Devotional Nov 15 2021

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Psalm 89; 1 Macc. 3:1-24; Rev. 20:7-15; Matt. 17:1-13
 
Anthropology is the study of human behavior: every system of thought has an anthropology. Marxism assumes that humans are primarily motivated by group identity (capitalist, proletariat, etc) and by economics. Romanticism (in the 18th c sense) assumes that we’re largely the products of inherited ‘race memory’ and the struggle of the individual to assert her/his identity in the face of cultural/social pressures. And Christianity too has an anthropology: ‘simul peccatus et justus.’ We are at one and the same time both sinners and justified.
 
That’s part of what’s going on in the story of the Transfiguration. Human eyes, the eyes of the apostles, behaving as they’re wont to do given the pressures of assumed anthropology, have looked at Jesus of Nazareth and seen half the story, the half that they’ve already believed. They’ve followed their anthropology: He’s a wonder-working itinerant healer, a rabbi teaching a new-yet-grounded-in-tradition spin on how to live the Law, a social justice warrior calling out the callous forces of Roman, Herodian and Sadducee oppression keeping the poor poor and the comfortable comforted. He fits a lot of their expectations–exceeds them, in fact–and so they see Him in that light, a dusty fellow with a rustic accent Who is turning the expected order upside down in the expected way, if perhaps a bit more dramatically than expected.
 
And none of what they see is wrong. It’s just that it’s half the picture. Like dreary puritans who see only peccator when it comes to humans, endlessly harping on sin and evil, or airy-fairy positivists who see only the justus, equally endlessly harping on the power of positive thinking and the ability of humanity to build something approximating Paradise here in Jasper County if only we’ll all just get on board with the program, the apostles see accurately. They also see partially.
 
And on the mountain (Tabor? Hermon? take your pick–I’m a Tabor guy, but mostly because of the views and the early 20th c basilica by the brilliant architect Antonio Barluzzi), that partiality is filled in. It dazzles them, dumbfounds them, because now they’re struck by the knowledge that this prodigy rabbi is also Light itself, their ears filled with the mysterious message from the cloud. He’s still a rustic outsider with dirty sandals, but He’s also way more than that. And so, friends, are we all. Made in the image and likeness of God, fallen from grace and weighed down by sin’s chains, filled with potential and yet continuously self-defeating, we’re all of us almost as capable of dazzling surprises as was Jesus up there on that guesswork mountain. The trick, one supposes, is letting God show us for who we really are instead of forever playing it safe and keeping the light focused firmly on the expected and anticipated. In other words, to let the Light shine out of us–not our paltry little lights, but His Light.
 
And it doesn’t even necessarily take a mountain to do that.
Steven Wilson

Steven Wilson

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Grace Church is the oldest Episcopal parish in the four states area.
Rooted in worship of the Risen Christ, we draw our understanding of His commandment to love one another from Holy Scripture, reason and tradition—and we encourage our membership actively to seek a deeper personal relationship with Christ, a relationship founded in love of God and of neighbor.

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