Saturday, January 23, 2010

Transfiguration from Laache, 1902

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Bishop Laache

Book of Family Prayer
Trans. Peer O. Stromme
Decorah, Iowa

Lutheran Publishing House

pages 606-608

Teach us, O Lord, that without the cross there can be no crown.

Matthew 17:1-9
1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.
9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

The Savior is given an hour of rest as preparation for his great passion; and the disciples are permitted to see his glory before witnessing his struggle in Gethsemane. On the mountain his divinity shines out through the servant form which he had assumed, and reveals that he who suffers is in the bosom of the Father; in the garden it is hid by tears and the sweat of blood, and reveals itself only in his perfect obedience.

All the disciples of Jesus follow him; but some follow him more closely than do the others, and hence are lifted up to greater heights, and thrust down to greater depths of joy and suffering. His life here below was labor and pain; but there were some bright hours in between. Last Sunday's gospel lesson, for instance, speaks of one such occasion of special joy; and he found rest daily in praying to the Father; and his soul rejoiced whenever hearts opened to receive the word of life.

In like manner his Christians also must take up the cross, and experience many sorrows; but they likewise have their hours of happiness, giving them a foretaste of the life eternal. However, as not all are able to go farther into Gethsemane, so neither are all permitted to be with the Savior on Tabor. Some may at times be so distinctly conscious of the Lord's presence and of the powers of the world to come, that if it should continue, they would no more be in the world; they are so happy that they forget all suffering; they may speak with God by the hour, and it seems to them but a moment; in their soul is a rapture beyond utterance, a union o holy fear and the delight of love, which surpasses all understanding. But this experience is not common to all believers; and therefore you must not make it the test of your own state of grace and that of others. Neither shall you ask God to give you a greater measure of such happiness than so much as he sees that you are able to bear.

Nevertheless, every Christian shall experience that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, that the love of God is precious, and that his word is sweet. Every Christian is permitted to come to God in prayer, and learn that a day in the courts of the Lord is better than a thousand; and every Christian will have special seasons of joy more refreshing than the daily tenor of his life. For we at times need such a lifting up, in order that the mind may not faint under its burden, but be refreshed after struggle, and be strengthened to undergo new trials; for which reason God has also granted us our ever recurring Sunday and our festival seasons. --Peter wished to build tabernacles on Tabor; and who would not? But the Lord did not bring your up into the mountain, dear friend, to let you now make your home there with him, but to enable you to go with him through the valley of of the shadow of death without losing your faith. There is greater danger in joy than in sorrow. Yet we must taste the cup of joy, in order that our sufferings may be a benefit to us; for without an occasional sojourn on Tabor, without such seasons of joy, after the measure which each may be able to bear, we would succumb in time to trouble. Follow Jesus more closely every hour; and your joys and sorrows will become more intense, and you will be transfigured after his likeness from glory to glory.

Lord, when shall I see Thee in Thy glory, and praise The as I ought, Thou light of all the heavens and fullness of all beauty? How long shall I walk in this wilderness, ere I reach the city of Thy habitation, and see Thee as Thou art? Give me a clear spiritual eye to see Thee; and give me now and then a foretaste of Thy salvation; that I may not become weary, but may serve Thee faithfully, and patiently bear whatever of suffering Thou dost impose on me, and rejoice in the blessed hope of seeing Thee face to face. Yet, O Lord, it is not mine to say what Thou shalt do. Lead me, faithful God, according to Thine own counsel; grant that I may never desire to rid myself of Thy cross, but may ever more gladly carry it after Thee; and receive me at last into Thy glory. Amen

Lord, guide me in Thy secret way;
With such a guide I shall not stray;
Bring me into a heavenly frame,
Unite my heart to fear Thy name.

O King of nations, Lord of all,
Before Thee shall all nations fall;
And every language shall confess
Thy glorious everlastingness!

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