Monday, February 8, 2016


Transfiguration Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016
Text: Luke 9:28-36,

How many of you have been to Washington, D.C.? As you walk around the Mall you see monument after monument, memorial after memorial, shrine after shrine. The Washington Monument, the Lincoln Monument, the WWII memorial, the Vietnam Wall, and of course the great shrine of American history, art, and culture: the Smithsonian.
When Fay and I visited Philadelphia some years ago, one of he places we went was St. George's United Methodist Church; the birthplace of American Methodism: we even have a picture of me standing at the table where Thomas Coke convened the First General Conference. All of these are shrines, places considered sacred because of their association with our national identity. They remind us of who we are and from where we came. In a shrine we can find both peace of mind, and spiritual peace.

For Jesus, going to a lonely place to pray was not unusual. Now, as he had turned his face toward Jerusalem and the trials that lay there, Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. It was a long climb, and the disciples were tired by the time they reached their stopping place. As Jesus prayed, Peter, James, and John lay down on the ground and quickly fell asleep. While they were sleeping, {Luk 9:29-31} While [Jesus] was praying, his face changed, and his clothes became shining white. (30) Suddenly Moses and Elijah were there speaking with him. (31) They appeared in heavenly glory and talked about all that Jesus' death in Jerusalem would mean.

We don't know how long Jesus conversed with Moses and Elijah, but it must have been some time. Eventually the disciples awoke, and saw Jesus' shining like Moses when he had spoken with God. As Moses and Elijah prepared to leave, Peter, the bold and brash one, spoke up: “This is a wonderful place to be. We should erect monuments to you, Moses, and Elijah.” What a perfectly human idea. On the statehouse lawn in Salem is a statue of Jason Lee, a reminder of the hardships and triumphs of the early settlers of this state. In the foyer of the Bay City United Methodist church is a memorial to one of my ancestors, John Bewley who mortgaged his farm to build the church free and clear, and subsequently lost everything in the depression of the late 1890's. After the 9-11 attacks, our nation erected monuments so that that day would be remembered. The building of monuments and memorials reminds us of great events, and ties us to those who have gone before. For Peter to suggest a memorial to this occasion, even though he didn't fully understand it, was perfectly normal—even though Luke tries to dismiss it as a foolish remark. In any event, no booths are built, no monument created. Instead, the disciples are treated to a vision of the Transformed Christ, engulfed in a dark cloud, and hear the voice of God command them: "This is my chosen Son. Listen to what he says!"

“Listen to what he says.” “Hear Him.” The Greek word used here is closely related to the word used by James when he tells us to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.” It is a call to action, to not simply recite the words of Jesus, but to live in him, and live out his words. At a workshop on youth suicide, we were addressed by several young people who had attempted to take their own lives. When asked what we, as pastors could do, one young woman replied: “Don't tell me Jesus loves me!....Show me Jesus loves me!” To listen to Jesus, to hear Jesus, is to live out his teachings; and when we do that, we, too, are transfigured. Our bodies may not shine, but our lives will. Paul tells us: “2Co 3:13 “We are not like Moses who put a covering over his face so the Israelites would not see it. The glory was disappearing and Moses did not want them to see it end. But their minds were closed, and even today that same covering hides the meaning when they read the old agreement. That covering is taken away only through Christ.”...But when a person changes and follows the Lord, that covering
is taken away...our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord's glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings even greater glory which comes from the Spirit, who is the Lord.”

Is your life showing God's glory? Are you being transfigured? Are you, as Wesley says, “going on to perfection.” This is the time. The time has come to come down from the mountain, to leave the shrine behind; to begin, or continue that journey. The road ahead is not easy. The road ahead is not smooth. But we do not travel alone, and the one with whom we travel provides for our needs. This is the feast he has prepared to nourish us for the journey. Come, eat, drink, and travel on.

No comments:

Post a Comment