The Father's Voice
He [Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5 ESV) Whose voice announces our Savior Jesus’ relationship to God the Father Almighty and transfigures us in faith? Today at International Lutheran Church on this Transfiguration Sunday, we reflect on the meaning of the first article of the Apostles’ Creed, we see and hear clearly how our Heavenly Father has provided for all our needs even as we are transfigured for service and obedience in Jesus through the Father’s voice!
“As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way…” - the opening of the catechism - presents itself as a teaching tool for moms and dads to teach their children and extended household. Last week we reflected on the Ten Commandments and their use in our lives as a curb, mirror, and rule in our service to our neighbor and obedience to God. But who is God? In response to that question, we take up the first article of faith in Luther’s explanation of the Apostles’ Creed – what it means to believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. For Luther and Lutherans, the Creed is a simple three-part confession of what a Christian believes about God. While each phrase and word make a myriad of doctrinal statements concerning the Trinitarian nature of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, doing so helps us focus on our relationship to this God and what He has done for us. In other words, the Creed is not just teachings about God. The Creed serves as an invitation to fear, love and trust in God above all things and gives us the reason why. Note how the catechism offers a three-fold view of our relationship to our Creator.
What does this mean? I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. (Luther's Small Catechism, Apostles' Creed Explanation)
God the Father Almighty has made you and me. He provides for us everything we need. And He defends us from every evil. Note the detailed nature of God’s creative work. His fatherly, divine goodness and mercy is shown in His care for us throughout our life from beginning to end, but especially in His attention to make Himself known to us. The Transfiguration of Jesus is a reminder to us of the work of the entire Trinity as Jesus reflects the fullness of God’s glory in His face and as we hear the Father’s voice from the cloud. Like Moses and Elijah of old, now the disciples Peter, James and John hear the voice of the Father declaring His love for the Son. In and through the Son alone do we see that God the Father’s almighty power is used for us and not against us. In Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day do we see the Father’s Almighty power being used to defend us from all evil and take away our sins. In our Baptism, we live a new life of thanks and praise as we listen to the words of our Savior and trust Him. Just as the Father’s voice calls in the cloud to “listen to Him (Jesus),” so today we hear the Father’s voice and follow Him in faith with lives of praise and thanks even as we use all that He has given and provided us to serve our neighbor.
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