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Der Samuel's Sermon July 16th, 2023

According to the Armenian Church calendar, today is the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ, or what people call is Vartavar.

In today’s Gospel reading, we see that the reading is divided into four parts. In the first part, we read the Declaration from Peter about Jesus. In the second part, we see Jesus talking to his disciples about his death and resurrection. In the third part, we read about the importance of the cross and what is the condition to follow Christ. And in the fourth part, we read about today’s feast, the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will read the transfiguration part just so you can remember. “Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud, a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him, I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also, the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.”

So, what we must learn from today’s feast or gospel reading? First of all, we should know that the presence of the biggest prophets Moses and Elijah symbolizes the fulfillment of the scriptures or laws in Jesus. Moses represents the Law, and Elijah represents the Prophets. In today’s gospel reading there are meanings that it’s important to understand. We see that how when Peter and the other two disciples were afraid because of God’s Voice. And we see how Jesus comes and says to them. – “Get up and not be afraid”. Today through this passage He is telling us Do not be afraid, I am with you. For a moment imagine you are in a situation, or you have a problem, and you don’t know how to come up with or fix it. And suddenly someone shows up and tells you “Don’t worry I can do it; I can help you”. The disciples were in the same situation because, on one hand, they saw Jesus’ face shining like a sun and his clothes were white and on the other hand they heard the voice of God. But today Jesus is saying to us I am with you, I can help you through everything. But there is one problem, we should surrender ourselves to him. And the more important thing is we should not forget him. Do not try to take advantage of his kindness, as you don’t like someone taking advantage of your kindness.

And the other lesson from today’s gospel reading is the power of prayer. It was a custom for Jesus to go up the mountain and pray, and here again, while he was praying and that’s not written in the Gospel of Matthew, Luke tells us Jesus went up the mountain to pray and while Jesus was praying, he was transfigured (Luke 9:28-29). So, it didn’t happen Transfiguration just because he wanted to transfigure, no he wanted to show us that prayer as much as helps our spirit but at the same time it helps our body, in other words, it transforms our whole human nature. It teaches us that when we pray from the bottom of our hearts, it has the power to transform us, and that’s because God starts to work in us and through us. And to pray doesn’t mean just coming on Sunday to church and participating in church service and that’s it. No, if you want to pray and receive your prayer’s answer you should make it a habit, you should add it to your daily schedule. When we read in the Gospel of Luke that “he took his disciples and went up the mountain to pray”, it’s not that he just wanted to go somewhere, it tells us that we have to leave our everyday activities and go up a mountain in order to pray. In other words, we should make time to pray. In Psalms 36.9 we read the following “In your light we see light” When we pray, we enter God’s light to see light and satisfy the thirst of our soul and pining of our body.

Therefore, The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ reveals His divine glory and confirms His unique role as the Son of God. It invites us to recognize His authority, trust in His teachings, and participate in the ongoing transformation of our lives through Him. As we reflect upon the Transfiguration, may it strengthen our faith, inspire our devotion, and remind us of the glory that awaits us as we walk in the footsteps of our transfigured Lord. Let us, therefore, listen to Him, follow Him, and be transformed by His radiant grace. Amen.

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