March 6, 2011
Matthew 17: 1- 9
Grace, mercy and peace to you this day in the of the Beloved Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. AMEN
On Sunday nights I sat in front of the big black and white T.V. in our living room waiting for it, waiting for one splendid moment when fantasy held the possibility of reality. Then it appeared….the castle, the fireworks display! For me at a very young age this was the closest thing to glory I could remember. Then in a flash it was gone. But I knew it would return…every Sunday night. I was watching the opening credits for the “Wonderful World of Disney”. I was watching the place were dreams come true. For just a moment it all felt so real. All I wanted was for that one moment to affirm in my very young mind that there was a magical place. I stopped watching for that moment on Sunday nights as I grew older having lost that sense of wonder as my mind developed and my world enlarged. After all, it was just make believe and grownups don’t believe in such nonsense. It was not until forty plus years later that I had the opportunity to recapture this moment of glory in person.
In the preparation of today’s sermon, this bit of my personal history came back to me. This moment on Sunday nights when I was given the opportunity to observe the illumination of the ordinary; not unlike what our disciples experienced today.
During a conversation this past Epiphany season with a pastor friend we discussed “favorite” Gospel texts on which to preach. After a season of the ‘Sermon on the Mount” instructions I commented that I was looking forward to the glory of Transfiguration Sunday; the text which allows us a glimpse of Jesus in his original form, holy, pure and revered as the Son of God and the disciples in their “beginning”, their transformation. In this text the itinerant preacher named Yeshua in the Aramaic tongue of the day or Jesus as we know him is illuminated, transfigured from an ordinary state to the “Beloved” the Son of the Most High God. In a flash Peter, James and John are given a mountain top experience then, in a flash it is over. Briefly they are allowed the privilege of seeing what a “transformed” life looks like. They are momentarily illuminated themselves with the knowledge of who they follow; the one who called them from their nets at the Sea of Galilee a few short years before. In a moment in time on a mountain top they see the Son of God and they too as ordinary men are transformed. What they DO with this illumination is the real issue as disciples.
Despite the brevity of this illumination, this vision that is all informing, the disciples believe that it is real. It is this moment in time that propels them to share with others NOT this particular event but rather what this event did to renew the belief in the one with whom they stood on that mountain top, namely the Beloved Son of the One to whom they were called to LISTEN! Because of this moment they are encouraged as ordinary disciples to witness to other followers illuminating for them the Gospel message of the Beloved Son of God. Peter, James and John were ordinary men who had their own transformation on a mountain top and thus a part in the continuation of the ministry and message of the followers of the Word.
Martha Grace Reese in her book Unbinding the Gospel shares insight from interviews with two thousand people and in short learns this: people come to Jesus through the words, the teaching, the sharing of other Christians and their “mountain top “moments which transfigured, transformed them. Our ability to be ordinary disciples like Peter, James and John and the sharing of our faith in Jesus Christ is what draws others into the illuminating yet ordinary experiences of the church. Our words, our stories, His Gospel of salvation bring light to the dark places in our beings. We like Peter, James and John seek moments of illumination in prayer, service , worship, and study. We as Christians have the illuminating, transformative story to tell of the Beloved Son of God; his life, his love, his death , his resurrection for all humankind. The transformation of the heart of others is, to a great part dependent on our ability and desire to share our faith with those who wait and wonder amidst the difficulties of life without hope.
At the age of fifty my daughter and I traveled to the mountain top of my youth….we went to Disney world. One night we stayed in the magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks. Suddenly I saw it…the flash when the ordinary was illuminated and Cinderella’s castle is covered by the lights of a myriad of fireworks and I literally gasped. What briefly went through my mind were these words, “It’s real!” The depth of this momentary excitement can hardly be articulated yet I found myself wanting to share it with anyone who asked me, “How was your vacation?” Their kind nods and blank stares told me they were only politely interested. Of course, not being an evangelist for the Disney Corporation I let it all drop over time.
I wonder….I can’t HELP but wonder, do we have ordinary experiences in church which are so illuminating to us that our desire to share the mystery and miracle of God is right on the tips of our lips? Are we afraid to share the illumination we feel at this table, at the font, in the forgiveness of our sins, in our worship and our songs? Do we sense the reality of these mountain top experiences and yet keep them to ourselves?
This Lenten season is filled with “ordinary” services which have been planned to be illuminating. I cannot wait to teach and preach the messages of the season to waiting ears. I cannot wait to have others be like Peter, James and John in their sharing of the stories of the Gospel. I cannot not wait to be illumined with the ordinary on Easter morning and gasp in delight as did the disciples because ….it IS real!
How about you and others who you are called to invite to this miracle filled season?