READING: Exodus 34:29-35; II Corinthians 3:12 - 4:2; Luke 9:28-36
SERMON : "Glimpses of Glory"
Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
The story is told about
A man took his new hunting dog on a trial hunt one day.
After a while he managed to shoot a duck and it fell in
the lake. The dog walked over the water, picked up the
duck, and brought it to his master.
The man was stunned. He didn't know what to think. He
shot another duck and again, it fell into the lake and
again the dog walked over the water and brought it back to
Hardly daring to believe his eyes, and not wanting to be
thought a total fool, he told no-one about it - but the
next day he called his neighbour to come shooting with
him. As on the previous day he shot a duck and it fell
into the lake. The dog walked over the water and got it.
His neighbour didn't say a word. Several more ducks got
shot that day - and each time the dog walked over the
water to retrieve them - and each time the neighbour said
nothing and neither did the owner of the dog.
Finally - unable to contain himself any longer the owner
asked his neighbour - "do you notice anything strange
about my dog??"
Yes - replied the neighbour - rubbing his chin and
thinking a bit - come to think of it I do - your dog
doesn't know how to swim.."
The story of the transfiguration of Jesus is a difficult one to
Many people have difficulty understanding what happened -
the experience is outside of their frame of reference,
- it just doesn't click with them,
just as seeing the dog walking on the water didn't really
click with the neighbour in the story I just told.
What happened to Jesus on the mountain that day?
Well - although the events on the mountain were very special and
out of the ordinary, in another way they were rather simple, and
not as uncommon as many of us might think.
Lets look at the story for a minute.
Jesus went away to pray - as he so often did,
and he invited Peter, James, and John to come with him,
and they went up a mountain away from the crowds,
and there Jesus began to pray.
We do not know exactly what he prayed about,
but we can guess from the rest of the story,
that it must have been about the decision he knew
he had to make very soon,
the decision to go to Jerusalem and face his death.
Jesus had told his disciples only a few days earlier.
that he would suffer many things
and be rejected by the elders and chief priests,
and teachers of the law, and be killed, and on
the third day be raised to life.
He was surely praying about these things,
and about what it meant for him and his friends,
when his face began to shine,
and all around him a bright light radiated,
and in the midst of that light,
two men - Moses and Elijah, appear
and they speak to him.
We are told that they spoke to Jesus about
all that was to happen to him in Jerusalem,
and that Peter and James and John,
who, as usual, were nodding off,
wake up enough to see this happening,
to see Jesus in this glorious moment.
Some time after the disciples are fully awake Moses and Elijah
depart the scene.
As they go the disciples try to prolong the special moment
they have witnessed by suggesting to Jesus that
they build some shelters for him and Elijah and Moses.
I think that the disciples suggest this, not for their own sakes,
as is so often suggested,
but for the sake of the real Jesus that they knew,
a Jesus who, like us, must often have gotten tired,
a Jesus who, like us, must often have felt the
need for rest and encouragement and support.
It was not to be however - for as with all special moments -
as with all the visions of prayer and gifts of exceptional
grace that God bestows on us,
the moment passes on and the next moment of our
What happens next to Jesus and the 3 disciples is, as a result
familiar to us.
No sooner than Moses and Elijah depart and the light of glory
begins to fade, a cloud swoops over the place of
transfiguration, bringing with it the ordinary world
that we all know so well -the world of doubt and fear.
All that is left to the disciples of the moment of glory they
have overseen and overhead is a memory,
and a voice that speaks to them somehow from the cloud
that they are in and tells them:
"This is my son whom I have chosen -
listen to him".
It doesn't seem much somehow - but it is, when we treasure it as
is meant to be treasured, a great deal.
It has been my privilege to talk to two people in recent years
who have experienced something of what Jesus experienced that
They too have been aware that they are about to die,
and in the midst of their prayers and their sufferings, their
hopes and their worries, they have had a moment that has
convinced them that everything would be
as it should be,
a moment in which so much peace was given to them
that it allowed them to say to me and to their families,
that everything would indeed work out
as it is supposed to work out,
as Jesus has said it will work out.
Most of you have heard about the moments I speak about -
the sense that some people have had,
that Jesus, or some other person, clothed in light,
has come to them, and taken them by the hand,
and showed to them their approaching death,
and the glory that lies beyond it.
It is a passing moment,
but it leaves its impact on the person who experiences it,
it gives them the confidence to face what is coming,
and the ability to tell others that all is as it
should be - that light has come into the darkness
and that while the darkness was very real,
it is, and it will be, at the end, overcome.
We might call events like this a glimpse of glory,
a moment in which the world, like Jesus' world on the mount
that day, is transfigured.
