Archive for the ‘Transfiguration’ Category

Listen to him!

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

 

Sermon for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany
(Transfiguration)

Text: Matthew 17:5
While Jesus was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased—listen to him!” 

Listen to him!

Every now and then TV programs seek an answer to the question, “Is there life out there in space?”
Back in 2000 in a program called Universe it was stated that with the knowledge that scientists had available they hoped to be able to prove beyond any doubt by 2010 that there is life in space. Well, 2010 has come and gone and I don’t think we are much wiser about extra-terrestrial life.

But suppose for a minute that scientists did find that there is life out there in the universe.
How will that change our understanding of God as the creator of all things?
How will that change our view of God’s relationship with this world and us his special and unique people?

The first thing to note is that even though we continue to learn and discover new things about our world and the universe, none of this changes what we already know and believe about our unchangeable God and his love for you and me.

In fact, the more that we learn the more we realise we are only infants who have almost learned to crawl when it comes to understanding our world and the universe. The more that is discovered, the more questions are opened up and the more we realise that our universe is something that completely blows our mind.

The second thing that becomes clear is that you can’t find God looking through a microscope or a telescope. Neither can we find God on the golf course and in the most magnificent place on this earth – a place with a gentle waterfall, mossy banks, over-arching ferns and trees and the sound of the birds in the distance. It might be a place oozing with coolness, peace and serenity – a sharp contrast to traffic snarls, bickering children, blaring TV and our crazy pace of life. As godlike or as heavenly as we might think this place is, we can’t find God in the beauty of nature or the amazing discoveries of science.

The truth is this – unless we know God as he is revealed in the Bible, unless we know of his wonderful love and his creative power, and his determination to save all that is beautiful and wonderful in this world through the Word, we will not realise that there is an all-powerful, ever-loving, always-present, always-embracing creating and saving God behind all that is beautiful in this world. More than that, that he is even there in all that is ugly and horrible in our world. It is only when know God from the pages of the Bible that we can give him praise in all circumstances.

The third thing we realise is that we can scour the universe, have great knowledge and understanding, and still not know God. There is a lot more to our world and universe that what we can see, smell, hear and touch. In the end we have to admit that knowledge can take us so far until we come up against something so big we cannot fathom. It’s the point where reasoning stops, we say “wow” and faith takes over. We know from the Bible this “big thing” is God – the powerful, timeless, creative, intelligent, so big that nothing can contain him, and yet, so caring, personal, compassionate, and never-ending loving God.

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. What has all this got to do with Jesus’ transfiguration? We are told how Jesus’ appearance changed and his clothes became dazzling white and how he chatted with Moses and Elijah. Then there was the voice that spoke from a cloud, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased—listen to him!” 

Let’s look at it this way. We all need oxygen. With every breath of air, we take in the oxygen that our bodies need. Oxygen is also present in water, but we can’t use the oxygen in the water. It’s not available to us.

Like the oxygen in the water, God is there in nature, in science, but he’s not available to us there. If you want to know God don’t stare at a waterfall or a tree or a sunset. If you want to know God don’t look in amazement at a newborn baby, or look through a microscope or gaze into space through a telescope. As you look at all that is beautiful in our world, I can point you to just as much that is cruel, ugly, distorted and dangerous that will make you question whether there is a God.

If you want to really know God, gaze at the Word made flesh. God has made himself known to us in his Son. It is through his Son that God shows himself to us. In this man, Jesus, is the God of the universe, whom science cannot find but who is present here on earth as a human being and suffered everything we humans suffer. It is through God’s Son that we see what God is really like. We see the heart of God – his love, his compassion, his grace and forgiveness.

We hear the voice of God the Father coming from a cloud. The voice says, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased—listen to him!”  Jesus is God’s own Son. He is more than a man; he is God himself. He is “The Beloved”, a messianic title; he is the one who has been longed for over many centuries and whom Moses and Elijah had just honoured. This is the Messiah. He is God here on this earth.   This is as close as anyone can get to God in a physical sense. This is the divine standing right in front of the disciples and the voice from heaven commands, “Listen to him”.

It’s no wonder the disciples were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. They were so unholy; he was so holy.

