buy Lyrica online usa The Sunday Sermon – February 7, 2016
Listen to Him
The Sunday before our Lenten journey begins. The hinge between what has been and what might be. Transfiguration Sunday. What in the world … ?
Let’s read the scripture lesson: Luke 9:28-36 … The Word of the Lord.
What in the world? Here it sits, a kind of “misplaced resurrection narrative,” as some have called it. With this “divine proclamation” from the clouds above, eerily like the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism. There are narratives in Mark and Matthew, as well, but here it sits in the Gospel of Luke as a “hinge” in Jesus’ own life. He is turning his gaze toward Jerusalem. On this Sunday before Ash Wednesday, before our Lenten journey begins (again), we are setting our eyes on Jerusalem, too. But how is this passage, this story, this “fantastic” narrative fit in? How is this “transfiguration” relevant to us? What does this passage mean as we seek to cooperate with God’s will of love, and peace, and wholeness? What does the transfiguration event mean to those who seek to embody the kingdom of God here and now?
Pray with me …
Here’s the historical reality of this piece of scripture: Luke’s community, the men and women, young and old, for whom he wrote, are realizing that the “resurrection of all the dead,” the beginning of which was supposed to have begun with Jesus’ own resurrection, this resurrection was not going to come as speedily as they had once thought and hoped. It’s two, almost three, generations after the first experiences of the Risen Christ – long enough for the oral traditions, the stories that were being passed on and shared by word of mouth, to become written ones. Two, almost three generations. Think about that.
How many of you remember the stories that your great-grandparents told? If you do at all, it’s most likely from the way your grandparents, or parents, re-told them. Now imagine that these stories didn’t actually include your great-grandparents, but were stories about something they heard that others had experienced in the church where they belonged, the church you’re still a part of, but that keeps getting further and further away from the historical life that gave it its vitality and its passionate mission. You get the idea. Luke’s community is struggling to come to terms with “the church” as a group of people, increasingly an institution, of the future, as well as of the past. They are at a “hinge” moment. How are they supposed to find effective ways to put into words the “faith of their forbearers?” Well, to begin with, there’s this narrative, this story, this description.
The Transfiguration bears witness to the identity of Jesus the Christ and to the community that gathers in his name – past, present, and future. Jesus is declared – again – to be the Chosen Son of God. The disciples in the story, and the listeners in the early church, hear the declaration again: “Listen to him!” The Christ event – Jesus’ incarnation, passion, death, resurrrection, ascension, gift of the Holy Spirit, and promise second coming – the Christ event in Jesus of Nazareth is the defining script for all the “local performances of the gospel,” that is, the church. Through Jesus, the Transfiguration bears witness to the identity of the church of Christ, and of every single man, woman, and child that claim to be members of that church.
As we prepare to follow Jesus again on our Lenten journey, we must be clear about our own “Christological identity.” Who are we because of Jesus Christ? We know our lives are shaped by secular forces – capitalism, consumerism, militarism, and more; by social, cultural, and economic pressures we aren’t even consciously aware of! But we are called to “Listen to Him!” in this springboard into Lent.
Put away your wallet. Set aside your “stuff.” Put down your weapons of destruction and listen. Stop trying to purchase your happiness or the pleasures of other. Stop filling the gaps in your life with more gizmos and gadgets, or trinkets and toys. Stop insisting that the only way to have peace is through victories over others, global or personal, and listen … to Him. Listen …
What do you hear? I’m serious now: Close your eyes and open your hearts. We’re on the mountaintop with Jesus. What do you see? What do you hear? That’s the truth, what you’re hearing right now, what you’re feeling right now. Quickly now, it’s slipping away, but that’s the truth you feel … drowned out almost twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week by all the other voices we listen to, by all the other forces we allow to define us, but all the fears we allow to rule us. But this morning we touch the Holy, if only for a moment, and are transfigured, too.
As fleeting as the mountaintop experience of “Transfiguration” was for Peter, James, and John, they did experience it. As fleeting as it is for us, we are here … now. And as imperfect as the disciples of Jesus remained even after this experience (just read on in Luke), perhaps because of our presence together in the presence of God here this morning, we may be just a bit more prepared for the transfiguration experiences in our lives, until our whole lives are like Christ’s. When, even in the face of suffering, rejection, and death, we, too, will remain resolute in fulfilling our mission – the Kingdom of God on Earth, as it is in heaven.
We are called by Christ to transfigure not just ourselves, but the world we live in and to bring the love of God to the places and situations most in need of hope and joy and peace. Where are those places and situations? Perhaps that is what our Lenten journey this year is for: To find them. To find those places in our world and in our lives most in need of hope, and joy, and peace, and love, and to transfigure them, to bring the love of God to life.
As we gather at this table to begin (again) … may it be so. Amen.
Reverend Joel Weible, Pastor / Pewee Valley Presbyterian Church / February 7, 2016