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Sermon for May 1, 2022

Sermon for May 1, 2022        Third of Easter            “The Place Jesus Interrupts Us”

The number of sermons that have been and will be preached on the texts for Acts and John are more numerous than the stars in the heavens or the sand on all the beaches and deserts. The conversion of Saul to Paul in Acts and the shared breakfast on the sea shore in John are profound insights into the heart of God and Jesus.

Saul was on a mission to gather up and bring to justice, Roman justice followers of Jesus. Along the way he encounters Jesus, becomes blind and is led to Damascus. There he is entirely dependent on others. The part of the story that moves me these days is Ananias. He is a disciple and hears God’s voice directing him to go minister to Saul. Of all the people he was called on to minister to, Saul was not one of them. All the followers hated Saul and worked hard to avoid him, now Ananias was being asked to go and minister to him! It is a tribute to his dedication and commitment to Jesus that he listened, heeded and went to Saul. Laying his hands on him, he was healed and became a tireless disciple and follower of Jesus and his teachings.

The Gospel teaching is of some of the disciples fishing, they see Jesus on shore and head toward him. Peter, is frustrated with the slow progress so leaps from the boat and swims. When they all arrive, Jesus asks how the fishing was? Not so good came the reply. Cast your net on the other side. After doing so the nets are full. Then breakfast is prepared and teaching continues.

In these texts are years of sermons. For today I remind myself that Jesus meets us on the roads we travel, at our places of work or leisure, and there disrupts our lives, or maybe it is a nudge away from complacency and routine.

Paul needs some blindness to be able to see, Ananias needs to get over his well held prejudices to minister to Saul/Paul. The disciples do not seem so amazed at a net full of fish and are reminded that they are to offer food to others not force feed people. And for us it is a reminder that we offer ourselves, our work, our presence, our gifts to others, and the hardest part of all…make space for God to enter, allow the Spirit to fill the spaces that we are tempted to force feed.

In our 21st century need to get it all, all at once, to multi task our way to something less than even mediocre and to believe if I work harder, longer that success will happen (whatever that is). We forget that God is here. So instead of a gentle nudge there is a full on road block that stops us and after the flash of anger, there is the realization that we were in imminent danger to ourselves and others.

Where are the places and times when God has stopped you, changed your path or your mind? We are in many ways like the first followers of Jesus who needed constant reminders to change our mindset or our way of being. Jesus did not interrupt the lives of the first followers so they could have a three year break and travel around doing cool stuff and they going back to the way it was. Jesus interrupted their lives forever, they were not going back to the way it was before. The revolution of changing hearts for good, was beginning and with resurrection was set on a path that would last for generations, to our day and beyond.

The interruptions were not intended for us to be in an even bigger rush once we were around them. They are intended to get our attention and then set us on a new path. Where to now? Jesus has a plan, you are part of that plan, and much to the chagrin of the GPS genie, it is for us a leap of faith. Did you notice that the disciples were not surprised at the nets full of fish?

Sermon for April 24, 2022

Sermon for April 24, 2022      Second of Easter                    “It is good to ask questions”

There was a delightful cartoon posted to a clergy site I go to from time to time. The scene is some of the disciples sitting in a circle and one is ranting that Jesus is dead and that dead is dead. Then there is a pause..and the text continues…he’s standing behind me isn’t he? It is good to ask questions just ask Mattea Roach. Or in the opening of the Divinci Code Dr. Langdon says “a picture tells a thousand words but which words”, the right questions make all the difference.

Resurrection was and continues to be one of the great challenges to our fact driven culture. It does not make intuitive sense, it goes against all we know of the cycle of life, and yet we believe with all our heart and every fiber of our being that Jesus lived, Jesus died, Jesus lives again and forever. It is why it is called the mystery of faith and that mystery manages to sustain us in spite of its illogical nature.

