Morgendämmerung, oder, Wie man mit dem Hammer theologirt.
Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit id es semper esse puerum.
Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano.
Homo sum humani nihil a me alienum puto.
Semper idem sed non eodem modo.


Verbum domini manet in aeternum. The word of the Lord endures forever.
1 Peter 1:24-25, quoting Isaiah 40:6,8. Motto of the Lutheran Reformation.

Fayth onely justifieth before God. Robert Barnes, DD The Supplication, fourth essay. London: Daye, 1572.

Lord if Thou straightly mark our iniquity, who is able to abide Thy judgement? Wherefore I trust in no work that I ever did, but only in the death of Jesus Christ. I do not doubt, but through Him to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Robert Barnes, DD, before he was burnt alive for "heresy", 30 July 1540.

What is Luther? The doctrine is not mine, nor have I been crucified for anyone. Martin Luther, Dr. theol. (1522)

For the basics of our faith right here online, or for offline short daily prayer or devotion or study, scroll down to "A Beggar's Daily Portion" on the sidebar. For what that stuff in the banner means, scroll to the bottom of the sidebar.

18 January 2010

The Transfiguration of Jesus, 2010.

The Gospel accounts of this event are Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36. 2 Peter 1:16-18 and John 1:14 may also refer to this event.

There are many miracles recorded in the New Testament, but this one is different in that it is the only of those miracles which happens to Jesus himself.

There is much to be learned from this miracle. For one thing, it gave the Apostles, and now us as we read Scripture, something of a preview of the glorified and complete life in heaven. For another, it shows Jesus as the Messiah, he to whom the Law, represented by Moses, and the Prophets, represented by Elijah, point.

Those two things tell us much about Jesus, but there is something about us we can learn too. What was the Apostles' reaction to this event? They wanted to stay there, and devote themselves to basking in this event. But they were told not to, that there was work ahead in Jerusalem, and not only that, they were told to not even speak of it until after the Resurrection which they did not yet even understand.

Are we not also like that? We want to preserve sublime moments in this life and isolate from, even protect against, what we are called to do in the rest of life. And are we not told that we cannot remain in these mountain-top experiences but must now go into the Jerusalem of our own lives where there is much to be done, some of it endured? And though we live after the Resurrection, do we not also not fully understand what lies ahead in our own lives?

Jesus both calls us to these sublime moments, yet also calls us to go forth from them.

There's more, which relates to all three points and drives them further home. In Lutheran observance, the commemoration of this event is located within the church year at that point in the progression of the life of Jesus between Advent and Christmas and Epiphany and his Baptism, and the Gesimatide preparation for Lent, Lent, Holy Week commemoration of his suffering and death, and Easter his resurrection.

In the Roman rite and Eastern Orthodoxy, it is celebrated on 6 August. This was always one of several dates on which it was celebrated. But, on 6 August 1456 news reached Rome that the Kingdom of Hungary had broken the Siege of Belgrade by the Ottoman Empire, which actually happened on 22 July, in honour of which Pope Callixtus III made the Transfiguration a feast to be celebrated in the Roman rite on 6 August. In Eastern Orthodoxy it is the 11th of the Twelve Great Feasts, and also the middle of the Three Feasts of the Saviour in August.

We of course are not bound by that, and there is good reason to locate it where we have, as the point of the church year in the life of the church is to celebrate and know the life of Jesus. There is though an interesting co-incidence (?) about the 6 August thing, Centuries later, on 6 August 1945, another type of transfiguration would happen. About 70,000 people died instantly and tens of thousands died later from the effects of the transfiguration, so to speak, of the first use of atomic weapons, in Hiroshima, Japan.

Thus the date of the news of one key military victory becomes the date of another. Even if either or both of these victories are seen as a turning point for the right side, Jesus calls us to another type of bodily transfiguration altogether, one not brought about by breaking a siege or nuclear radiation, and not a turning point in worldly events but the final triumph of God over the sin and its wages death brought into his Creation by us.

And oddly enough, 6 August 1991 was the start of the World Wide Web, a service available to the public, on the Internet which allows us to go down into "Jerusalem" in ways previously not possible. This year for example one can go to the top sidebar element on this blog and donate to our beloved synod's effort to bring relief to people in Haiti following the devastating earthquake.

Some things to ponder about transfiguration and going down into Jerusalem, whether we celebrate the Transfiguration on the last Sunday before Gesimatide, which this year is 24 January, or on 6 August. Or even if one is subjected to a wannabe version of the miserable revisionist Roman novus ordo, which does away with Gesimatide altogether (a post on what is Gesimatide and why you don't want to miss it is coming shortly here) and celebrates it as the last Sunday of a revised Epiphany Season on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, this year 14 February.


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Deacon Latif Haki Gaba, SSP said...

I love your pontifications, even though I don't say so often enough. Regarding the Transfiguration, I'm a bit unusual, I suppose, in that I advocate this feast being kept among traditional Lutherans in both parts of the calendar, in the temporal cycle, and in the sanctoral cycle.

Anonymous said...

Lieber Herr Elder,

I am a long-time fan who has found your series of posts these past weeks to be wunderbar. I am looking forward to your post on Gesimatide (as well as the one you gotta do on the Silk Road sometime).

I became somewhat suspicious during my years of sitting on the fence between Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Lutheran Orthodoxy (this option was a late-comer, having been rather difficult to find) that the 3-year cycle arose because somebody in Rome got this idea that they could pretend their stereotypical lack of biblical literacy was a result of their lectionary, rather than their theology, and they had to make some vain effort to show that they could out-Bible the Protestants. In my six years as a Lutheran I haven't been able to figure out why we fell for it.

It couldn't have been out of some misguided concept of "ecumenism" since it's been tinkered with enough now that I can't even figure out the current 3-year lectionary from the Lutheran one I knew six years ago. I guess we fell for their ridiculous ploy and had to play along. I am even more bewildered about our wannabe Novus Ordo Mass that was supposedly put together from the Protestant sources the Papists copied to begin with so that we couldn't accuse it of being another example of wannabe Vatican II-ism.

Whoever thinks theology and history are boring or irrelevant obviously doesn't know your blog. Keep up the gute Arbeit.

Jeremy Frim

Past Elder said...

Vielen Dank! I have taken up the matters you mention in a couple of other posts, one on why I do not use TDP or LSB, and one on On being catholic, in an attempt to point out beyond the superficial similarities of the results the vast difference between the liturgical aims and methods of the Lutheran Reformation and those of the Liturgical Movement, Vatican II and later wannabes. I may pull them to-gether for a post for 22 February, the dies natalis of the incomparable and inestimable Godfrey OSB, one of the handful of major influences in my life and the only one I personally knew. Well, along with his brother Conrad, who taught literature, not theology, the greatest teacher I ever had.