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Listen to Him

I want to pause, rewind, and briefly chart our journey since the Epiphany.

  • Jesus was baptized, publicly committing to God’s Will for the sake of the world.
  • Jesus invited persons to be his disciples, calling them from their previous lives into a new journey.
  • Jesus’ public ministry emphasized miracles, such as healings and exorcising demonic spirits.
  • Jesus leaves Capernaum after healing and exorcising many, but not all.

During Jesus’ baptism, he alone heard the voice of God from the heavens say:
“This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased”.

During the exorcisms, Jesus will not permit the demonic or unclean spirits to speak for they are aware of his divine identity as the Son of God.

This idea is the ‘Messianic Secret’ throughout the Gospel of Mark. The divine identity of Jesus is to remain hidden until the end.

After Jesus and the disciples leave Capernaum, their public ministry of healing and exorcising will continue throughout and beyond the region of Galilee. While the healed and exorcised are enabled, empowered, and emboldened to serve and minister to those whose disabilities, illness and disease, and even demons remain as their proclamation of Christ, their action of compassion and mercy, and their light of love.

The Transfiguration of Christ is another transitional narrative.

Jesus invites Peter, James, and John to accompany him on a hike up the mountain to pray.
Peter, James, and John are Jesus’ most intimate disciples among his inner-most circle.

Suddenly, Jesus is divinely transfigured (or changed) before their eyes.
Moses, the ancestor of faith who provided the Israelites with the Torah (the law or teaching), appears.
Elijah, the prophet who will return to usher in the Messiah, appears.
Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are in conversation with one another.

Peter, James, and John are awe-struck.
Peter, similar to humankind, is uncomfortable with silence. He suggests building three sacred tents.

Instead, the heavens open and the voice of God says:
“This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.”

Jesus, the demons, and the unclean spirits are no longer the only ones who know Jesus’ divine identity. And yet, Jesus will order Peter, James, and John to remain silent about his identity until the end.

Similar to Jesus and the disciples leaving Capernaum, the Transfiguration begins a new chapter. Jesus begins the journey to Jerusalem, where he will be arrested and crucified. Jesus shifts his emphasis from healing and exorcising demons to teaching the disciples and crowds, as though preparing us for his earthly departure.

And thus, I am intrigued by God instructing Peter, James, and John to listen to Jesus the Christ.

We, as humans, are not comfortable with silence and often anticipate said silence with a response. Thus, we listen to respond instead of listening to understand.

We often listen for keywords or phrases to hear whether one agrees or disagrees with us.
Thus, we can more quickly label said person as supporting or opposing us.
And yet, we are called to fully listen in order to understand.

We often listen for keywords or phrases that support our bias and pre-conceived notions.
Thus, we can more quickly dismiss the words and perceptions that do not support our own.
And yet, we are called to fully listen in order to understand.

  • The understanding we should seek can open our mind, hearts, and souls to new possibilities.
  • The understanding we should seek can blossom into new or even reconciled relationships.
  • The understanding we should seek can lead us on a journey of personal and spiritual growth.

And so, we are directed to fully listen to Jesus, the Son of God, the beloved.

  • In order that we may seek to understand the teachings of Jesus.
  • In order that we may seek to build relationships, whether in agreement or not.
  • In order that we may seek said journey of new possibilities and growth.

May we listen not to respond, but listen to understand our human siblings.

May we listen not to respond, but to proclaim Christ in thought, word, and deed more faithfully.

May we listen not to respond, but listen to be more aware of needed compassion and mercy.

May we listen not to respond, but listen to become a greater light of love for the sake of all creation.

May we listen not to respond, but listen to become a serving embodiment of Jesus the Christ.
Amen.

Scripture was Mark 9: 2-9.
Originally preached 14 February 2021 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, Indiana).

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2021 in Sermons

 

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Terrifying Silence: NASCAR edition

Let us pause and consider the Transfiguration within it’s scriptural context.

After Jesus’ infamous ‘Sermon on the Mount’, which intensified the law and declared himself as the fulfilment, he asks his inner-most circle of disciples ‘who do you say I am’.

Simeon Peter answers ‘the Christ, the Son of God’.
Thus, Peter is given the ‘keys’ to heaven and called the ‘rock upon which the church is built’.

Jesus continues sharing with these disciples his betrayal, arrest, passion, crucifixion, and death to come. Peter takes Jesus to the side and says ‘don’t talk like that’. Jesus rebukes Peter and continues to teach this sorrowful truth.

Jesus, Peter, James, and John are on the mountain top six days later.
Jesus is transfigured.
Jesus is with Moses and Elijah.
Jesus is truly the embodiment and fulfillment of the law AND the prophets.

Although the disciples have experienced the supernatural before, I imagine that Jesus literally glowing and standing with two deceased legends of Judaism would have been unusual, uncomfortable, and perhaps disconcerting. I envision the disciples stunned, standing in silence because Peter (who can be as dense as a rock) opens his mouth and inserts his foot again: “It is good for us to be here. We should…”

But, before Peter can finish, a disembodied voice attributed to God basically booms forth “Be Quiet. LISTEN.” The disciples fall to the ground terrified.

We, like Peter, can be as dense as rocks.
We, like the disciples, are not comfortable with silence.
We, like Peter, open our mouths and insert foot to fill the silence;
thus, we tend to listen to respond not to understand.

This silence can be terrifying.

Our discomfort with silence and simply how terrifying it can be became all too real on Monday evening for the NASCAR community.

But, lets rewind for a moment.

During the 2001 Daytona 500, the legend Dale Earnhardt Sr died in a crash on the final lap.

In 2002, we begun to watch NASCAR.

I choose the veteran Bill Elliott.

Amanda (my sister) choose the rookie Jimmie Johnson.

My mama choose South Bend raised, Purdue graduate, Hoosier, rookie…
Ryan Newman.

The 2020 Daytona 500 was on Monday evening.
It ended with a significant crash on the final lap, reminiscent of Dale Sr.

While seeking information from the broadcast and social media, I was yelling at the commentators who were simply fulfilling their vocation…. filling the silence. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Transfiguration: Mountain Top Places

Transfiguration: Mountain Top Places
Photo Credit: Chris Frailey
YouTube

I believe that we, humans, have landmarks that let us know when we have come home. Landmarks that begin the process of renewing and recharging our souls. For me, it is the Superstition Mountains in Arizona.

On a website, it said that these (Superstition Mountains) were the most photographed part of Arizona second to the Grand Canyon. They’re beautiful and they are appropriately named. There are many stories and experiences within the Superstitions that many would call paranormal, supernatural, mystical, or unexplained. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in Sermon Summaries

 

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