Rev. Rosemary Webb
2nd March 2014
Can You See What I See?

If we had the time I would get you all to stand up now and go and look at the window in the Lady Chapel – some of you can probably see it, the Transfiguration. All our windows are lovely but to me there is something particularly beautiful about that one. I can understand what a great aid such windows were when perhaps the majority of a congregation couldn’t read.

I am not sure why, but one of the views which makes me most aware of the awe of our world is flying over what I think to be North West China. For all you can see for quite some time are mountains – of course, there probably are towns down there but at 40,000 feet you can’t see them. It appears that there is no life, nothing, apart from mountains, going on for miles, and in the distance the snow covered peaks on what I suppose to be the Himalayas. Coming from such a densely populated country the barrenness of that vista seems to be nearly unbelievable.

Throughout the Old Testament whenever God wanted to get people’s attention he took them up a mountain.

He brought Moses and the people to Israel to Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, his powerful voice made the people tremble; he wanted to make sure Israel would never forget that day.

Then in Elijah’s time, God again brought his people to a mountain – Mount Carmel- and there he challenged the pagans to a contest, and in the midst of that contest he sent fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice. Again to make sure Israel would never forget his power.

And now God brings his people to another Mountain – Mount Tabor. Not for the view but to make sure that the disciples understand who they are with. He is saying to them- do you really know who you are with, look at him: take notice of him – he IS my son. He and I are as one and he has all the authority needed to command all your attention; to have your love – you must believe in him. Look at him, he is here with Moses and Elijah, and take notice he is not a prophet like them, he is a far greater leader, he is my son, the one you have been waiting for, the Messiah.

There on the mountain the disciples saw Jesus transfigured before them, his clothes became dazzling white, so white that nothing on earth could bleach them as white. Then a cloud overshadowed them and the Father’s voice spoke of his beloved son. Peter wanted to keep the vision, to build dwelling places – he wants to preserve that moment forever.

Pictures may remain but life doesn’t stand still, and in that moment of glory the disciples were being shown that ahead there lay suffering and sadness. But that also there would be the joy of the resurrection. Just as God had taken Moses and Elijah up a mountain he was taking Peter, James and John up a mountain so that they might see more clearly who they were with. And each time God was giving them a vision, something to cling on to.

We know the passage well; we may hear it again in August, but no matter how often we hear it there are always lessons in it for us, and the main lesson is perhaps that we too must have a vision and keep hold of it. We have to learn to see things in a new light and we have to teach our young to see things in a new light. Not to take things for granted, not to allow things to happen without questioning. Not to think we haven’t the power to change things, not to think we haven’t the power to say look what is happening, enough is enough, the internet must change. St Bede’s isn’t the only school recently to have had a child die as a result of the internet, my granddaughter was in his class and I know how devastated they all are.

The country is rightly horrified at what Jimmy Saville did, but is this as bad? People took no notice of what he was doing for years, are we walking with our eyes closed over what the internet is doing?

One of the lessons we surely must learn is to proclaim the Gospel with new vigour, to hold up Christ as our Saviour, to have the confidence to challenge the deriders and doubters. This passage surely truly reveals the majesty of Jesus, and the power of God. He went up Mount Tabor with the three disciples to show that as well as being their friend he is God.

We teach children that Jesus is their friend, that he loves them, we must make sure they realise his power, his power to help them overcome evil, his power to comfort, and the power of his promise that all who believe in him will have eternal life.

In that scene not only did the disciples have their eyes truly opened but I believe they got a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of that glory which awaits all faithful people, and I believe that we should take reassurance from that, that it should strengthen us as we journey along life’s pathway.

Lent begins on Wednesday, may we see Christ’s sufferings for us in a new light. May we be strengthened in our desire to serve God, to live out and share our faith, may we always remember that all we do is not for ourselves or even the Church but for the glory to God.

When we reach Palm Sunday we are not able to walk with the earthly Christ at our side into Jerusalem, but wherever we are, whatever we are doing we have the promise that through the power of the Holy Spirit Christ is always at our side strengthening us and guiding us. Jesus will never let us down.

Matthew 17: 1-9