We aren’t in the fortunate position of the disciples on the mount of transfiguration, where we can see the holiness of Jesus face to face in real life, but we can listen to him. During these past weeks we have come face to face with the divine as we have listened to Jesus speak to us through his the Sermon on the Mount. Right near the beginning, he says to his disciples, “You are the light of the world” and then proceeds to explain how this works in the everyday life of a follower of Christ.

Whether it’s seeking reconciliation instead of revenge,
loving your enemies,
praying for those who hate you,
giving to the needy without expecting a reward,
avoiding judging others,
making friends with those you don’t like,
he makes it quite plain that the values and principles of a Christian are very different to those of the rest of the world.

As followers of Christ we stand out and make a difference in our families or the community in which we live and to the world around us. It’s not a matter of going along with flow but it means letting the light of Christ shine through us and letting his love and mercy and peace rule the day.
It means holding back on the harsh words and letting love rule.
It means not getting back but seeking reconciliation.
It means praying for those who are giving you a hard time and avoiding bad mouthing those you don’t agree with;
forgiving those who hurt you;
and loving those who hate you.

“Listen to him”, the voice of the Father said from the cloud. This is God revealing his will for us. This is God speaking to us and showing us how to live the way he created us to be before sin messed things up. This is the way he recreated us to be when he called us into his family. Jesus said, “You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” or as another version puts it “Live out your God–created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you” (The Message) (Matt 5:48).

“But I can’t do this!” you might object. “I try but I mess things up all the time. I want to love those who don’t like me, but it’s so hard”.

“Listen to him”, the voice of the Father said from the cloud. Jesus is about to walk the road to Jerusalem for the last time. This is the road of suffering and death; the road of sin and shame; the road of tears and cries of grief and pain. The one who is called “The Beloved” is God who came to bring forgiveness to us
for our failure to live the new life;
for our failure to let the light of Christ shine through us;
for those moments when we aren’t any different to the world and our need for revenge, and pride, and speaking unkindly get the better of us.

“Listen to him” when he says,
“Your sins are forgiven”;
“you are my child, I will never give up on you”;
“when you are in the deepest despair, I am right there beside you”;
“when you think no-one else cares for you, you are my precious child”;
“when you are afraid and need to walk down dark paths, I will walk with you”.
“Listen to him”, the voice says. Listen to his words that he speaks to you directly and personally through the pages of the scriptures and through mouths of others.

We live in a marvellous world and an amazing universe but even greater than all the mysteries and wonders of creation is the one who made it all. God is all powerful and far beyond anything we can imagine in all our wildest dreams and yet he is a God who has come amongst us and has spoken to us. He has revealed himself to us through his beloved Son and shown to us how we can be his beloved children shining in our world.

After the voice had spoken the disciples looked around and saw no one except Jesus. When we listen to him we too will see no one but Jesus.
We will see his hand at work in creation.
We will see his hands with nails driven through them for us;
we will see hands raised in blessing over us;
we will see him in the joys and tears of life,
in fact, we will see him everywhere, for he fills the entire universe.
It is then that we will see him in the microscope and telescope, in the beauty of a flower and in an amazing sunset.

 

Pastor Vince Gerhardy

Listen to Him

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

Transfiguration                                                      

Luke 9:28-36

 

Dear heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit on us so we may listen to your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

StMarksWhen pastors are at Seminary/ Australian Lutheran College, they are taught to ask a number of questions which can be very helpful when looking at bible texts.

One question is: What’s the picture?

This question helps, because many people learn and work visually. We like to visualize something in order to fully understand it. Then, when we understand the picture, the Scriptures aren’t just words on a page, but become real scenes and real people who live and breathe and still talk to us even today. Once we understand the picture, and even put ourselves into the picture, we can more easily apply it to our own life.

For example: in regard to this text, it can be helpful to put ourselves into the shoes of the disciples, who saw Jesus start glowing (which we’ll come back to later), standing with two men, who were understood to be Moses and Elijah, who hadn’t been around for hundreds of years! On top of this, a cloud suddenly appears and a heavenly voice commands them to listen to Jesus because he’s God’s own Son.

Can you imagine what that would look like?

With this picture in mind – and if you’re a little familiar with God’s Word – you might also start seeing some things which are more than coincidences. These things were happening on a mountain, and other important revelations of God have also happened on mountains, such as Moses receiving God’s commands on Mount Sinai, and Elijah seeing the back of God on a mountain.

