Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

March 3, 2019: Living in Glory


From Paul Turley


At the end of the carnage of the Great War in 1918, when more than 16 million people lay dead and the great nations of Europe had either disappeared of were ghosts of their former selves, the nations of the world sought not only peace but a way of maintaining peace. And so was born The League of Nations. While it was doomed from its inception for, among other reasons the turn to isolationism by the United States, the dream of transforming relationships between states did not die.

Nearly 30 years later, out of the horror of yet another world war, 51 nations of the world founded the United Nations. Since that first meeting in San Francisco in 1945 the UN has grown to a membership of 193 member states.

The United Nations, with all its faults and failings, could be seen as a contemporary example of the story of the Transfiguration in Luke’s gospel. The Transfiguration brought together visions of hope from the past; Moses and Elijah with hope for a glorious future in which the divine and the human were deeply connected; exemplified in the radiant light surrounding Jesus.

The UN Charter itself plus the UN’s declarations of Human Rights, the Rights of the Child, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – and all the others – attempt to call on our history as one human community and our hopes for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world.

Perhaps the founding and development of the United Nations is our experience of Transfiguration.

Just as the disciples, having experienced the Transfiguration, wanted to revert to old ways of doing things almost immediately – building shrines and monuments and trying to control the moment – so the UN and many of its members have tried, and very frequently succeeded, in flouting UN resolutions in their desire to put nation above united nations.

However, a lack of goodwill, courage, and vision does not stop the Transfiguration being a foundational story for the gospels and for the church, as we seek to live into the truth of God’s incarnation in Jesus and, in keeping with the creation story in Genesis, all of creation. Perhaps, too, the United Nation’s and its member nations’ failures need not dim the hope of the world that is contained in the first words of the UN charter: “We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom…”

Explore…Luke 9:28–36 (37–43)

There are lots of details in this story. Why do you think it is important to know that Jesus’ disciples were “weighed down with sleep,” and why do we hear that Peter did not know what he was saying?

What might it mean for us today that verse 43 tells us that, “all were astounded at the greatness of God”?

Moses and Elijah were central figures in Israel’s history and culture. If the Transfiguration had taken place in your city or town, which figures important in your culture might have been present with Jesus on the mountain?


God of all hopefulness, for all that has been done to create peace and security across the world, we are thankful. For all that must yet be done, we are hopeful. Give us courage and perseverance to live and work in faith so that all the world might be transformed. Amen.


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