Thomas, who was not present when Jesus appeared the first time and who some challenges believing the other disciples is our hero for today. He was brave enough to ask questions that lead to belief. And we continue to ask questions. And we have all sorts of questions: the biggest may be why does God allow bad things to happen? The challenge is that question can apply equally within and outside the church. Perhaps the first one I might ask is why did God allow the church to be taken over by politicians? This grassroots revolution Jesus started was about a new way of being and seeing, ourselves, others and creation. And yet from the time of Constantine Christianity has been a political tool to oppress. And it still happens and you need look in Plaster Rock or the American south to discover the ugly side of Christianity.

Why did the Crusades happen? Why have women been denied status? Why do we plunder creation? Why do wars happen? Why do children die? Why can’t I win the lottery? And on and on it goes as we struggle to fit God into our own image of who and what God should be.

It is good to ask questions and these are good ones but not the ones I am going to tackle today. Maybe someday with a coffee or tea.

The question I would like to explore is: is the resurrection of Jesus about my external life or my internal life? Jesus never said follow me and I will make you rich, popular, skinny, smart, successful and so on. And yet we have, over the centuries shifted the message to mean just that. What Jesus said was more likely to say is: follow me and you will continually give to the poor and needy, follow me and you will be wise stewards of creation, follow me and you will likely be last and least, follow me and you embrace meekness, kindness, mercy, a thirst for righteousness, pureness of heart, a peacemaker and one who is ridiculed.

The resurrection of Jesus is not to anoint rulers and rules that pit one against another, it was not about one gender or race or colour being better than the other. Resurrection is a wide open invitation to cultivate the inner landscape of your own life with the tools of justice, equality, genuineness and meekness. And from that place be a citizen in your community and world.

The kingdom, kin-dom, realm of God is not about conservative, NDP, liberal, republican, democrat, sultan or Czar, they are human constructs and will come to an end. The realm of God is beyond where we are now or as Jesus said ‘not of this world’ and it is to that realm that resurrection invites you. Our task is about tending our own inner selves so that can spill into our outer selves.

Maybe like the comic I referred to at the beginning says, before we start asking why gender or First Nations apology or climate change or my church is better than yours…we might be well served to pause and say…Jesus is standing behind me isn’t he?

Sermon for April 17, 2022 Easter

Sermon for April 17, 2022 Easter “Teacher”
Prepared with the spices and ointments to prepare the body of Jesus for burial, Mary made her way to the tomb. This was not going to be a good day, for the powers of Empire killed her friend. She was still angry that no one came to his aide, not even the disciples. It broke her heart that it was a few women, close to Jesus, that now were responsible to this task. And yet she would and they would because they loved Jesus.
From the conversation of concern with a ‘gardener’ to the shocked realization that this supposed gardener is Jesus, Mary’s heart and mind must have been in a tsunami of emotions. Of all the things that Mary could have said, what is recorded is ‘Teacher’. You will never convince me that Mary kept a stiff upper lip, or was pan-faced or stoic when Rabbouni crossed her lips. Rather it was uttered with the joy filled, and unexpected shock of seeing her dear friend alive. Imagine here if you will (with no apologies for the comparison) a Jewish mama who had no filters when it came to public displays of emotion. I can hear the shrieks of delight, the gasps, the hands to face and heart and most of all the impulse to grab Jesus into a vise like hug. And I expect it was all Jesus could do to persuade her from this hug.
This scene is I hope, more prolonged than scripture gives it credit, but after some time Jesus asks her to go and tell the others. The others heard the shriek that pierced the locked windows and doors and by the time Mary arrived there the others were unlocking the doors to go and see if she was alright.
I have seen the Lord…He is alive.
These word reverberate through the centuries even to our ears. Jesus is alive is not a subdued comment, it is not an ‘Oh and by the way’ sort of notation. These are the words that state in no uncertain terms that God and Jesus silence Empire, give voice to our silence and confound the skeptics.
All of a sudden we know what Jesus means when he says ‘the stones will shout’, and all creations shouts glory and hallelujah so that all will hear.
And we gather here, we gather where you are, bound by the glory of Spirit to celebrate this feast. I can assure you it is not a feast of sacrifice, it is a feast of love, a feast that gathers us together and a feast that sends us forth. No longer are we silent and ashamed for we have in us the love of God that transforms us and through us our neighbour.
And Jesus says: ‘go and tell others’.

