Today, on this 9th Sunday after Trinity, we hear a very familiar story from the Old Testament or the First Testament. A family story from the Hebrew Scriptures directly out of the book of Genesis. And the book of Genesis is above all a family story. We know from our own experience about all the good and bad things that happens between human beings, especially among friends and family. Joseph’s brother are jealous of Joseph, call him a dreamer and want to get rid of him. Negative emotions like jealousy, hate and fear happen a lot in our relationships with others, which causes bad things to happen. It happens to you and me as well. Most likely they do not throw us in a pit literally or sell us for a few bucks. But symbolically the might. It might be your family, friend, collegues or more worse….your brothers and sisters in Christ that turn their backs on you. The biggest underlying cause for this behaviour is fear. Fear paralyzes and let us do awful thing. Karl Barth wrote that fear is “is the anticipation of a supposedly certain defeat.” This is what rules the emotions of Joseph’s brothers., who fear and hate their brother’s favored status.
Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of the Lord. That awesome moment that the three disciples Peter, James, and John, saw Jesus appearance change on Mount Tabor. Jesus being present there in all his heavenly glory. Not only that, also they saw the appearance of the great servant of God, Moses, and the great Prophet Elijah. The word explaining itself as coming from two words, change (trans) and appearance (figuration). This feast remembers the transformation of the Lord before the witnesses and so revealing his true nature. It also remembers the encounter with two great figures of Hebrew scriptures or the Old Testament (First Testament): Moses and the prophet Elijah. Moses led the Israelites from the land of Egypt to the promised land after the ten great plagues and so God freed the people from slavery. The Prophet Elijah was perhaps most known among the prophets of God. His many works are recorded throughout the Book of Kings and the Book of Chronicles. He worked hard to bring the people of the Northern kingdom to return to God and leave their wicked ways. He had a lot of hardship and trials during his ministry, including persecution from kings, nobles, priests and the people that refused to believe in God. So, these two great servants of God symbolize the Law and the Prophets. Moses represents the law and Elijah the Prophets. Their appearance on symbolizes that Jesus was the fulfilment of God’s Law and the promises he made through the Prophets.
When we read at the appointed readings for today it cannot other then touch our hearts. And if it doesn’t touch your heart, it surely touches mine. I can imagine that these scripture text must have comforted many people through out the ages. Think about all the suffering people as a result of war and famines. We, here in the free world cannot even imagine what that means. People that see their families destroyed and not being able to give food to their children on a daily basis. I am convinced that if we in the free West would want to, we could put an end to hunger today. But we have to come to the bitter conclusion that our leaders don’t want to. They rather spend their money on weapons and other things, all for the purpose to remain in power, then to help the hungry and the poor. If we look carefully at the reading for today, we can discover one common theme: God’s compassion. Nehemia talks about the people of God. Though God freed them from the slavery in Egypt, they turned their backs on God through their disobedience. But still God did not abandon them. This shows Gods compassion. And the same in the second reading. Paul is writing to the Churches in Rome who were under heavy persecution. He tells them to have heart and courage because they serve a love of love and compassion. He writes these beautiful poetic words: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.