Hang on! These men are the same ones who have heard God speak previously on mountaintops! Maybe it’s more than a coincidence these particular men are here! They’ve received God’s commands and God’s prophetic Word, and right now they’re speaking with Jesus about his departure. Or do they in fact use another word? In the Greek, they call it his ‘exodus.’

Well, that reminds us of the great salvation event in the Old Testament where Moses leads God’s people out of the land of slavery to the point of entering the Promised Land – that land which was flowing with milk and honey. And here they talk to Jesus about his exodus. Is he going to lead people from slavery into a new land of perfection and peace?

These are just a few examples on how all these pictures start coming together to help us understand more deeply what’s going on.

Another question pastors are taught is: What’s unexpected here?

This is important because for many of us who have heard God’s word for many years, we don’t find God’s Word surprising anymore. We’ve heard it all before. Sometimes we even consider it boring! We’re tempted to switch off and think about something else.

So, it can help to ask ourselves what’s so surprising in our text, and we don’t have to go very far before we realize something was happening to Jesus which would have totally freaked us out!

I mean, when was the last time you saw someone’s face start glowing? And I’m not talking about that proud glow of a pregnant woman, but a literal white glow coming from inside a person as if the sun was inside them!

Wow! No wonder the disciples didn’t know what they were saying, because we don’t usually have a ready response to seeing someone glow!

I mean, if someone sneezes, we might respond ‘bless you’, or if someone asks ‘how are you today’, you might respond ‘fine’ (even if you’re not), but because people’s faces don’t generally start glowing from within, we don’t know how to respond (except, you could say ‘hey, nice glow, man!’).

It’s unexpected. It takes us by surprise. It should still surprise us today because it doesn’t normally happen!

So, what does this glow mean? Does this mean Jesus is more than just a man? Was this glow to show he’s more than what meets the eyes? Did it show a glimpse of his divinity? And if so, why now?

And, how come Moses and Elijah were there? Weren’t they supposed to be dead? Or does this indicate God in fact isn’t a God of the dead, but a God of the living? Why were they there and not Noah, David, or Jonah? What do Moses and Elijah represent? What did they do which is similar to what Jesus was about to do? Why were they the people of the past sent to encourage Jesus on his journey to the cross?

You see what I mean? When you start asking what’s unexpected in a text, you start asking interesting questions. It’s like unlocking a mystery. You become curious and hungry for more because you want to hear some answers.

It doesn’t mean you’ll always receive a satisfactory answer, but in your digging and looking for what’s unexpected, you might find some hidden gems which lead you to grow in your faith and understanding.

Another question, which is helpful in devotion or sermon preparation is: what human problem is God speaking to here?

Well, one possibility is that we humans just don’t get it, and because we don’t get it, we miss the mark in our response to it.

Now, what on earth am I talking about?

Did you notice the disciple’s response to this most amazing and unexpected encounter with our God in human flesh and his deputies Moses and Elijah? What did they want to do? They wanted to build structures so this once-in-a-lifetime moment would last.

We humans just don’t get it!

No sooner does God give us a glimpse of his divinity than we immediately want to enshrine it. We want to capture it, keep it, and market it. The disciples thought this was a pretty important moment in history and wanted this moment to last.

We do the same.

For example, have you ever been on a holiday or camp and received such inspiring moments you wanted to bring it back into your daily life so you can receive a high whenever you want?

Have you ever visited another church, or heard a moving song, or heard some charismatic speaker and wondered why we can’t package them up and bring them here so we can experience this again and again?

Have you ever been disappointed whenever you’ve tried to re-create something and it didn’t work the way you hoped, and it may have even lost it’s ‘specialness’?

Then, if it doesn’t work like before, do you beat yourself up because you must have done something wrong, or you take it out on everyone else around you because it has to be their fault your special experience isn’t as great as it used to be?

Do you then unfairly judge and criticize people because they don’t want to do what you want and therefore they’re stopping you from receiving the spiritual highs you had previously?

If only we could capture the spiritual highs and re-create them with the right traditions, the right freedoms, the right buildings, the right speakers, the right music, and the right places! Why can’t we re-live our spiritual highs whenever we want?

Because we don’t get it. We think it’s about keeping a gift as if it’s ours to keep, rather than receiving it and thanking God for that moment and looking forward to his next surprising revelation.

Instead of enshrining this precious moment in history, what’s the one instruction God gave the disciples at the extraordinary event?

