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King of Hearts: God’s Transforming Love

February 17, 2020

Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”  Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Next Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday when we remember Jesus’ hike up a mountain with three of his disciples where an extraordinary event took place: “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them.  His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus” (Matthew 17:1-3).  The Scripture texts[1] describe events that occurred on high mountains where God’s glory was revealed. Moses is present in both the Old and New Testament texts.

The word transfigured comes from the Greek word metamorhoo, which does not mean a superficial change of appearance, but instead a transformation of Christ’s essential form.  We get our word, metamorphosis, from this Greek word.  Jesus’ human form was transformed or glorified to reflect his divinity.  God’s love for us is so deep and great that he gave these three disciples, and others through the ages, glimpses of his glory.  These glimpses of God’s glory assure us of Jesus’ divinity, and that we can believe what he said. The disciples actually heard the Father’s voice: “While he [Jesus] was still speaking a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  Listen to him!’” (Matthew 17: 5).  Hearing God speak directly to them, the three disciples “fell facedown to the ground,” overcome with fear.  Jesus was quick to reassure them: “’Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid’” (Matthew 17: 7).

About 34 years after Jesus was crucified, Peter recounted this experience: “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain” (2 Peter 1: 16-18).  Peter told us flat out that they didn’t make this up.  It happened—and he and James and John were eyewitnesses to Jesus’ divinity, and that they heard the Father speak to them. It was an experience that they never forgot.  I suspect that they thought about it almost every day the rest of their lives.  When they were discouraged, when they doubted, when they were afraid—they could go back to that experience and be reassured that Jesus is the Christ.  God revealed himself to Peter and to many others, who lived to provide their eyewitness accounts to us.

In addition to the eyewitness accounts, God reveals his love for us in every page of the Bible, and Sunday’s texts are no exception. As I write this on Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of a Sunday School lesson I taught 30 years ago to my class that included our two oldest children, ages four and six at the time: the Bible is God’s Valentine to us. God reveals his love for us and his plan for salvation in a linear narrative that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation.

In the Old Testament text, God invited Moses to a meeting where he would be given the law: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and the commandments I have written for their instruction. . . When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.” (Exodus 24:12, 15).  Because of his incomprehensible love for us, God gave humankind one of the most important gifts we have ever received: the law.  It was the law that help put order to the human tendency toward chaos.  It was a key part of the Torah—the first installment of God’s love letters to his people.

God loves each and every one of us with an incomprehensible love.  His love is transforming.  Jesus commanded us to love others as he has loved us (John 15:12).  We have all heard stories of how love turned a person’s life around.  My husband was transformed from a tentative father-to-be to a fiercely loving and protective father within a few hours after our first child was born.

God’s love is powerfully transformational.  Mother Teresa’s life is an example of the impact that God’s transformational love can have through one humble servant. She told us to “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”  She encouraged us to go about our daily lives showing extraordinary love to everyone we encounter—our family, co-workers, salespeople, sisters and brothers in Christ—everyone we encounter on a daily basis in the course of our ordinary lives.

In Psalm 2 David wrote, “Kiss the Son” (Psalm 2: 12).  In the context of his generation, it was a reference to surrendering oneself to God.  But it was also a foreshadowing of Christ—that we are to surrender our hearts to Christ. Christ is the king of our hearts.  When we open our hearts to Jesus, the Spirit takes hold of our souls and transforms us little by little into what he wants us to be. It is not a superficial transformation in appearance, but rather one that occurs deep within our souls as we seek to do God’s will to love others as he loves us.

Are you ready to be transfigured? Refigured? Remolded? Remade? Transformed?

Surrender your heart to God’s transforming love.  God’s love for us is the source of our love for others; it is a deep well that will never run dry.

Prayer: Father, you are the King of our hearts.  Thank you for giving us eyewitnesses to your glory. Thank you for revealing yourself to the three disciples and to many others throughout the ages, so that we can be assured of your love for us and your plan of salvation.  Help us open our hearts to you each day with a willingness to be transformed by the power of your love for us. Help us to go about our ordinary tasks with extraordinary love.  Amen.

Diane Cieslikowski Reagan

[1] The Scripture texts for Transfiguration Sunday are Exodus 24:8-18; Psalm 2:6-12; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9.

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