Transfiguration of Our Lord
19 February 2012
St. John's, Chicago, IL
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of th Holy Spirit. Amen.
This month the Boy Scouts of America celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout award. The Boy Scouts had been in the United States for about two years when this all came to pass. The same can be said for our British counterparts.
In 1909, at the urging of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, King Edward VII of Great Britain created the King's Scout award for the two-year-old scouting organization. When the reigning monarch is a male, this is the name of the highest award in scouting in the nations of the United Kingdom. In a way, it corresponds to the United States of America's Eagle Scout, as each of these awards are given as the ultimate recognition of service to God and country. The King's Scout is honored as one who is a leader, a good citizen, one learning many skills, and a fine servant of the King. But in the United States, you have no king. Or do you?
You have no earthly king. Instead, God has given this nation the structure of a democratic republic. You elect many leaders; no individual is your monarch. At least, no mere human.
And that is the way you have been brought up. You tend to be a typical American, with an aversion to the monarchical form of government. You'd agree with the old Schoolhouse Rock cartoon, "No more kings." It carries over to spiritual choices. You fancy yourself as self-governing, or at least cooperating with other people. Often, you don't even appreciate the elected leadership! That is why entertainment such as Saturday Night Live is popular when they mock presidents, dignitaries, and last night -- history in the making -- even the president of The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod! But a King? That's not for you! So you think. You reject the idea of the true and everlasting King, and end up refusing Christ THE King.
Your King is the One who reveals Himself as He speaks with Moses and Elijah. Your King is bearing witness to His glory -- a glory that does not have its source in light or power, but a glory foreshadowed here, as the Old Testament bears witness and converses with the New, and directs our attention to the coming exodus.
What exodus? Exodus means, "going out." Jesus would soon suffer and die and rise again, and in that great event of Good Friday through Easter Sunday, He would be going out of death to life, and from this world to the heavenly realms. In His death and resurrection, the King of kings and Lord of lords shows His ultimate, perfect, righteous, holy glory!
That is the moment depicted in the beautiful stained glass window that faces Montrose Avenue. It is the Transfiguration. Moses and Elijah are on either side of Jesus. The artist did something a little unusual, combining themes, though, and instead of the transfigured Jesus, places our Good Shepherd in the center pane of the window. Still, the image reminds us of the Old Testament confirming and conversing with the New. That they were speaking of Jesus' death and resurrection all along. And that in those marvelous events, Christ comes as you King and serves you.
That is the beauty of the new cross that adorns this chancel. At one and the same time, it proclaims to your eyes the glory of Christ in both the cross and resurrection. The King Himself has given everything and suffered and died for you. He revealed His glory as He redeemed you on Calvary. Then He continued to reveal that glory as He rose. Your King is risen and victorious! And now He delivers the fruits of that victory to you as He serves as your priest, bringing you forgiveness and life through His sacraments. A picture is worth a thousand words. This picture of Jesus keeps speaking thousands of words to you, without end!
This King you see before your eyes is the King who was transfigured to comfort the apostles in the days ahead. As they witnessed the frightening events of Good Friday, even though they still did not understand, Jesus had the apostles "Be prepared." He readied them for Holy Week. He blessed them to see that He is God in the flesh.
The King does the same for you. Still. Now. Only not in the same way. You do not see Him with His clothes gleaming whiter than any bleach or launderer's soap could get them. You do not hear some booming voice from heaven.
Christ reveals His glory now in the miraculous gift of Baptism, Absolution, the preaching of His Gospel, and in His Holy Supper. The voice from heaven now comes to you through your pastor. The glorified Christ now comes to you through water, words, bread, and wine. And in these gifts, Jesus Christ makes you King's Scouts in His kingdom, gifting you to "Be Prepared" for His death and resurrection, this coming Lententide, and always. He prepares you for life everlasting with Him, as you come down from the mountaintop and go out into daily life, nourished, forgiven, and strengthened by the Lord. Amen.