Jesus has asked the disciples, Who do you say that I am?
And Peter, replying for all of them,
says, You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.
in his preaching the good news; in his teaching with authority;
in his casting out of demons; in his healing of the sick;
in his calming the storm, in his compassion and mercy.
I don’t want to alarm anyone –
but there is a theological error in today’s
It’s not a spelling mistake – nor an omission,
as in the case of the so-called ‘Wicked Bible’
in which one little but very important word
was left out of the sixth commandment,
so that unsuspecting readers were instructed,
‘Thou shalt commit adultery.’
But like the Wicked Bible, our error today
comes from England.
I will often use prayers from a collection
called ‘Times and Seasons’
which is a publication of the Church of
Our post-communion prayer today is from ‘Times
and it begins like this:
God, whose glory we behold reflected in the face of Christ…’
mean, it’s so obvious.
feel really bad that I didn’t catch it before this went to print.
all heard it, right?
not, I’ll say it again, but don’t listen, because it’s wrong.
God, whose glory we behold reflected in the face of Christ.’
That’s the whole point of today, or one of
them, at least,
that Jesus’ glory is not reflected
glory, but it comes from him.
When we look up into the night sky,
we see both reflected and unreflected light.
The moon and the planets reflect the light of
and the stars produce their own light.
We ourselves are reflectors of light,
light that comes from something else,
whether the sun or a candle or a lamp
or even the once-reflected light of the moon –
we shine with what can also be called
There is a hymn for Transfiguration Day
which talks about the brightness of Jesus
making it clear that we’re not talking about reflected
How good, Lord, to be
Your glory fills the
Your face and garments,
like the sun,
shine with unborrowed light.
This is why our post-communion prayer is
suspect at the very least.
For Jesus is not someone who ‘reflects’ God’s
who ‘borrows’ God’s glory -
he shines with God’s glory; he is its
On Christmas Day we heard the words from John’s
‘The true light, which enlightens everyone,
was coming into the world.’
When Jesus made his home in Galilee,
Matthew saw the prophecy fulfilled:
‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a
Right before this part of the story,
Jesus has asked the disciples, Who do you
say that I am?
And Peter, replying for all of them,
says, You are the Messiah, the son of the
He, and all the disciples, had seen the light
of God in Jesus:
in his preaching the good news; in his teaching
in his casting out of demons; in his healing of
in his calming the storm, in his compassion and
Jesus says that Peter’s got it exactly correct.
But as we know, you need more than one witness.
And so on the mountain it is the Father
who bears witness that Peter is right.
In later years,
Peter would write that it was the voice of the
who spoke to him and James and John at the
This is my Son, the
beloved, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to him!
His words are light, his deeds are light.
And yet, as the cloud dissipates and the
voice’s echoes die out,
his light is dimmed;
as he comes down the mountain,
he shines no more with the radiance of the sun
at high noon,
but he is the same Jesus who walked with the
disciples in Galilee.
Feet streaked with dirt, head creased with
eyes red with weariness.
He appears an ordinary man again
and that is because he is indeed an ordinary
Now you may be saying,
Wait a minute!
You just got done saying he was special!
The special-est of the special!
Now you’re saying he’s ordinary?
Not only is there a mistake in the liturgy,
there’s a mistake in the sermon too!
No mistake. At least, not here.
For in the Creed we confess that he is indeed
God from God, light from
light, true God from true God,
for us and for our
salvation he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy
he became incarnate from
the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
And an ordinary man at that.
Because it is for ordinary men and women that
he is light.
It was for us that he came,
and made himself subject to the vicissitudes of
and the violence of death.
He became like us in every way
that we might become like him;
that we too might be suffused with God’s glory.
Here also our ‘wicked prayer’ is a little iffy.
In the prayer as written, we ask,
May we who have partaken
of these holy mysteries
reflect his life in word
that all the world may
know his transforming power.
I get it. Jesus is the light, we’re not.
And so if he is the light, we must reflect that
just as the moon and the planets, including our
own, for that matter,
reflect the light of the star which they orbit.
But in another place, Jesus says to his
You are the light of the
Not on our own, not of our own,
but Jesus in us,
the faith and hope and love in us by the gift
of the Holy Spirit.
Here our liturgy as printed gets it right.
In the proper preface for today,
we will pray:
He revealed his glory
before chosen witnesses,
and filled with splendor
that human form in which he is one with us.
In this way he prepared
the disciples to bear the scandal of the cross
and showed that in the
Church, his body,
that same glory would be
fulfilled that shone forth from him, its head.
No reflection here.
The Church as his body will radiate his own
the people he has called to be his own
shining with his light in a world of darkness,
and the darkness will not overcome it.
We do not see it all now.
Too often our vision is clouded,
our witness is opaque.
But the apostle John reminds us:
we are God’s children now;
does not yet appear what we shall be,
we know that when he appears we shall be like him,
we shall see him as he is.
all who hope in him purify themselves even as he is pure.
We are God’s children now,
before we understand or comprehend what that
our sanctification is incomplete;
we are God’s children now because he has
claimed us as his own.
The vision Peter and John and James saw
was not just for their sake, but for ours,
for in it we are given a glimpse of our future,
and our present by faith:
Jesus shining upon us, Jesus shining in us;
he in us and we in him, God’s glory revealed.