‘Listen to him.’

What do we struggle to do most in our life?

Listen to him.

We’d rather sing our favourite hymn or song than listen to him. We’d rather the sermons and readings were shorter so we don’t have to listen to him. We’d rather do something else on Sunday than listen to him. We’d rather read the paper or get on with our day than read the bible for a couple of minutes in the morning. We’d rather watch our favourite soap or the News or something else on TV than listen to him at our evening devotions.

We don’t get it, and sometimes we don’t want it. There’s a spiritual battle going on, and our faith is the casualty.

One of the biggest problems facing the church today is biblical illiteracy. This means those who come regularly to worship might listen to the readings and the sermon, and yet still don’t know the story of salvation. Many people have their own bibles (maybe even more than one translation), but hardly ever open them to see what’s inside them.

God said to his disciples, ‘Listen to him’, and unfortunately many good Christians fail that simple instruction! Most of us have lovely bibles at home, but not every page has seen the light of day!

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we believe all Scripture is breathed by God and is given to us for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). The Word of God is our life-breath as Christians. As we hear what God’s saying to us in his Word, listening for what’s unexpected, understanding the pictures he gives us, and allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire us, we slowly start to get it.

We start to get what Jesus was about to do in his exodus; how he was going to the cross in order to die in our place and grant us forgiveness of sins through the shedding of his innocent and holy blood; how he was going on a journey to lead his people from slavery to sin through the wilderness of suffering and death into the Promised Land of eternal life with him in heaven; how he will sustain us in our own earthly journey through life by speaking to us through his Word; how he will also sustain our faith through his physical gifts of grace of Baptism and Holy Communion, which have been touched by his living and powerful Word; and how his Words still give us direction and comfort.

Can we all take up the challenge this coming Lenten season to listen to him? Can we dust off our Bibles, open them, read them, meditate on them, discuss them, and respond in prayer to what he’s saying to us? His Word is the life-breath for our faith and salvation.

May we all learn to listen to him so that…

the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

This is the day

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

“This is the day that the Lord has made”

Mark 9:2-9Pastor Steve

In Japan there is a mountainous area that for centuries that has been called something that translates into “The place where you leave your mother”. It is named that because of an ancient custom of taking the very old and feeble up to the top of a mountain and leaving them there. A thick forest grows up this mountains side and on a day long ago a strong young man was carrying an aged wisp of a women on his back through the dense forest. As they moved upward, the young man noticed that his mother was reaching out and breaking small branches. “Why are you doing that mother?” he asked. She looked at him with eyes that were dimmed by everything except love, and said: “So you will not become lost on the way back, my son.”

An act of love not unlike what is experienced by the three disciples on that mountain top with Jesus. An event brought about by God the Father to reveal to them the truth of his Son Jesus. To reveal but for a moment the truth behind what is then and what will be. To reveal but for a moment the concealed splendour of his Son and the revelation that this is the one who they have been foretold of in Chapter 8, verse 38 of “He who will come at the end of this age in the glory of His Father with the Holy angels.”

An act of revelation to them of what is and what will be that they can draw on and trust in when they descend that mountain to find themselves confused and in fear as their leader hang from a cross and a revelation they can draw from after the resurrection to give themselves the strength and commitment to be themselves spat on, abused, persecuted and put to death as they too follow in footsteps of their Lord and Saviour and bring His truth to the world.

On that mountaintop they did not understand as surely as they would not when they see their leader, Jesus the Christ, the promised messiah, the man they followed doing miraculous miracles and speaking with unparalleled love and wisdom willingly walk like a lamb to the slaughter into the hornets’ nest to be beaten, whipped, ridiculed and be killed in a manner reserved for the worst of criminals.

Yet a precursor to the moment when all will become clear to the apostles as their minds are opened to understand what was in the Old Testament and what has come in the new. To see that at both on the top of that mountain and at the base of the cross they have seen God’s plan for our salvation come to fruition.

To understand the times leading to Christ. To know the realization of Christ as the messiah, the Savior and the mediator to God who has solved our problem of sin and brought us life and freedom – eternally and here now on our earthly home.

To see not a God that speaks in private like when to Elijah in his mountaintop experience or like to Moses on Mount Sanai when he received the Ten Commandments.  God the Father  whom when talking to Moses on Mount Sinai, said “You cannot see My face; for no person shall see Me, and live, so while My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I shall take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen”.