Sermon for April 10, 2022

Sermon for April 10, 2022      Palm Sunday              “Not what I Expected”

Living with Jesus for the past three years, the first followers knew to expect the unexpected. The past few weeks where filled with surprises and the disciples where having a hard time keeping up. A lifetime of learning and knowing about life, people, temple, government, healing and God were being unraveled and the re-knitting was slow.

Lepers are healed, the kin-dom of God will come in God’s time, teaching about justice, job and ego, children, being rich, self-ego, Jesus and his death, Zacchaeus the tax collector believes, investing others money just to touch the highlights. All these teachings were new, difficult to comprehend and at the same time so, so life giving.

It would be a huge leap to think the disciples had a complete re-orientation of life values and social norms. They slid into family/neighbourhood of origin mindset on a regular basis. And we should not be so surprised that they did.

Palm Sunday or the parade of palms is a good example. The religious belief held that the Messiah would come as a mighty warrior who would overthrow the Empire, and not just overthrow but crush into the ground. Song of Hannah in Isaiah states: “The Lord shall shatter the adversaries who arose to do evil to His people; He shall blast them with a loud noise issuing from heaven. The Lord shall exact punishment from [the proverbial northern enemy] Gog and from the marauding armies of the nations who come with him from the ends of the earth. He shall give strength to His king and shall make great the kingdom of His Messiah.”

The Neofiti targum (a contemporary document to Isaiah) is even more explicit about messianic violence: “How beautiful is king Messiah who is to arise from among those of the house of Judah. He girds his loins and goes forth to battle against those that hate him; and he kills kings and rulers, and makes the mountains red from the blood of their slain and makes the valleys white from the fat of their warriors. His garments are rolled in blood; he is like a presser of grapes.”

Then the Chosen people would rise up and truly and fully occupy and thrive in the land flowing with milk and honey.

And here the Messiah is to ride into Jerusalem, the seat of power of Empire and all the teaching of a new way, love your enemy, be kind and just, forgive and heal are overshadowed by the learned image of a Messiah who would crush the enemy.

A donkey, you want to charge the Empire on a donkey…are you nuts. And Jesus smiles and reminds the disciples that he is about a new way of being, a new way of understanding God, a new way of loving. From a critic’s point of view, this would have been voted the worst float in the parade, the worst float in any parade ever. But there was something, a spirit moving that day that spilled into all the days since.

Here we are a fifth of the way through the 21st century. Christianity is a global movement with all sorts of colour and hue. On our worst days each claiming to be the only true way and on our best an openness to the variety of Christian expressions. On Palm Sunday we each, and each denomination brings its baggage about how Jesus will or should change the world. My suspicion is that each would be surprised at what Jesus would do. Living beyond our well entrenched ideas of ‘what should be’ to what is Jesus calling us to or who is Jesus calling us to be will fall firmly into the category of ‘I was not expecting that’.

I have a feeling that if Christianity or the Christian movement going forward does not fall into the unexpected category of ‘you are going to change the world/hearts on a donkey…are you nuts?’ then maybe just maybe we have some re-imagining in our future. For the teaching of Palm Sunday and Holy Week to be life giving into the rest of century and beyond then we will have to get used to expecting different.

Sermon for April 3, 2022

Sermon for April 3, 2022        Fifth of Lent                 “Leaps of Faith”

Have you ever spontaneously received a wonderful gift? Have you ever given one equally spontaneously? Each are met with the paradox of; I love it, you should not have or I saw this and thought of you.

In the Gospel teaching from John today we hear the story of Jesus visiting his good friends Lazarus, Mary and Martha. There is good food and lively conversation as is common when friends meet. Scholars are not sure why Mary took the expensive Nard perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet, maybe it was just a feeling, women’s intuition, a gift for her friend, but she did. She took the time to anoint his feet, to rub the expensive oil on his well-worn feet and she knew in her heart that she was doing a good thing.

