On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Readings for Transfiguration Sunday, Year B, February 11th, 2018

First Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-12

1Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
4Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
6Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
9When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Psalm: Psalm 50:1-6
Out of Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth in glory. (Ps. 50:2)
1The mighty one, God the Lord, has spoken;
  calling the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,
  God shines forth in glory. 
3Our God will come and will not keep silence;
  with a consuming flame before, and round about a raging storm.
4God calls the heavens and the earth from above
  to witness the judgment of the people.
5“Gather before me my loyal followers,
  those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice.”
6The heavens declare the rightness of God’s cause,
  for it is God who is judge. 

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

3Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Mark 9:2-9

2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Greek Text Studies Mark 9:2-9

Greek Study Mark 9:2-9

v2 μετα ημερας εξ "after six days" - This unusual time signature serves to link the transfiguration to the preceding episode.
παραλαμβανει (παραλαμβανω) pres. "took" - takes. Historic present, serving to introduce the next step in the narrative.
αναφερει (αναφερω) pres. "led [them] up"  Historic present.
εις ορος υψηλον "a high mountain" Obvious Sinai imagery. They move up to meet with the divine in a place close to heaven, a "suburb" if you will.
κατ ιδιαν μονους "where they were all alone" - privately, apart, by themselves alone. "Where they could be alone", CEV.
μετεμορφωθη (μεταμορφοω) aor. pas. "there he was transfigured" - transformed, visibly changed, a divine passive, God does the transfiguring. It is possible that it is just Jesus' clothing that changes in appearance, although it is more likely the whole of Jesus' person. It is not necessarily a change in form, but in appearance. 
εμπροσθεν "before" - before, in front of; local/spacial.

v3 στιλβοντα (στιλβω) pres. part. "dazzling white" - [became] glittering, shining, gleaming, glistening. The word is used of a highly polished surface. Commentators tend to see the dazzling presence of Jesus in terms of a divine theophany.
λιαν "whiter" - exceedingly, intensely [white]. "His cloths brightly glistened."
γναφευς (υς εως) a bleacher a person whose trade is to bleach cloth with nitrium.
λευκαναι (λευκαινω) aor. inf. "[could] bleach" infinitive is complementary.

v4 ωφθη (οραω) aor. pas. + dat. of pers. "appeared" this verb, "look at, see" takes the sense "appeared" in the passive; so a supernatural appearing.
αυτοις "before them" – a dative of direct object after the passive verb "appeared".
συν "with [Elijah and Moses]"  association. It is interesting that Elijah is mentioned first, given that the situation is Mosaic, and Elijah is "with" Moses, as if Elijah is merely “tagging along”.
ησαν συλλαλουντες (συλλαλεω) pres. part. "who were talking with" – the imperfect verb to-be with the present participle forms a periphrastic imperfect; a construction that heightens aspect (here the duration) so idiomatically "had a long discussion with".

v5 αποκριθεις (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. part. having answered [said]. Attendant circumstance participle, redundant. Semitic form used to continue a discourse.
Ραββι  teacher. Vocative - an inappropriate description of Jesus, yet, given the circumstances, if the lesson is "listen to him", then very appropriate.
ειναι (ειμι) inf. "to be" infinitive of the verb forms a substantive infinitival phrase subject of εστιν; so "to be here is good
ποιησωμεν (ποιεω) aor. subj. "let us put up [make] a hortatory subjunctive. Peter's suggestion is not absurd, given that his intention is to keep the discussion going. There would be much to learn from listening.
τρεις σκηνας (η) "three shelters" - tents, booths, tabernacles to protect the great-ones from the misty cloud that was descending on them. Another possible Exodus allusion.
v6 γαρ ου ηδει (οιδα) pluperf. "for he did not know" - he had not known. "The rare pluperfect form grammaticalizes remoteness".
αποκριθη (αποκρινομαι) aor. pas. subj. "[what] to say" - [what] he should answer. 

v7 νεφελη (η) "a cloud" - a sign of God's presence, his shekinah glory – a borrowed word from the Hebrew..
επισκιαζουσα (επισκιαζω) aor. part. "[appeared] and enveloped" - [there came/appeared a cloud] overshadowing, covering, enveloping - expressing the sense of the cloud coming upon the disciples and enveloping them.
ουτος εστιν ο υιος μου "this is my Son" - a repeat of 1:11, although here God's words are for the disciples, not Jesus, i.e. the messianic secret is coming out into the open.
ο αγαπητος adj. "whom I love"  Given the Hebrew background to this word, the sense is "one and only" or "unique". It is commonly understood in a filial sense, expressing a divine union between the Father and Son 
ακουετε (ακουω) pres. imp. "listen" This divine imperative is the central element in the episode. We are to carefully note the message of Jesus, the Moses/Elijah prophet messiah. The content message is contained in the previous episode, 8:31-38: the cross and empty tomb.

v8 εξαπινα adv. "suddenly" – unexpectedly- a similar sense to Mark's commonly used "immediately" referring to an instantaneous change in circumstances, an immediate return to normality.
περιβλεψαμενοι (περιβλεπω) aor. mid. part. "when they looked around" The participle is adverbial or possibly expressing the action of the subject, "the disciples suddenly looked around." "Suddenly, on looking around", Goodspeed.
ειδον (οραω) aor. "they [no longer] saw" - indicating the transfiguration was no vision.

v9 καταβαινοντων (καταβαινω) pres. part. "as [they] were coming down" - [they] were coming down. The genitive absolute participle forms a temporal clause, as NIV.
διεστειλατο (διαστελλω) aor. "Jesus gave [them] orders" - he gave orders, commanded, instructed. Used of a "strict instruction."
αυτοις dat. pro. "them" - to them. Dative of indirect object.
διηγησωνται (διηγεομαι) aor. subj. "[not] to tell" - they should tell. The need to maintain the "messianic secret" obviously applies to the transfiguration as it does for Jesus' miracles.
μηδενι dat. adj. "anyone" - no one. Dative of indirect object.
ει μη- except
οταν + subj. "until" - when [....... should arise].

