Sermon for March 3, 2019 Transfiguration “Hope for a Nation”
“Now about eight days after these sayings” can leave plenty to the imagination. But the 28th verse of Luke is referring to the feeding of the 5 thousand, Peter declaring that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus prediction of his death in Jerusalem. Perhaps that is why Luke refers back to these three critical teachings of Jesus. Then Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain to pray. There Jesus is transfigured as his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white, and to make this scene even more spectacular Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus.
Jeffery Tribble in his commentary on Luke offers this bit of insight: “Following Jesus, I believe that we must be clear about our identity, resolute in our mission and intentional in our spiritual formation. The transfiguration bears witness to the identity of Jesus Christ. By God’s action in the transformation itself and in the words of the Voice from heaven, a theological statement is made. Jesus Christ is declared to be the Chosen Son of God. The disciples heard the declaration: ’Listen to him!’ The Christ event- his incarnation, passion, death, resurrection. Ascension, gift of the Holy Spirit and promised second coming- is the defining script for our local performances of the gospel.”
Now about 2000 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus contemporary Christianity has managed to package Jesus in such a way that he is acceptable to all with minimal work or effort. It falls to us to take off the shiny wrapping, the ribbons and bows and get to the authentic Jesus. It may be comfortable to have Jesus on a mountain top hanging out with Moses and Elijah but the call of Jesus to follow can only be heard in our real, authentic heart. The living out that call will take us to places and introduce us to people we never imagined. It will also take us to faith and spiritual formation places that we never knew even existed. I would suggest that this aspect of transfiguration is most vital. Learning to be resolute in our faith and spiritual development must precede, be part of and the future of any Christian or church community.
We are in the midst of a strategic planning process to map out the way forward for the next few years. Without our determined, persistent and ardent prayers, this task will not flourish as we hope. Without any hesitation or doubt I am convinced in my conviction that we are called by Jesus to be the place of hope, learning, spiritual nurture and faithful mission in Saint John. That is crystal clear to me, as clear as Jesus in dazzling white on a mountain, as Jesus in a Manger, as Jesus healing, as Jesus on a cross, as Jesus resurrected and as Jesus alive in my and our heart.
For the word of God rumbles in our heart, mind, body and soul, “this is my beloved Son, Listen to Him”.