A novel that grabs and keeps our attention gradually reveals that which is not known. A novel, at each turn of the age, reveals the detail and progression of the story. The time after Epiphany is the season when Jesus is revealed. Consider how praying and preaching through the season might reveal the pieces of a story many of us know so well, yet in such a way that we may feel we are hearing it for the first time.
As we preach, think about the progression of the story of Jesus’ ministry from Baptism to Transfiguration, and give sharp attention to what is revealed along the way. Perhaps the lectionary readings for this season thus offer an opportunity to outline a series of related sermons [!] that unfold Jesus’ identity and mission.
Rarely in the lectionary do we spend such a long span of time in such a short section of Holy Scripture. In the Yar B Gospel readings for the time after Epiphany, we rarely get out of the first chapter of Mark … All the gospel readings for the season are from Mark Chapter One … This concentration begs preaching to be immersed [Baptism!] in this chapter
and to notice every nuance, every detail, and especially the progression of what Mark reveals as he sets the stage for the story of Jesus’ ministry.
Consider also that the season begins with three weeks of Call stories. First, there is the Call of Jesus at his Baptism. Then we hear Saint John’s version of the Call of two disciples, a story quite distinct from how the synoptic gospels tell the story. Finally, on the Third Sunday after the Epiphany, in Mark’s characteristically compact and sparse fashion, Jesus has already called Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
If we hold up to the Light the gemstone of our own calling [Baptism!] to follow Jesus, what unique facets of that gem make our vocations sparkle in Christ’s light? Think about how the progression of our stories reveals the significance of our Baptism and how their unfolding leads us to the Eucharistic Table and then sends us into the world as the Body of Christ.
If we’re marking the progression of Jesus’ story and our stories through this season, the last Sunday, Transfiguration of Our Lord, is certainly a high point, but not the end of the story. Although the cross and the resurrection are always at the heart of our praying and preaching, the readings do not take us to the details of those stories in this tie after the Epiphany. We will have to wait until we proclaim the Paschal Mystery during the Great Three Days in Holy Week.
Still, the Transfiguration is a climax, a grand revealing of Jesus’ glory that he will carry down from the mountain as he journeys to the lonely and gruesome hill, just outside of Jerusalem.
Jesus’ Story + Your Story + My Story = Our Stories
The Reverend Dr. David A. Genszler