage is from the Priestly tradition (c. 500 BC/BCE in Exile), rather than the northern (E, c. 850 BC) or southern (J, c. 950BC).
  3. The Epistle thus fits more neatly than usual between the first reading and the Gospel .
  4. In Mark and Luke, the words seem to be addressed to Jesus, while in Matthew, they are to all who can hear them.. In this passage, the Transfiguration appears to be for select disciples! BTW, I miss quiet Andrew in this grouping. It seems that Jesus took some of the more volatile, with exuberant Simon, and the Sons of Thunder! RSC.
  5. We might want to remember that the Torah is the most significant part of the Hebrew Scriptures in the Jewish tradition. This is followed by the Prophets, including books of Samuel and Kings. The message in the picture is that Jesus fulfills the most important parts of Holy Writ.
  6. Why stop reading at v. 36, and miss the significance of the healing story, and, for that matter, why end at v. 43, which is in the middle of the story, followed by the lesson on greatness (time, of course)? RSC.
(Comments to Stew at