We cancelled church today due to freezing rain and icy conditions, but I still want to preach my sermon (even if it was only to Highlander and Valkyrie).
We have been in the Time after Epiphany.
It begun with Jesus’ baptism. The heavens opened with Christ hearing “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased”. This marked the beginning of Christ’s public ministry.
We conclude it with the Transfiguration of Christ. This turns his ministry from a public ministry to his journey to the cross, which is a perfect lead into Lent.
Let us explore where we have been.
During this Time after Epiphany, we have had Jesus’ public ministry which included the calling of his disciples into a new vocation and into a deeper relationship with Christ, with God, and with neighbor. We are called to reflection on this vocation and relationship during Lent.
We have witnessed people healed from illness and demons, in order to become more fully who God has called them to be. They are freed from whatever is holding them back from the love and service of God and neighbor.
The Transfiguration of Christ is different. It is a miracle done TO Christ and not by Christ.
Christ and three of his closest disciples (Peter, James, and John) go on a mountain top. Suddenly, Christ is transfigured. He is changed. He becomes shining bright with light and dazzling white. Then, Moses and Elijah appear talking with him.
Peter, James, and John are terrified. They are tongue-tied not knowing what to say or do. Peter says “let us build three tabernacles (or tents, dwellings, altars) here to honor (worship) the three of you and this moment”. Then, a voice comes from the clouds and says “This is my Son, the beloved. Listen to him”.
Although it may seem to be a strange first reaction to build altars for worship, this is exactly what we do.
Richard Rohr, a theologian, wrote these words. I shared these on Facebook awhile ago but was reminded of them this week.
“We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path.
We made Jesus into a mere religion
instead of a journey towards union with God and everything else.
This shift make us into a religion of “belonging and believing”
instead of a religion of transformation.”
We, like the disciples, get caught up in the honoring, adoration, and worship of Christ as God in human flesh. We get distracted from following the example and journey that Christ leads us on.
Our epiphanies of who God is and God’s action in our world through flesh and bone as Christ is meant to lead us into those changes, into transformation, into our vocations, into deeper relationships, into the love and service of God and neighbor.
We are called to be transformed, changed, transfigured by that journey.
This week, I also had a conversation on Facebook with another clergyperson. I had shared a cartoon with a person and a dark figure sitting together with a small envelope that read “Invite your demon for a slice of cake and a cup of tea”. As I thought about my sermon a couple of weeks ago, I shared with the comment “Invite your demons for cake and tea….cuddle with them. We all do, although we should confront them”.
My friend implied that we were taught to be nice, then wrote
“besides it is much more fun to confront other people’s demons (preferably in full array with pitchforks and torches).”
“We may have a different definition of “fun”. I would much rather confront my own becoming more fully who God has called me to be than causing drama by attacking others and their demons”.
“Yes, but that is because you have grown in grace and been transfigured by Christ (now if there was only a church festival where we could teach and preach about what that transfiguration actually means)”.
Yes, he was fully aware that this Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday.
Transfiguration is not easy, but Lent is a journey to help us reflect and bring us deeper into that transfiguration, that transformation, that change which we have all be called to engage.
My hope and prayer is that this week and as we look forward to Lent, we take time to reflect on the epiphanies, our call into vocation, our call into deeper relationship, and our freedom from all that seeks to hold us back in order that we may be changed, transformed, transfigured as we have been called to be. Amen.