αναστη (ανιστημι) aor. subj. "had risen" - should arise. Glory is assured for the Son of Man, but only after the ignominy of his execution as a common criminal. The transfiguration points to that glory, but is also, in itself, a prolepsis of the resurrection, a present momentary representation of a glorious future event.

What do you see?

But hereafter, when we are incorruptible and immortal and attain the blessed lot of being like unto Christ, then (as the Scripture saith), we shall be for ever with the Lord, fulfilled with His visible Theophany in holy contemplations, the which shall shine about us with radiant beams of glory (even as once of old it shone around the Disciples at the Divine Transfiguration); and so shall we, with our mind made passionless and spiritual, participate in a spiritual illumination from Him, and in an union transcending our mental faculties, and there, amidst the blinding blissful impulsions of His dazzling rays, we shall, in a diviner manner than at present, be like unto the heavenly Intelligences. — Dionysius the Areopagite
Transfiguration according to Mark. A time out of time in the story that Mark spins. It is often supposed that the Evangelists moved a post resurrection story into the sequential narrative. One may wonder if this is a western and modern way of thinking. In many parts of the world, when a child comes to breakfast and says something like: “I saw grandmother last night . .” the parents answer is: “Really? What did she say? Tell us. It might be important. “ In the West it is merely dismissed as a dream or the parents will contemplate taking junior to a shrink. So perhaps, as the early Christian document The Sayings of the Fathers would speculate, perhaps the problem of the lack of theophanies is our problem, not God’s and not Mark’s.
Yes, it is a theophany. All the traditional parts are there: Mountains, clouds, bright lights, the voice from heaven: the works. The season of Epiphany ends in a theophany and at the heart of that theophany is Jesus Christ, the Son, as proclaimed by the voice from heaven. That voice proclaims
Jesus’ identity and admonishes all who would be there to be attentive to him, the Son.
And who is in attendance and why is this important? There are two audiences in the Gospel itself: Moses and Elijah and the three disciples. I would guess there is a third, but perhaps that audience: us, the readers, are included in one of the first two.
The first audience: Moses and Elijah is the less obvious one but is there really any reason to believe that they are not addressed by the voice? Moses is the representative of the Law, Elijah is representing the Prophets. Law and prophet must listen to Jesus. Whether they knew that or not, it is being proclaimed by heaven that day: You are subservient to this one, you must now attend to him, and by him you are now interpreted. Moses and Elijah have a second function here. Chrysostom points out that both came out of the fires of trial. Both lived under oppression, Moses under pharaoh and Elijah under Ahab. They were men of spiritual battle. That is to say their victories were won by God directly but they had to have the faith to remain calm while it happened and not interfere. Yes, both men had failures in that but in the main part of their battle, they remained prophets and not warriors.
The second audience is Peter, James, and John, the inner circle of the inner circle, and future leaders of the movement today known as the church. While we have no indication from Mark what Jesus, Moses and Elijah were talking about, we have a snippet of the reaction from the disciples. They are
terrified, but they grasp that something Holy and significant is going on. When such things happen, monuments are built. Ebenezer (1 Sam 7) is one such monument, somewhere there is a place by the Jabbok river (Gen 32:30), and somewhere there is a pile of rocks by the Jordan river as well.(Jos 4:23) Think of it what you will, plenty of times the places where God was somehow manifest are commemorated, so Peter is not totally out of his mind. He is also not rebuked. The voice from Heaven Comes in a cloud and merely says to everyone there: “This is my son the beloved. Listen to him.” Jesus then tell them on the way down to keep the matter to themselves, so nothing is built or commemorated.
Peter’s suggestion also has a strange flair to it. He would built tabernacles for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Is that appropriate? If Jesus is the Christ is he really merely on par with the other two? Peter has already been corrected for his insolence when he attempted to tell Jesus how to do the Messiah job. (Mk 8:32) There he was put in his place, maybe restored to his place, forcefully, as one who follows and strives to acquire the mind of the Christ he is following. The argument: “Who is the Christ and who is Jesus,” is not over by the time they climb the mountain.
If law and Prophet have to listen and answer to Jesus then so does Peter, and if Jesus is the Son then Law and Prophet will certainly bow to him and like John the Baptist proclaim that they are not worthy to shine his shoes.

As they come down the mountain, they are told not to speak of the incident until the resurrection. They ask Jesus why Elijah had to come first. Jesus tells them that Elijah has already come and gone. A reference to John the Baptist? Perhaps. Both Elijah and John challenge an oppressive king. In both cases a jealous and powerful wife is in play. Elijah escapes the fate that John does not. Maybe Elijah is a standing for all the prophets. They have come but their voices have been silenced by the wicked and unbelieving generations to whom they were send including the disciples’ generation which killed John. (Mk 9:19)
For us, maybe that is good introduction to Lent: You have seen him be manifest among you. But that is not what is remarkable about him. He is powerful to be sure. He is the Son of God and you might even have had celestial visions of him. But as important as those might be, they are all of lesser importance than his cross, which he foretells thrice, and resurrection.