God the Father protecting Moses from the result of human sin that if exposed directly to the Holiness of God, would have seen Moses like a piece of paper to a raging fire.

Yet here in the Gospel, Jesus the Son of God, the Word, the messiah and the Holy one that all have been waiting for is standing there on the mountain top next to three normal human beings-Peter, James and John.

What a great God is God The Father to not let our sin destroy us, but let us destroy His Son that we now can come here today in his presence clothed in the righteousness of his Son and kneel before Him at His alter and know the truth of not a God who looks to pay back rightful judgment for our transgressions, but our God who in Christ has taken the judgment on himself that we may receive his unending and bottomless amount of compassion, love and forgiveness.

On that mountain God told the disciples “This is my loved Son, listen to Him” and though they did, we know that standing at the foot of the cross before the resurrection they at the very least did not fully understand.

Here in God’s house, before his alter and in our lives we stand at both the base of our Savior’s cross and alongside side Him in His resurrection and heed the call that we listen to Him as His sheep who hear His voice, who He knows and that follow Him, who to I give eternal life, and that shall never perish, nor neither shall anyone snatch you out of His hand”

We listen and hear Him say: “My peace I give to you; (but) not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”.

Because: “Whoever believes in Me will not perish but have eternal life”

And “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”

Martin Luther stated, “Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s Grace, So sure and certain that a person could stake their life on it a thousand times”.

A thousand times we could, but for God the Father one life was enough, and that life was His Son. His life that is built both heaven and earth and His life that is built yours.

A life not of hopelessness, but off hope. A life that sees you look in the mirror and see not a reflection of earthly anguish, but of God the Father seen through His Son Jesus hearing our weeping and catching our tears that they not well up and drown us despair, but see Him reach out with  His hands of Grace that flow through our lives.

The grace that gives us ears to hear on our last day “a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

And the faith that gives us ears to hear and hearts and minds to know His grace that sees us able to rejoice and sing out His praises as we dwell in our days here with our Lord, on this earth.

You are people of the Lord, and that God who did not spare his Son is for you, you can rejoice and be glad in all things because like those still walking this earth on its last day will see His arrival ushering in the dawn of the new heaven and the new earth, so too today at the rising of the sun the Lord seeks  that our hearts not be troubled nor afraid, but to know that we can we raise our heads and live in His peace and rejoice in the precious years, days or moments that have been given to us. Praise be to God. Amen

What are we doing?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Transfiguration Sunday

Some 4,000 years or so ago, a city of people endeavoured to build a tower, the tower of Babel which some say was to be built 91 meters high. So high that they thought  it would reach to heaven, to God.

2010 in Dubai, the 828 metre Burj Khalifa tower was opened. Nine times the height of the tower of Babel, and still not a sight of the gates to paradise.

July 20th 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, and uttered those words that have become part of history: “That’s one small step for man (and) one giant step for mankind”.  Prior to leaving Neil and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin erected a plaque that read “Here men from the planet earth first set foot upon the moon, and we come in peace”.

Back on planet earth, on that day-the first Australian women was killed in the Vietnam War.

On a later moon landing, one of the astronauts looking back at earth, looking back at this beautiful  and radiant bright green, brown and blue marble, shining amongst the dark space. But knowing of its troubles made a an apt comment  “what are we doing down there?

Several weeks ago in the paper a scientist remarked that due to the state of the earth, the pollution, population increase and the resources we need to carry on-we will need to find another planet that we can colonise within the next several hundred years.

That plaque on the moon, “we come in peace”,  good intentions but given our track record-what do you think are the chances?

Even the great St. Paul. A man of God- who after reflecting on himself stated “I do what I don’t want to do, and don’t do what I want to do”.

Humankinds desire to be the master of its own destiny, to rely only on itself-is a desire to be like God, to be God, or at the very least, to earn our right to be in God’s presence and to earn eternal life.

Essentially, in our society we are lead to believe the world revolves around us. The land of “I”.

How well do you reckon that’s been travelling? A bit like that plaque on the moon I would suggest.

Our Gospel today is like a history lesson of God’s plan for our salvation. The times leading to Christ. The realisation of Christ as the messiah, our Saviour, and our mediator. Christ that solved our problem of sin and brought us life and freedom – eternally and now, here on our earthly home.

