As we come to the end of the season of ordinary time after the Epiphany, the scripture stops us abruptly with anything but the ordinary. Here is another epiphany, a manifestation or showing forth of God in Christ. This is the most vivid such manifestation in the gospels, prior to the resurrection, if you set aside the epiphany of the angels of the incarnation. This manifestation can be seen as a foretaste, of the resurrection appearances, and perhaps a sample of the vision of God that we anticipate seeing, as St. Paul tells us, not “in a mirror, dimly,” but “face to face.” . . . –– Sara Webb Phillips
Profound spiritual experiences are a normal part of discipleship to Jesus, and may become more frequent in times when we are intentional about letting him draw us nearer to himself, as we do every Sunday when we gather around his table, and as we do every year during Lent as we seek personally and corporately to reorient our lives even more to his way. But those experiences are not the end we seek. Instead they are powerful reminders, pointing us back to the power, wisdom and glory of Jesus.
As we are pointed back to Jesus, the Father's voice continues to remind us to listen to him. Not to the power of the experience, not to the prevailing wisdom of the day, not to hopes for glory for ourselves or others—but to the words and teaching of Jesus.
We as the institutional church must confess that we have not always followed this directive well. We have listened to philosophers or kings or emperors or scholars or psychologists or televangelists or church marketing experts or leadership gurus, perhaps thinking and believing in all sincerity that we were listening to Jesus in and through them. To be sure, sometimes we were.
But our first call, as church, and especially as we all engage this Lenten journey which begins just three days from today, is to listen to Jesus himself. We have his words, his teachings recorded in the gospels. . . . During Lent itself it is to [the] Lord . . . we ultimately turn—not only to hear his words, but to learn again, or perhaps for the first time, how to do them.
. . . Today we are on a high mountain with Jesus, looking out over the spiritual battleground that lies ahead for each of us. –– Taylor Burton-Edwards
2 Kings 2:1-12
Elijah's ministry ends dramatically as he is taken into heaven in a chariot of fire. The wonderful storytelling draws out Elijah's final journey with repetition of narrative elements. The listener's sense of expectation increases as Elisha will not be dissuaded from following his master. At last “the mantle is passed” and the story turns its attention to Elisha. –– Aaron J. Couch
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Paul pictures the gospel message as open and clear but acknowledges that for some, its truth is veiled. It is Satan, the “god of this world,” who has blinded them so they fail to see the glory of Christ. Those who believe “see” the glory of the Creator God revealed in Jesus Christ. –– Aaron J. Couch
Taylor Burton-Edwards is the Director of Worship resources for the United Methodist Church.
Aaron J. Couch is a co-pastor of First Immanuel Lutheran Church in Portland, Oregon.
Sara Webb Phillips is a United Methodist minister serving North Springs UMC in Sandy Springs, Georgia.
Homily Service 39, no. 3 (2006): 35-46.