10:30 a.m. Charles Fillmore Chapel, Unity Temple on the Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri
August 5: Feast of the Transfiguration
Bishop Janet Sunderland
August 12: Bishop Cliff Kroski
August 19: Bishop Janet Sunderland
August 26: Bishop Cliff Kroski
As August begins, we begin to see a change in some of our routines. For many folks, summer vacations will end, and students, parents, and teachers will ready themselves for the start of another school year. Yet the Ordinary Time of the liturgical year continues with some very familiar themes.
August 5th celebrates the Transfiguration of Jesus and we hear Mark’s account of this event. All three synoptic gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke) contain this story, and the story is similar. Mark’s account is the earliest gospel version, a story of transformation and change that connects Jesus to the Old Testament figures of Moses and Elijah as he stands with his disciples (Peter, James and John) on a mountain. All three accounts have the disciples hearing a voice saying,” This is my beloved son, listen to him.” Matthew’s account adds, “with whom I am well pleased.” All three accounts also contain a phrase that “the disciples told no one about the incident.” Since this episode is mentioned in these 3 gospels, the writers must have had a deep understanding of the importance of such as event in their narratives concerning the mission of Jesus. The account connects the Old Testament theophanies (divine manifestation) of Moses and Elijah who encounter God on Sinai (Horeb), and also mentions a cloud, as in the cloud that covered Sinai for 6 days. This story also contains a prediction of the passion and death of Jesus in Mark and Matthew’s account.
What does this story mean for us? Do we share in the transfiguration and transformation of Jesus by the mission which we have received as Christian men and women? Do we believe that the Holy One is pleased with us? How has God’s presence manifested in our lives?
August 12th picks up on the previous week’s readings, and in the Old Testament reading from the Book of Kings, Elijah is sustained by food as he begins his 40 days journey to Horeb (Sinai).
John’s gospel has people questioning the words of Jesus because they know his father and mother. They are placing their prejudices upon the mission and words of Jesus because they think they know who he is by his connection to his parents. Jesus tells them that he is “the bread of life.”
The 20th Sunday on Ordinary Time continues John’s “bread of life” analogy from the previous Sunday. Jesus tells the people about “eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Son of Man.” Unless, they do this, they will die, but if they follow his command, they will live forever.” How were the people to understand such words in the time of Jesus? Some non Christians believed that Christians were cannibals due to these words in John’s gospel. How do we understand the concept of living forever, when we know that we will all die? Perhaps these words today are as confounding as they were over 2,000 years ago.
The final Sunday of the month continues John’s gospel of the previous two Sundays. Even the disciples cannot comprehend the words of Jesus. Jesus then tells his followers that his words are “Spirit and Life.” Upon hearing this, many of his followers return to “their former way of life.” When Jesus asks the twelve if they wish to leave also, Peter responds. “To whom shall we go.”
Can we, who have committed ourselves to living the mission of the Christ, go back to our former way of life?
Peace, + Cliff and + Janet