The apostles are on the mountain top with Jesus, and before them appear Elijah and Moses.

Two of God’s great servants from the Old Testament. Elijah the prophet who God spoke to on a mountain top, and Moses, who on Mount Sinai God gave  the law, the ten commandments.

These men and the Old Testament in general, continually testified to the future coming of the messiah.  Here on this mountain top, the presence of Moses and Elijah confirm that Jesus is the fulfilment of those testimonies, that Jesus is both the focus and the fulfilment of the Old Testimont.

Yet, Jesus the Son of God, the Word, the messiah, the Holy one that all have been waiting for is standing there on the mountain top next to three normal human beings-Peter, James and John.

This is significant.

Previously when Moses had met God on Mount Sinai, God said “You cannot see My face; for no person shall see Me, and live, so while My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I shall take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen”.

Why did God act in this way? He wasn’t playing charades or trying to rain on Moses parade, we was protecting Him. Due to sin, if exposed directly to the Holiness of God, Moses would have been like a piece of paper to a raging fire.

As it was, when Moses went down from the mountain, his face was glowing so brightly in God’s Glory that he had to where a veil so that others could even look at him.

Because of Human sin, brought about by the fall in the Garden of Eden, the relationship with God was fractured. We see this all through the Old Testament. In the temple, God would descend veiled in a cloud, and even them only the chief priest could approach the alter. It has been said that that in those days they used to tie a rope around the chief priests ankle, so that if didn’t make it out, they could drab him out.  “Rumour” has it that for at least one this happened .

So what of Christ. You will remember that upon His death on the cross, the curtain that surrounded the alter was torn in two. The separation between God and sinful humans had been taken away by Christ dying on the cross for our sins. .

In Christ we are free to approach God in all His Holiness because he is our the mediator and our intercessor.

Christ said “I have not come to remove the law, but to fulfil the law”. The law that we know is good-but leads death if we think that we can keep it enough to gain God’s acceptance-this is what we know as self-righteousness.

But Christ has restored our relationship with God the Father with His righteousness.

In Jesus we see God, not of the law, but of compassion, love and forgiveness.

In Jesus, God does not see us clothed in our sin, but clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. Thus,  we can approach God as we are and seek his forgiveness and help in our lives. Prayers that he hears because of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Christ has brought God’s forgiveness. Not because we earn it, not because of anything we have done or will do-but because of what Christ alone has done.

In Christ we are free-free in this life to go about our business with surety of his promise. On the mountain top God told  us “To listen to Him”, and what HAS Jesus told us.  John 3:16. “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.

So what of our lives now. Do we throw the baby out with the bath water?  Saved in Christ, free in Christ-does that mean we just sit back and smell the roses while those around us are still building their towers of Babel to nowhere. Absolutely not.

Freedom in Christ allows us to take a step back, to see things clearly. To not allow for anguish over the things we suffer from others-but to suffer with them. To not worry of ourselves when taken advantage of-but to suffer with that person who does so. To be ridiculed, yet return to them our service. To lift up those from whom we have been downtrodden.

As free people in Christ, we take a step back and see things as they are, and seeing them in Christ they are different.

At the end of the American civil war slaves in the South were released from their bondage and told they were free to go-to do what they want and when they wanted to do it. Yet many replied, now that I am free, I will stay and work harder than I ever did-but as a free person.

2nd Corinthians 12:10 tells us that now that we are Co-labourers with God, “We are to take up the burdens that God appoints, bearing them for His sake, and ever going to Him for rest. Whatever our work, God is honoured by whole hearted, cheerful service. He is pleased when we take up our duties with gratitude, rejoicing that we are accounted worthy to be co-labourers with Him”.

American Tennis player Pete Sampras on winning the first of his 14 Grand Slam events was asked “what’s it like to be a tennis champion”, to which he responded, “I already was”.

On that glorious day when we all meet again in our eternal home before our Lord and Saviour, should someone ask you what’s it like to be free? You can respond, “I already was”.

Yes, we already are, even though this side of heaven we still carry our human traits and our sin,we still live as free people because of Christ.

Not free as if NASA has found another utopian world we can all go and settle on. Not free because we have built our own stair way to heaven, but free because of Christ. Faith not in ourselves, but faith in Christ alone.

Martin Luther stated, “Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s Grace, So sure and certain that a person could stake their life on it a thousand times”.

