Rachel Larson, Blacksburg, VA

Warm-up Questions

  • When you are complimented for something you’ve done, how does that feel?  Why?
  • When you are criticized, how does that feel?  Why?


A dictionary definition of “affirm”:  “to offer (someone) emotional support or encouragement.” 

I received a letter from a member of the congregation I served.  In it she thanked me for my ministry, complimented something I had done, and said she was happy that I was her pastor.  Though I don’t remember exactly what she wrote, I do remember the feeling I had.  I felt happy and encouraged—proud that I was a pastor, looking forward to the day ahead.  In short, I felt affirmed.

On another occasion I received a note that expressed a member’s displeasure and disappointment in my work.  I remember how debilitating it felt.  I felt sad and discouraged.  It made me question my talents and calling.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you suppose it is so difficult for some to offer affirmation?
  • What have you said to another that was affirming?
  • Have you noticed any change in how you view others by finding something to compliment and affirm in them?

Transfiguration of our Lord

2 Kings 2:1-12

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Mark 9:2-9

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

The story of transfiguration tells of Jesus and his disciples Peter, James, and John— perhaps his closest friends—ascending a “high mountain apart.”  The mountain is not designated.  In Scripture, however, mountains signify a place where God is often present.

While there, Jesus’s appearance changes.  His clothes become dazzling white—perhaps an indication of God’s presence.  Then Elijah and Moses appear, talking with Jesus.  Elijah represents the prophets and the prophet who will point to the appearance of the messiah; and Moses, the law giver, the man who leads God’s people to the promised land.

Peter is so stunned, he blurts out that maybe it would be good to build booths, or shrines, to commemorate the occasion.  The gospel writer comments that Peter and the others are so terrified they do not know what to say.  

While all of these components of the story are important, and offer lessons for the readers, the most significant part of the story comes next.   A cloud overshadows the mountaintop and God speaks to those assembled there:  “This is my Son, my beloved, listen to him.”

When God finishes speaking, only Jesus remains.  Elijah and Moses have vanished.

In the story of Jesus’ baptism, God affirms to Jesus that he is God’s son and beloved.  In the transfiguration story, God affirms to the disciples that Jesus is god’s son and beloved. As one theologian has written:  “By listening to Jesus, we learn who he is and who we are.”

The stage is now set for Jesus’ journey to the cross outside the walls of Jerusalem.  

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Peter wanted to build booths on the mountaintop? 
  • Why does the gospel writer say about Peter, “for he did not know what to say, for they were terrified?” 
  • What do you think God wants to accomplish in this encounter?
  • How do God’s words of affirmation assist Jesus in his ministry?

Activity Suggestions

  • With a friend or two, take sheets of paper and each of you write down what you admire/like about the other(s).  What are their best gifts?  Then share what you wrote.  Is this easy or hard to do?  Why?
  • Read aloud the Old Testament text from 2 Kings.  Summarize in one or two sentences, what it tells us about these prophets and God.  What is the purpose of Elijah’s appearance in the transfiguration story?  What is the significance of his and Moses’ disappearance?   

Closing Prayer

Good and Gracious God, we thank you for our Savior Jesus.  Help us to listen to him.  And help us to remember daily your affirmation of us in our baptisms.  May we seek the good in all that we meet.  Amen.