For Mary, it was a leap of faith, a following of the inner voice, that spirit voice that moved her to act. Her logical brain knew this act would be frowned upon, she was supposed to be in the kitchen, she was supposed to be serving, she was supposed to be doing so many other tasks… but the one she chose was to anoint the feet of her friend. A public display of affection that would result in stares, ridicule and most likely punishment.

As we look at the context from a wider angle perspective we discover that the gift was also an expression of gratitude, deep gratitude. In john 11 we read the story of Lazarus’ death and Jesus raising him from death. So the question might be ‘how do you adequately or ever thank someone for that?’.

Biblical scholar William Carter writes; “Curiously, Jesus does not take issue with the temporary nature of the gift. He declares it is appropriate in that moment, particularly in light of his impending death. He is gracious enough to receive it with gratitude. Lots of extravagant gifts are put into the air, where they soon evaporate. A church choir labours to prepare an intricate anthem, and three minutes later it is gone. The teacher prepares the lesson, stands to deliver, and then class is adjourned. Mourners provide large arrangements of flowers to honour those whom they grieve. Saints donate large sums of money for their congregations to spend. Why do they do this? Love has its reasons. To reflect on the miracle of generosity will lead us to reflect on Jesus…Jesus is the one through whom everything was made. There is abundance wherever he is present.”

The how, why and when we respond to Jesus is for each of us to determine. Let us remember that for us, as for Jesus faith is a journey. If we only hop from miracle to miracle, healing to healing we develop an incomplete view of Jesus. For we miss that hard parts in-between. We miss the pointed fingers and disgust of others when Jesus spoke to a widow, touched a leper, ate with sinners, lost his temper in the courtyard of the temple or walked dusty miles to be with a friend.

What we do know is that Jesus came to the world, no one invited him and few understood him and yet he changed the world one heart at a time. We may not always want Jesus in our lives because he calls us to a higher standard of care for others, self and creation. And that often places us at odds with most everyone else. But Jesus is here, waiting for that gentle invitation or the scream of agony to enter. And he does. It may not be as we envisioned or even hoped but Jesus is here and we are different because of him.

How do we know Jesus is here? The answer is broad and wide and as diverse as people. It is the simple wonder and acceptance when a child asks; does God love me? And the parent answers yes, and the child smiles and says OK and returns to play. It may be the careful testing, measuring, double blind test and the accumulation of empirical data. It may be that God just became a common house guest and part of the family. It may be the agonizing cries from the rock-bottom place. That Jesus is here… is always, in some regard a leap of faith. A completely explainable/unexplainable presence.

The teaching of Mary’s anointing Jesus feet, provide a wide look at responses to Jesus presence. Mary’s public anointing, the raised eyebrows of the disciples and the scorn of Judas. For the disciples this was a turning point on the journey to Jerusalem. For us it is a gentle teaching that when it comes to Jesus, extravagance and going against the accepted norms is acceptable, even preferred. And here is a note to self and to you: it is always dangerous.

We live our lives in the shadow of the cross, but we also live in the presence of the risen Christ. So here is an invitation to daily companionship with Jesus in extravagant acts of compassion and generosity, in worship and in life. All this in a world which lives by a mind-set of scarcity, rather than a mind-set of abundance, and so temps us to close in and give little. And we wonder why leaps of faith are scarce and the world is becoming crueler and more violent. As we journey toward Palm Sunday and Holy Week, we are heading into one of the most violent weeks in the life of Jesus…and still faith and love rule the day.

Sermon for March 20, 2022

Sermon for March 20, 2022               Lent 3                          “Being the Gardener”

Rodney Clapp in his commentary on the Luke text writes; “Self-righteous anger. If emotions were cuisine, this would be the piece de resistance, the dish we love to linger over and return to, time and time again. Anger by itself does not taste so good. It is bitter and leaves an aftertaste. On the other hand, self-righteousness there is the seasoning that makes plain old hamburger anger irresistible. Self-righteous anger goes down smoothly. It makes us feel superior. It elevates us above lesser mortals, not to mention our enemies. So long as we have it on our plates, the confusing grayness of the wearisome world goes away. It is bracingly, refreshingly clear that we are the good ones and those others are the bad ones. If all these were not enough, self-righteous anger also reheats wonderfully and tastes just fine the next day and the next.”

