2 Peter 1:16–21
This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. The New Testament reading alludes to the Exodus passage. In both cases, Man meets God atop a mountain. I was struck by Matthew 17:5. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them…” I always imagine a dark cloud because of the word “overshadowed.” However, Matthew tells us that it was a “bright” cloud. How is it that a bright cloud can exist? What is a bright cloud? How can a cloud be bright? Nave’s Bible Dictionary points out that the transfiguration of Christ did not occur because a bright light shone on him but because glory came from him. The brightness of the cloud reminds me of the light resting on the heads of the apostles at Pentecost, the light God created in the beginning, and glory of the burning bush. Christ does not receive, reflect, or absorb light but gives it.
Tim Keller has been a highly influential figure in evangelical circles for quite a while. He is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and has written several books including the Reason for God and The Prodigal God. This winter, while thinking through the deacon ministry at our church, I picked up his book Ministries of Mercy and was blown away. As a rooted evangelical, the topic of mercy ministry and social justice have always been associated with liberal Christianity. However, Ministries of Mercy presents our biblical mandate to love our neighbor as ourselves in a disarming manner. Having read that book, I was drawn to his more recent book, Center Church.
1 Corinthians 2:1–16
- O Lord, Teach Me to Follow You (Psalm 27)
- Lord, Have Mercy
- In Christ Alone
- All the Poor and Powerless
The Isaiah passage presents a church whose worship seems spot-on. Yet there seems to be a distance between them and God. God then exhorts and reminds them of what he wants from them. The list strikes a resemblance to this morning’s Gospel passage in Matthew 5. We are reminded to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, free the oppressed. In other words, our worship is incomplete unless it is applied in the showing of mercy and the love for justice (1 John 3:18). This week we are challenged to consider the humility Christ exhibits in His incarnation and not take it for granted. Instead we need to consider our own poverty, nakedness, oppression, and in response to our emancipation in Christ, identify our fellow sufferers in the world. Only then can we be the light of the world. Otherwise, we hide our light beneath a basket and lose our saltiness. We will sing “Lord, Have Mercy” as a confession of complacency in the world. After this, we will remind ourselves of the glorious gospel and our great need of forgiveness by singing “In Christ Alone.” Our commissioning song will be new: “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters. This song explicitly connects these ideas by citing the naked, hungry, and oppressed.