Sermons

"Looking for Our Own Places in God's Amazing Love Story," The Transfiguration of Our Lord, Year B

"Looking for Our Own Places in God

Feb 11, 2018

Passage:Mark 9:2-9

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Jill Walters

Series: Epiphany

Category: Love, Incarnation

Keywords: love, story, transfiguration, transformation

Summary:

Peter, James, and John have a story to tell about the Transfiguration of Jesus and their own transformations as witnesses to God's abundant love. The Gospel of Mark gives us a great gift on this last Sunday before Lent. The Transfiguration of our Lord reminds us that God’s love illuminates the world through Christ, even as we start the path toward the dark days of Holy Week. Lent is a time of introspection, of struggling, of looking for our own places in this amazing story of God’s unending, boundless, merciful love.

Detail:

May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen.

​Regardless of the calendar, the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday is always the Transfiguration of Our Lord.  It’s a time when God transforms Jesus’ earthly figure in a way that illumines his dual citizenship as human and divine.  The radiance of his clothes, his conversation with Elijah and Moses, and God’s declaration from the clouds that Jesus is the Beloved Son all paint a picture of a man who is more than a prophet.  He’s the Messiah, the one that Peter and James and John have been waiting for...the one we’ve been waiting for.

This passage in Mark not only reveals the transfiguration of Jesus, but also gives us a glimpse of the transformation that’s taking place for Peter, James, and John. 

Can you imagine what it must’ve been like for Peter and James and John?!  They’ve been traveling the country with Jesus.  They watch him teach and preach and heal like no one they’ve ever seen before.  They see things that they can’t quite believe.  They’re all working hard and surely very tired.  They’re on a high.  They’ve left their jobs to be part of this amazing movement...this revolution that’s going to bring the change they’ve been promised by God...a Messiah...a life of peace.

But then comes the low.  Jesus tells them that he must undergo great suffering, die, and be resurrected after three days.  Peter can’t believe this!  What’s Jesus talking about?!  That’s not part of the promise!  How can such a horrible end come to this man who can preach and teach and heal like no other?!  Peter even challenges Jesus about this and is quickly reprimanded.  Peter must’ve felt blindsided.  Where is the hope if the Messiah is to die this horrible death? 

Only six short days later, Jesus takes James and John and Peter up the mountain with him.  As they travel high into the mountain, Jesus is suddenly transformed before their very eyes.  First, his clothes become dazzling white. Then they see Elijah and Moses appear, talking with Jesus.  Mark tells us that the three disciples were terrified.  And to make it more frightening, a cloud overshadows them.  The voice of God then comes from the cloud:  “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”  Elijah and Moses disappear just as mysteriously as they appeared.

We can only imagine the roller coaster of emotions these disciples were feeling.  How could they not be terrified, excited, and confused?  Within just a matter of days, they’ve gone from the excitement of Jesus’ booming ministry to hearing of his suffering and death.  And now they’ve moved from seeing this magnificent light of Christ with two of their most beloved prophets to be overshadowed by a cloud which brings the voice of God.  

We’ve all had experiences that were difficult to fully communicate.  Times in our lives when we couldn’t find the words to do justice to what we had witnessed and felt and thought.  Even the words the gospels use to describe the Transfiguration fall short. 

The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus ordered Peter, James, and John not to tell anyone what they had seen until after His resurrection.  Even if they waited to tell this story, these disciples were being transformed themselves.  There’s no way that they could remain unchanged after what they had witnessed.  There’s no way that they could resist transformation in the obvious presence of God’s love.

Although we may not have experienced the Transfiguration of Our Lord on that mountain with the disciples, we have all witnessed the power of God’s rich and abundant love in our lives and in the lives of others.  We see the beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the Panhandle.  We encounter someone whose kindness lifts us up, if even for a brief moment.  We catch a glimpse of one person reaching out to another in their pain.  But how exactly do we put words to such experiences?  How do we share what God’s love has done for us and in our lives?  What if we know something has happened, but aren’t yet sure what it means?

Even when we long to share this Good News with others, we sometimes hold back.  Maybe we’re afraid of what others will think.  Maybe we’re afraid that we won’t tell it “right.”  Maybe we think our stories are not important enough.

But anytime we share the Good News of what God’s love does in the world, in our own lives and in the lives of others, it’s good enough.  Even when we think we don’t have just the right words, it’s good enough.  Even when we’re not quite sure what it means yet, it’s good enough.  Our understanding of how God works in the world may change over time.  Others may hear it differently, but it’s still an important part of our spiritual journey and it’s good enough.

It’s just as good as the stories of Peter and James and John.  It may not sound quite as exciting, but it is!  It’s God’s work in the world.  It’s the power of God’s love to change transform us and the world.  And what could be more exciting than that?!

It’s a great gift that the Gospel of Mark gives on this last Sunday before Lent.  The Transfiguration of our Lord reminds us that God’s love illuminates the world through Christ, even as we start the path toward the dark days of Holy Week.  Lent is a time of introspection, of struggling, of looking for our own places in this amazing story of God’s unending, boundless, merciful love.  

As we travel through Lent, we’re invited to share our stories of transfiguration and transformation.  We welcome others’ stories.  We look to our places in this grand salvation story.  And we do so with the knowledge that the light of Christ is always with us.  It is our hope and the hope of the world.  Amen.