On the mountain top, God said to three apostles, said to us “listen to Him”.

So we shall:

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”.

“My peace I give to you; (but) not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”.

“Whoever believes in Me will not perish but have eternal life”

“If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed”

Yes, we are free and the world looks different. Tears and Sadness, laughter and happiness. Mistakes and achievements, serving and being served, we do as saved and free people.

In Christ our world looks different, because it is-and we rejoice.

Amen

Super strength

Friday, March 4th, 2011

The Transfiguration of our Lord

Text: Matthew 17:1-3
Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Super strength

 

 


Everyone here, I am sure, has heard of Superman. Maybe you don’t know too much about him and have never been a fan of this comic book character but you know that he has super human strength, is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able leap tall buildings in a single bound” – to use the opening words of the old TV series. There are some very interesting facts behind this comic book character.

The character was first created in 1933 by a shy, spectacled Jewish teenager who fretted about his lack of popularity. Convinced that some miracle could transform him from a nerd to a hunk, he vented his frustration by writing comic strip scenarios. He showed them to his best friend, who drew characters and scenes to accompany the story line. The two boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, created a superhuman extraterrestrial disguised as a clumsy reporter named Clark Kent. In June 1938 the first Superman comic book appeared.

Whether this was deliberate or not there are strong biblical overtones in the Superman story. Like the way Superman comes to earth from another planet as a baby, is rescued from the capsule that brought him here, is adopted by strangers and grows up to confront evil and rescue those in distress. That is so much like the stories of Moses we find in the Bible.

There are also messianic overtones. Kal-El (Superman’s real name), the only son of Jor-El, is sent to a world in need of salvation. (El is Hebrew word for God). Superman’s father says, “Even though you’ve been raised as a human being you’re not one of them. … They lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all … I have sent them you . . . my only son (From Superman Returns). He arrives on a farm in a star-shaped container. People tell him they don’t need a saviour, but he knows full well that they really do.

Superman is, of course, not real. He is an imaginary character but one that isn’t totally irrelevant to this day and age. Kids pretend to be able to fly like Superman and run around the house with hands above their heads making a whooshing sound. Even as adults we would all like to have the strength and courage of the Man of Steel for those times when things get out of control. When our problems are bigger than our ability to handle them, it would be great if we could have the strength and power to over come them.

What are some of the things that throw us off balance?
Disappointment, disagreement, discontent,
disillusionment, distress, disunity,
discouragement, discomfort, disenchantment,
disability, disgruntlement, disloyalty,
dissatisfaction, disapproval, disquiet,
disharmony, disobedience, discrimination,
disasters, disorientation, disputes,
dissent, distrust, distraction,
disingenuousness (there’s one to look up) and whatever other word that starts with “d” that describes what causes you to be “down in the dumps”.
What can be done when we are just worn out and tired from life’s hassles?
What can be done when the pressures and the worries get the better of us and there is no joy any more?

This week we will enter the Lenten season but before we head for Jerusalem for the events of Good Friday and Easter we travel with Jesus to the top of a mountain. Jesus withdraws from the noise and busyness of every day life before heading off into the events that would lead to his death.

Jesus knows that the days that lay ahead will be filled with every trial known to a human being. Put yourself in the same situation as Jesus, knowing full well what horrors are soon to happen. Knowing what terrible pain and suffering is to come would weaken the bravest heart. It is true Jesus is a special person; nevertheless he experienced all the emotions and misgivings that we experience.

And so Jesus goes to the top of a mountain to be with his heavenly Father. He spends the time in prayer. It is interesting to note that every time Jesus is confronted with a difficulty or personal struggle he first goes to God in prayer. And here again he goes to God for strength for his mission.

And while Jesus is there on the mountaintop, away from the noise and hubbub of the rest of the world, he meets with Moses and Elijah. This meeting has on its agenda what will happen to Jesus when he goes to Jerusalem. They talked of his dying and rising (Luke 9:31). They encourage Jesus, reminding him of God’s plan of salvation and how the events about to take place are a fulfilment of all that is spoken about in the Law and the Prophets. Maybe this was God’s way of keeping in perspective the suffering Jesus was about to endure – yes, it will be horrible but it will bring untold blessing to sinners all over the planet.

Then comes the cloud, a sign of God’s presence. And from the cloud a voice speaks, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen”. “This is my Son whom I love and whom I have sent to be the saviour of the world”. With this reassurance of love and the encouragement of Moses and Elijah, Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem.