These moments, these glimpses of glory, are gifts,
gifts from God designed to help those who experience them
continue on in the course of faithfulness that God
has set for them,
whether it be in living - or in dying.
That is what the transfiguration was for Jesus,
it was a time in which he was confirmed in his mission,
a time in which he was encouraged to continue on
in the confidence that God was with him and
that the prophets were beside him
in all his joys and in all his sorrows.
For the disciples who oversaw the moment given to Jesus,
there was also a message -- the message was that they should
listen to Jesus because He is the chosen son of God
I believe that the transfiguration of Jesus was a moment that God
gave to him to strengthen him for his own death.
But this my friends, is not the only kind of glory we are
able to glimpse in this life -
it is not just around death that we get to experience
something special from God.
God gives to us, on occasion other glimpses of glory.
Think of Moses - whose face shone with a special light
whenever he entered the tabernacle to listen to God,
Think of Elijah who discovered God was still with him,
in the still small voice,
Think of Paul who heard Jesus speaking to him
as he travelled to Damascus,
Of John Wesley - who upon hearing a preacher speak of God's
free gift of forgiveness and grace felt his heart being
Think of those you know who have insisted that they are sure that
Jesus or God or an angel has visited them in their sleep and
comforted them or told them what they should do.
These moments, while very special, are not uncommon.
There was a time in my life when I was not so sure I should
be a preacher - and I struggled with it,
and I fought with my own sense of unworthiness,
and my own sense that the job is a futile one,
that it avails no body anything.
In the midst of this time,
a time when I was praying and meditating harder than
I ever had before,
events led me to a private worship service,
a service in which I was asked by the priest
to make confession before God,
and with many tears and much struggle,
I poured out my heart before him.
The priest then asked me
"do you believe that God forgives sins through
Jesus Christ and that he gives authority to his
followers to forgive sins in his name..
And when I replied, "yes", he said - in the name of Jesus, your
sins are forgiven - and as he said these words a chill, like an
electric shock, ran up and down me and the words came to my mind
"This is what I do, this is what I am called to do,
this is what I should be doing."
I knew in that moment I was forgiven by God and I felt confirmed
in my calling like I never had before.
Since that time - the clouds have come,
bringing the usual fears and worries of this world,
but that moment is there in my heart,
reminding me, when I care to listen to it,
that I am doing what I am supposed to do.
Other people have similar stories to tell,
there are people here today,
who have felt the presence of God holding them up
during a bedside communion service
as someone important to them received
their last taste of the body and blood
There are others who have realized that God has been by their
side as they have struggled with an illness or spoken for the
very first time about their faith to a group of people.
There are many people, however, who while believers, are like the
man who was lost in the desert:
Later when he described his ordeal to his friends, he told
them how, in sheer despair, he had knelt down and cried
out to God to help him.
"Did God answer your prayer", he was asked.
"Oh no", the man replied, "Before he could, an explorer
appeared and showed me the way home."
My friends, the story of the transfiguration of Jesus is hard to
There is a mystery about it -
a mystery because it is a touch of the divine,
and we live in a very human world.
I call you today to look for the divine in your life,
to recognize the times you, like the disciples, have
overseen or overheard someone's time of transfiguration,
and the times that you yourself have in fact
had a dream, or a vision, or an intuition,
that has helped you,
like it helped Jesus,
stay the course and go forward to do what it is that God has
called you to do in your life.
Father and Mother of us all - we know that nothing can come of
nothing - and that without seeking you we cannot find you, and
without praying to you we cannot hear you. Help us Lord to seek
you and to pray to you each day, as did Jesus our Savour... Lord
Compassionate God, you have given us your word by which we might
know how to do your will. You too have commanded us to listen to
your son Jesus. Help us Lord to listen to you ... LORD HEAR OUR
Loving God - we have heard the testimony of the saints that you
are all around us and that you support us and strengthen us daily
making it possible for us to draw each breath. Help us to see
your hand in our lives and in the lives of others. Give us the
faith to see, hear, and feel your presence.. Lord hear our
prayer...AND IN YOUR LOVE
Caring God, we pray to you this day as well for others. We pray
especially for those who like Jesus in the gospel must face their
death this day... Lord Hear our Prayer...
WE pray for those who are fearful and struggle with doubt.. LORD
WE pray for those who face unemployment and want this day.. LORD
WE pray for our province and nation and for all who govern us..
We pray for the church and its witness...
O Lord, hear these prayers of your people, and in your love
answer them and all the prayers that are upon our hearts. Help
us to do the ministry you have given us. WE ask it in Jesus'
HYMN: NOT ALWAYS ON THE MOUNT
copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1998 - 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.