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, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
Today’s passage echoes the words spoken from heaven at Jesus’s baptism. However this time the disciples closest to Jesus share a glimpse of the relationship Jesus has with his father. The disciples have previously noticed that Jesus slips away on his own: now they are invited to accompany him.
Like Moses and Elijah before them, this is an overwhelming mountaintop experience – a powerful revelation of the holiness and glory of God. They must have shielded their eyes from the blinding light as they hear the declaration of love from the heavens.
We are living in a world longing for love – the shops are full of red gifts and cards, tokens of love freighted with obligation. Special filters on social media, themed television advertising and talk show sets all amplify the message that we should be marking the season by proclaiming our love in a special way. So if you are not in a loving relationship you may feel oppressed by the colour scheme and the implication that you should be buying stuff to show that you care for the true love in our life.
I am reminded of an old Graham Kendrick ballad which has the line “Does anybody love you for just who you are?” The Christian can answer ‘yes’, even if they are one of this country’s 8 million people who live alone. As followers of Jesus we are drawn into the loving relationship of the Trinity. As children of God, like Jesus, we can know ourselves beloved. And, like the disciples before we should pay attention to what God says next, namely listen to him.
So whatever your circumstances today, hear this, you really are God’s beloved. That love is more than a card or gift, that love really is forever. How does that make you feel? Maybe you know someone who needs to hear that message too.
Gracious God, We thank you for drawing us into your circle of love. We lift to you all who need your loving presence today those who feel alone, those who feel they don’t matter, those who feel unloved, those who are grieving. Help us to love as you love us and make someone else feel special today. Amen
The Rev’d Viv Henderson, Minister of Minehead URC and Chaplain at Wellesley Hospital, Wellington