Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)
This Sunday is a day in the church year called Transfiguration Sunday. It is the last Sunday before Lent starts. Transfiguration is a big word that we don’t use very often. What we remember on Transfiguration Sunday is how Jesus’ appearance – the way he looked – changed when we went up on a mountain with three of his followers, Peter, James, and John.
As Jesus, Peter, James, and John were on the mountain top, right before their very eyes, Jesus was transfigured or transformed. His clothes became a dazzling white, bright and shiny like the sun. Then Moses and Elijah appeared with them. Moses and Elijah had lived a long time ago and taught people about God. Peter was so excited that he wanted to build some shelters so they stay in this holy moment forever.
Then, just like when Jesus was baptized, a cloud appeared and voice from heaven said, “This is my son, the Beloved. Listen to him.”
Let’s watch the video and learn more about this story.
Maybe you’ve seen a Transformers movie or had a transformers toy. You know that a transformer can change from one thing into another. That’s what happened when Jesus went up the mountain with Peter, James, and John. He was transfigured or transformed. His clothes became dazzling white, bright and shiny like the sun. But that wasn’t the only amazing thing that happened that day. A cloud appeared and a voice from heaven said, “This is my son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” This was God’s telling them that Jesus is God’s Son and is loved by God and that we should listen to Jesus. This same thing happened when Jesus was baptized. As he came up out of the water of the Jordan River, God’s voice was heard to say, “This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased.”
When you and I are baptized, we are transformed. We are changed. God washes away our sin, makes us part of God’s family forever, and gives us the gift of eternal life. We are transformed into a new creation, a child of God, and nothing can ever change us back. We are always God’s child and God will always be with us and God will always love us.
Why is it important to listen to others?
God says to listen to Jesus. How can you listen to Jesus?
This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time when we focus on God and put God first. What do you need to transform in your life in order to focus on God more?
Little Light. Go Fish Guys.
The disciples were surprised by Jesus’ transformation. God’s changes can be surprising. Let’s see some more changes.
Use a foam cup and draw a picture of yourself on the cup. Put ½” of acetone or nail polish remover in a bowl. Set the foam cup in the bowl. Once the cup has melted, pick up the foam and mold it into a new creation. Let it harden. Use craft materials to decorate your new creation.
The day before Ash Wednesday is called Shrove Tuesday. The name “shrove” comes from the practice of going to church to confess your sins and receive absolution (being “shriven”) before Lent. Shrove Tuesday is sometimes called Fat Tuesday because people used up their eggs and fats before Lent by making pancakes on this day. Make some plans to observe Fat Tuesday at home with a pancake breakfast for dinner.
Consider using the ideas in this handout at home for Ash Wednesday:
Ash Wednesday begins Lent, a season of repentance and renewal of our faith. On Ash Wednesday we remember with prayer, and with the tangible symbol of ashes, our mortal nature, our place in the cycle of life, and our dependence on God. Many people prepare for Lent’s humbling nature and call to simplicity the day before Ash Wednesday, on what is called Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, by using the sugar and fat from their cupboards in their last feast or large celebration before Easter. The Lenten season of reflection and simplicity spans 40 days, not including Sundays. (Sundays always celebrate Jesus’ resurrection.) This
commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry, as recorded by the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Though this season is solemn and reflective, it is also a time of preparing our spirits for all that is to come; a “spring cleaning” for the soul. As is said in Godly Play, Lent is a time spent “getting ready to come close to the mystery of Easter.”
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
God will not always accuse, nor keep anger for ever.
God does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is God’s steadfast love;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far God removes our transgressions from us.
As a parent has compassion for their children,
so the Lord has compassion.
For God knows how we were made;
God remembers that we are dust.
The focal point of Ash Wednesday is the imposition of ashes in the sign of the cross on the forehead. Ashes have several ritual and symbolic meanings. In the Older Testament, ashes are often part of stories of pleas to God for mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. The prophet Daniel dressed in sackcloth and ashes as a sign of his people’s regret for the ways they had turned away from God (Daniel 9:3). The Ninevites did the same when they turned away from corruption and back toward God (Jonah 3:6,10). Central to Ash Wednesday is the invitation to reflect on our own mortality, with a focus on the words God speaks to Adam in Genesis 3:19: “For dust you are and to dust you shall return.” The sign of the cross on our forehead with ashes recalls our baptism, and reminds us that in both life and life beyond life we belong to God; we are “marked as Christ’s own forever.” Many churches burn last year’s Palm Sunday palms for their Ash Wednesday ashes. This reminds us that the cycle of the church year is full and complete, and that following the
Way of Jesus encompasses this fullness, from birth to death. If you don’t have access to ashes from your faith community, consider burning your own from palms blessed last Palm Sunday — or you may simply mark your forehead with your thumb. Whether with ashes or your thumb, the following Ash Wednesday prayer is appropriate: Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: May these ashes [or this action] be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. When making the sign of the cross on your forehead, or the forehead of a family member, you might say, Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. After the cross is marked, offer your own prayer to God. What do you notice as you receive or contemplate receiving ashes? Is there anything you would like to let go of and place in God’s hands? What does it mean to you to be claimed as God’s own, in life and in life beyond life?
Anne E. Kitsch, The Anglian Family Prayer Book, Morehouse Publishing, p. 133.
God of all mercy, you love all that you have made. You forgive the sins of all who are truly sorry. Create and make in us clean hearts, that we, humbly confessing our sins and knowing our brokenness, may receive forgiveness and blessing; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Created by The Rev. Jennifer McNally, priest at Saint Anne’s Episcopal Church and convener of dinner church Table 229, St. Paul, Minnesota, and The Rev. Anna V. Ostenso Moore, Associate for Family Ministry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, and author of the picture books “Today Is a Baptism Day” and “We Gather at This Table.” Please share freely!
God, we thank you that we are transformed through the water and Word of baptism. Help us always remember that we are your children and nothing can ever change that. Amen.
Pastor Dan Fugate, Assistant to the Bishop for Discipleship in the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, ELCA, put this lesson together for Sunday School @ Home. Contact him at email@example.com.