In this teaching we realize that the owner is not the gardener. We also come to the humbling realization that the sin of others is not greater than mine. We so often diminish our sin or what we have to own as ours, and inflate the sin of others for all sorts of reasons. Mostly so that we can cling to self-righteousness. What we can know with certainty is that forgiveness is from God and we are not consultants or advisors to God. To know we all live with the capacity for good and ill, and we all live under the grace of God’s forgiveness calls us to responsibility and to awe.

The teaching calls us to be gardeners not only of our personal live but also our corporate lives. We live today on the foundational pieces of our ancestors. For St. Marks it was from the first gathering in homes and a barn, to the vision of a place a worship and over the years many places of worship. The result being where we are today.

I have heard it said that the best time to plant a shade tree is thirty years ago, the next best time is today. We live in the shade of the faithfulness of those who planted before us, and we are thankful.

We live today, being called to tend a garden that is different in texture and context than our ancestors. We had big dreams a few years ago and COVID forced us into a fallow time. I time of anxious and even nervous waiting. Like the owner of the field we want to see results now and being patient with the way gardens grow is difficult.

Yet we are beginning to be able to till the soil, dust off plans and ideas, see if they are still relevant or if they have gone past their best before date. We are called to the work of tending to all that we were forced to let sit and tend to the new and emerging.

One of the great acts of faith (for most of us) is planting a shade tree. We will enjoy its growth but the shade it will offer will be for the next generations. Our work and witness today is an expression of our faith and the faith that God will guide the church in directions that we cannot imagine but faithfully prepare the soil for today.

Being angry that it is not happening fast enough or pointing fingers that divert blame serve no useful purpose. Called to be gardeners of our lives, the life of St. Marks, of our community, country and world will require our patience, toil and faith. And once the seed is in the ground we practice that oh so difficult task of trusting God.

As we turn to our annual meeting we will celebrate what has been accomplished this past year, we will give thanks to the many who worked and prayed for the mission of Jesus and we will give thanks to the saints whose lives continue with God. And we will humbly accept the call to Jesus to continue the task of being faithful gardeners and tenders of the people of God.

Sermon for March 13, 2022

Sermon for March 13, 2022               Lent Two         “Is the welcome for Jesus?”

The teaching of Jesus for today as recorded in Luke is delightfully filled with a many hued palette of layers. Some are obvious some not so much so. It is one of those teachings that each time we read, we discover a new insight. Unlike Matthew who places this story near the end of Jesus teaching, Luke places it near the beginning. A glimpse if you will of the daily challenges Jesus will have with the leadership of the Empire and the Church. Of the concern Jesus has for the people, not just the people of Jerusalem but all people. And the image of a new way of being with God, prophesied.

We know that Herod was a ruthless leader who had little regard for people or for anything that got in the way of his ego. The Pharisees walked a fine line between holding the line on Jewish law and practice and not wanting to upset Roman rule, especially Herod’s rule. They did not like the growing support of Jesus as he constantly made them look like fools. They also knew that Herod would see Jesus as a Jewish trouble maker and by default look bad for the Synagogue. So they came to Jesus to warn him about Herod. Jesus could see their self-interest and their split allegiance so sent them back to Herod with a message that God’s plan would not be stopped.

Jesus also recognized that the people of Jerusalem were caught in the middle of ego battles and power battles that they had no control over and yet they significantly affected their daily life. And Jesus just wanted to somehow protect them.

This story can easily be placed into our context today. COVID protocols have been in place and it has been an exercise in flexibility to keep up to the changes, growing extremist movements as witnessed at borders, cities and towns, the war on Ukraine and humanitarian crises growing there and in many parts of the world, the price of gas, food and well everything, and the growing anxiety about life as we know it. Jesus is aware of all that is happening, the true intent of leaders, the wondering of church folk and our growing uneasiness about the future.

