Transformed by the light 1 Cor 3:12-4:2
A baby is born! There is new life. There is joy, there is future. A new light shines in the world. (turn on a lamp with a dimmer to full) When we are born, our life is something like this brightly glowing lamp; its new, fresh and full of life. But as we age, it is like the light of our life begins to dim. There are the milestones in life that remind us of our mortality; of the dimming of our light of life (Turning the dimmer down get the congregation to recount some of the milestones in life, but don’t put out.)
The finality and certainty of death snuffs out our light of life. Psalm 103:15-16 reminds us of our dimming light: As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.’ (turn off light)
There is a point in life, when all of us will realise our life is dimming. Yes, for some, this revelation will come at old age, yet for others, the dimming of their light of life may come at an early age. Sickness, injury, depression, loneliness or hopelessness, reveal to us that our light of life is dimming. It is at these times when it is hardest to comprehend and see the reality St Paul’s words that ‘we, … are being transformed into [Christ’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory.’
Just the other day I was with an elderly gentleman. His head was balding, with only a small ring of white hair remaining. His face was weathered with age, his eyes showed that his years had been hard; he was a retired Uniting Church minister and he was leading us in a minister’s retreat. He told us of the time when he looked into the mirror, it was his awakening, a realisation that he was now an old man; his light was dimming. He, as we all do, struggled to grasp the good news that, ‘we..are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory’. When he looked into the mirror, all he saw was death; he could not grasp the reality that some how Christ was in him shining in ‘ever-increasing glory.’
He wrote this poem…
Like the poem, Jesus’ disciple’s often peered and probed into Jesus, hoping to see a glimpse, a vision of the light and glory he often spoke about, yet it was not forth coming. Jesus, the one who claimed to be the light of the world, seemed to be dimming like all of us. In fact, he would often talk about his death to them saying, ‘the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death.’
Yet suddenly, in this dimness of light, in Jesus’ very body and life that was heading towards death, the bright gospel light is suddenly revealed. Luke writes ‘As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.’
Jesus is transfigured, revealing the hidden glory of God that is within his very being; the light, the power, the awesomeness of God’s love: the same glory that Moses used to look upon in the wilderness; a light so glorious that his face would shine, long after he left the presence of the Lord. A holiness that was so powerful, it was reflected on his face; so fearsome that the Israelites were too scared to even look at Moses and insisted he cover his face with a vale. Jesus is the light of the world. His transfiguration shines forth to proclaim that he is truly God, hidden and incarnate in the man Jesus, who was soon to be crucified. Yet because he is the light of the world, the glory of God would continue to shine even in his death. On the third day, he rose again to live for ever and bring many to glory.
The transfiguration of Jesus, the revealing of the glory of God, was a glimpse, a probing, a peering, a vision of God; a chance look into the glorious face of God. A face that shone love, compassion and grace as Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ So much love shone at that moment that Peter was awe struck and wanted to bask in the glory of God forever.
That very light of grace and love, that shone in Jesus, now shines in us. What was once shining only in the domain of God is now ours in Christ. What was once only shining before Moses now shines in our hearts through the gospel. The glory of God now rests in us through Christ, who dwells in us by faith. ‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ Our glory is still hidden in Christ. We cannot see his light. It is only by faith and will only be fully revealed in death.
Christ in us, as St Paul says in Galatians 2:20, changes our light of life, from a dying light, to a brightening light; ‘it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me’. (use the light dimmer and make it brighter and brighter) In baptism, we are born again by the spirit and water. The light of Christ begins to shine in us. As we get older; as we pass those milestones of faith, where we hear and receive Christ and the power of the Spirit, through word and sacrament, the glory of Christ shines brighter and brighter (get congregation to name some milestones of faith and turn up the light).
Jesus reverses our light of life, from a dimming light that is snuffed out at death, to an ever increasing light of life that will at death, shine forever bright as we shine together with him in heaven.