Thursday, August 09, 2007

Power and Transfiguration

Thursday, August 9, 2007 -- Week of Proper 13

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from (go to St. Paul's Home Page and click "Morning Reflection podcast")

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 978)
Psalms [83] or 145 (morning) 85, 86 (evening)
2 Samuel 11:1-27
Acts 19:11-20
Mark 9:2-13

The readings we've had in 2 Samuel lately show David as a crafty ruler of questionable ethics. He had a Machiavellian streak in him -- his dealings with Saul's family and his use of the sons of Zeruiah to do his dirty work. Today he seduces Bathsheba and tries unsuccessfully to dupe the loyal Uriah. So he has Uriah killed under the cover of battle. This is the ugly, worldly manipulation of power that we see in various guises daily.

What a contrast we have with the reading of Mark's version of the transfiguration. For a moment Peter, James and John are able to see more deeply into reality. They have a vision of Jesus as he really is. Within this cloud there is knowing and unknowing, but they are in touch with a more significant meaning.

And in Acts it seems that we have the mixture of the lives of transfiguration and of manipulation. Magicians and itinerant exorcists seek to manipulate power and are blocked. But the spiritual power of Jesus that emanates from Paul brings healing and congruity.

Rabbi Michael Lerner's research through the Institute of Labor and Mental Health has spent the last twenty-nine years studying working people. They have found that nearly everyone they interview wants to feel that their work is about something with meaning and a higher purpose. They also found that nearly everyone works within an environment that is governed by the drive to make money and to maximize the power of the institution that they work for. There are very few jobs that invite people to work for a higher purpose of significant meaning. It's about money and power.

For many people, religion was the only place where they found a sense of meaning and purpose and an alternative source of power. The researchers also found that though the churches often articulated messages which rejected the materialistic values of the world of money and power, they didn't ask their people to try to change the world they live and work in. In the name of religious values they often supported political and economic policies that actually reinforced the money and power driven agenda that seemed so draining to their people's lives. The ugly, worldly manipulation of power continues without a vigorous challenge from people with religious values.

Peter, James and John got to see into the depths of meaning and purpose that Jesus brings to the world. But it is a vision that will be challenged. Immediately after the experience of Transfiguration, Jesus speaks of the suffering that he will have to confront. The entrenched economic and political powers of Temple and State do not surrender to the higher powers of love and compassion without a fight.

But true power is stronger than mere force. Love overcomes death. Materialism eventually disappoints and spiritual people awaken. Whenever that happens, compassion begins to supplant manipulation; generosity transcends greed; and service replaces control. That's the agenda of God in the face of a world of Machiavellian values.



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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.


At 10:08 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Not all can be in the religion business. And old saying was "It is more important to like what you do than to do what you like." I recall the story of the monk who served God by working in the kitchen, he was able to find purpose and meaning and love every day, where most of us would feel such work devoid of meaning. My barber used to sell used cars, but found he could not look at himself in the mirror in the mornings because of having to use falsehoods daily in order to make money. The point is this, look for God and meaning in what you do and you will probably find Him, but if He is truly not there, then move on to something else.


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