And we hear “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” The church, founded on the teachings Jesus, has been consistent and perhaps the only constant in these years. And yes I know technology has made being present difficult for some, there are many who continue to seek solace, peace and purpose in empire and principalities. And it is not working out so well.

The invitation of Jesus to follow is founded on one main and constant guiding marker: to love others. If what a church professes or its members profess does not meet this one command, then a re-evaluation of itself is in order. It does not mean that the love of God or Jesus is withheld from anyone…it means the beliefs and actions of churches must this one benchmark.

Jesus is extending the invitation to come under his love and care. It is an invitation…we have to respond. And in these days and this time of being, cared for and protected is desperately needed.

So I am going to do something you almost never hear preachers say…

Close your eyes          take three deep breaths          be still              and know        Jesus’ love

Feel the embrace of Jesus surrounding our anxious minds and beating hearts

Feel the warmth of the comforting warmth of Jesus

Breath             Three more breaths

From now on every time you are too immersed in too CBC or CTV or CNN 24-hour news channels, turn them off        close your eyes           breath              and know the embrace of Jesus.

Then we can re-engage in the world with love and kindness and be the followers of Jesus.

Sermon for March 6, 2022

Sermon for March 6, 2022 Lent One “If you are…”
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” This teaching from Luke happens immediately after the baptism of Jesus and at the beginning of his ministry. And we may wonder why this reading finds its way into our Lenten readings that lead us in the ending days and weeks of Jesus ministry.
Biblical scholar Sharon Ringe reminds us that the love of God for Jesus is as powerful at the beginning of his ministry as it is at the end. It is also the very same temptations that the followers of Jesus will face in the first century and the twenty-first century and beyond. Since there are no witnesses to this event we are given a peek into the theological mindset of Luke which is the constant interplay of love and possibility between God, Spirit, Jesus and the community.
It is also a reminder that Lent is an intentional time of preparation and a time of spiritual deepening in our practices related to our faith and the decisions we make every day of life. Our human default position is to take the path of least resistance, we, for the most part just can’t help it. But once on the path what looked like a leisurely walk became increasingly difficult.
There is a wonderful collection of guide books in NB on hiking trails, biking routes and waterfalls. They each give a degree of difficulty. How often do we look at these guides and ponder ‘it really can’t be that difficult’ and we start off to find out that we, go figure, were wrong? It is wise to note that these books were written by seasoned hikers and heeding the information is a good idea. When we drive there are signs to help us all be safe, at school, at the pool, at the gym, at the stores there are signs that aid us along the way.
Jesus was led into the wilderness, there was no guide, no map of where the hazards are and no one who had been there before. Just be in the desert as preparation time. The volumes written on this text are numerous and varied and would take speed reader years to get through them. And I’m so sure we would be any smarted at the end of it all.
This is our Lenten journey, it is not the same as Jesus 40 days in the wilderness, and my journey well look different than yours. What we are call to…is to start the journey and stick with it for 40 days. A practice that clears the collectables of our lives and leaves room for God and Jesus to speak and to lead.
For me one of my questions is; if I am Christian my response to what is happening will look and sound like…
I can assure you it is not always easy. How do I live in community that has been challenged by COVID in a way that is safe for me and others after March 14? I light of our beautiful and challenged past as settlers in Canada how do I live with those who were here? Can I pray for the people of the Ukraine and the people of Russia? Wilderness time, intentional wilderness time is to confront these questions, big and small, be tested and emerge with some degree of perspective on the inner truths that ground my responses.
The challenge is that coming face to face with these challenges come when we are least prepared. After 40 days Jesus must have been hungry so the temptation of food would be…well…tempting. And that leads to a post Easter peek. The practices of Lent are intended to be practices for life and for life. But more on that later.
Right now this day and for the duration of Lent what foundational pieces are you putting in place that will sustain you, this community of faith, the community of faith for the mission of Jesus in our world? Then we can live into the sneaky questions that begin with ‘so…you are a Christian, what about…’ and we can with assurance respond with a resounding yes to Jesus and a faithful yes to the truth that I am a follower and believer of Jesus. The path will be time of green pastures and still waters…and…times when fear grips our lives and intentions, and everything in-between.
The Jesus movement has thrived over these past 2000 years, changed, adapted, grown, changed some more and will continue to do so. That is, I believe because the answers of Jesus in the desert are modeled by all who follow…God’s will is being done, anew each day. No one generation can see the end, we are called to faithfully build and rebuild. As Christians, followers of Jesus the is the most and least we can do and be.

Sermon for February 27, 2022

Sermon for February 27, 2022 Transfiguration “Awesome”
It is true that there are some things that you just cannot un-see. Once seen and witnessed they are indelibly etched in your brain and memory.
The transfiguration for Peter, John and James was one of those moments. After they recovered from that awesome moment, they were able to speak of the events, I expect in ways that even words could not capture.
Jesus, Peter, James and John went up a mountain to pray, while praying ‘the appearance of Jesus face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus. They appeared in glory and spoke of his departure’. There they stood, this image blazed in their mind, mouth agape and unable to do anything but stare. As if that were not awesome enough a voice, not any voice but the voice of YHWH, of God saying ‘this is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him’. For some time, these disciples where awed to silence but not forever.
This event combined with all the other events in the life of Jesus leave us with no doubt that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, Immanuel and Saviour. For Luke this text come fairly early in the ministry of Jesus. He has healed, taught, cast out demons and has just fed the five thousand and predicted his suffering and death by the leaders. This is affirmation that all the work to date has been essential and now Jesus knows the full scope of his purpose. It also provides the energy and drive for the next years of his ministry and keeps front and centre the urgency of the teachings.
Perhaps that is why the teachings are filled with saying such as; if you have ears to hear the hear, or do you still not understand. The disciples may think there is all kinds of time but Jesus knows all too well that time is limited.
What comes next is our response to that truth.
In this brief encounter we learn three essential practices to being a follower of Jesus. Pray, reflect, act…repeat.
Oh, I can do that, no worries. These practices may be a part of your daily routine or they may be ‘as needed’ or anywhere in between. Jesus is not asking us to be perfect, he is calling us to follow these practices. To integrate them into our daily lives so that intentional connection with God and Jesus informs our thoughts and actions.
We may wonder if this sitting/walking/standing in prayer and meditation is actually doing anything. I expect Peter, James and John did not expect to be praying when Jesus took them to the top of the hill. I also do not expect they thought they would witness the event of the transfiguration. But that is the nature of being a follower of Jesus, you just never know what to expect. You just never know the gentle and persuasive power of your prayer. We all called to get past our 20/21st century notion that sitting still is doing nothing and re-introduce ourselves to the truth that prayer is something and does so much more that we can imagine.
One of the hurtles to cross is that like Peter, James and John we keep quiet because we imagine all sorts of reactions. On the way down the mountain I can hear the whispers; let’s just keep this to ourselves for now, let’s not give more to the notion that we really are a bit nuts. And they did not say anything.
We encounter Jesus in many ways: in our children, in nature, in our parents, in quiet moments, in times when all around us rages…and we keep silent.
We are in transformative times, our community and world is ready to hear, in the midst of the roar of competing voices, a voice that has the capacity to transfigure. And we, the witness of the awesome Jesus remains silent.
Our well-worn default is; I do not know what to say. Very much akin to Isaiah saying ‘I do not have the words’. For Isaiah an angel touched his lips with hot coal and the words came to him. Transfiguration is the hot coals for our lips and lives that push us from silence and secrecy to giving voice to truth that can transform the world. The only voices we are hearing is from the ‘honk, honk, me, me convoy, the attitude of ‘what’s all the fuss about black lives and indigenous lives’, invasion of the Ukraine and into the very midst of that, we are given the still small voice that when rooted in the love of Jesus will be heard in every ear and heart.
Into our days, we can no longer remain silent.

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