For Jesus, Jerusalem meant suffering.
Maybe you have your own personal “Jerusalem”. Those times when the events and upsets, the pressures and spiritual struggles that leave you wondering how you will ever cope.
Your Jerusalem might include a doctor’s comment, “There’s something I need to tell you about the results of your tests”.
Your Jerusalem might be that phone call that announces the sudden death of someone close.
Your Jerusalem might be a troubled relationship. You want things to be different between you and that other person but it just isn’t happening.
Your Jerusalem might be the disappointment you feel when your dreams and plans fall into a heap.
Your Jerusalem might be difficult people that you have to deal with. You do your best but in the end there is someone who finds fault and cuts away any confidence that you had.

Your own personal Jerusalem may be your discipleship. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him. This is a call by Jesus to be disciples who are willing to make sacrifices when it comes to
following Jesus or
reaching to help and get alongside of someone in need or
giving of our best in our workplace.

Sacrifice is not a popular concept these days. We are so used to asserting our rights and getting what we want that sacrifice is a really difficult thing?
We struggle to sacrifice just a little of our time to worship God with our fellow Christians or talk with him daily.
We know that God calls us to show love, patience, forgiveness and understanding but we find it hard to sacrifice our own needs and wants for the sake of the benefit of someone else.
We know that discipleship calls us to put Christ first in our lives and be committed to him just as he is committed to us but somehow we manage to get sidetracked by all kinds of trivia.
We want to be true disciples but we feel so inadequate. This is our
Jerusalem.When it came to facing Jerusalem, what did Jesus do? He withdrew for a while into the presence of God and was reassured and strengthened for his mission. That’s where we will find forgiveness, strength and assurance – in the presence of God.
Maybe you have resisted getting close to God and kept him at an arm’s length.
Maybe you know about the death and resurrection of Jesus as interesting facts but never taken in that he did it for you and really trusted his love for you.
Maybe you have never really thought of God as right here, right now, available, ready to help, willing to strengthen and support you.
Maybe you have floundered under the weight of trouble but have never taken seriously the promises of God, promises like –
“Do not be afraid—I am with you! I am your God—let nothing terrify you! I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you” (Isaiah 41:10). The almighty and all powerful God of the universe is making that promise to you personally. That’s fantastic!!

Our God is a God who stands by his people and gives them the strength to cope with whatever crops up along life’s journey.
Our God is a God who has demonstrated his love for us on the cross and he is not about to abandon us now or any time in the future. Jesus died a horrible death because of his love for each of us. That’s how much God cares for us. It is confidence in God’s love for us that led the psalmist to say,
“Even if I go through the deepest darkness, I will not be afraid, Lord, for you are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me” (Psalm 23:4).
And again,
“I am surrounded by many troubles— too many to count! Your love and loyalty will always keep me safe” (Psalm 40:11,12).It’s amazing how positive the apostle Paul could be in the face of trouble. He explains it like this, “I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me” (Phil 4:12,13). We too know that come what may God’s presence and power enables us to rise above whatever it is that is getting us down.

When everything dictates that you “call it quits”, “give up” “throw in the towel” you are able to say with the psalmist, “I trust your love” (Psalm 13:4 CEV). The cross is a symbol of the love that God has for you.
From under the shadow of the cross you are certain that your sins are forgiven and death has been defeated. Even if the worst should happen, you are at peace certain of God’s loving hands that surround you.
In the shade of cross you receive life giving food and drink, the body and blood of Jesus that encourages and sustains you through every trial to the point where you are able to say, “With God on my side, what trouble can really hurt me? Nothing in all creation is able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).
In the shade of the cross you can take timeout and take to God what it is that is bugging you and be reassured and strengthened.
In the shade of the cross you go about your work and relationships ready to boldly share the love that Christ has shown to you in whatever way you can.

Superman is just make believe but you have super powers at your disposal. You are supermen and super women because you can say, “Christ gives me the strength to face anything” (Phil 4:13 CEV).
Amen

Transformed by the Light

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Transformed by the light 1 Cor 3:12-4:2

A baby is born!  There is new life.  There is joy, there is future.  A new light shines in the world.  (turn on a lamp with a dimmer to full)  When we are born, our life is something like this brightly glowing lamp; its new, fresh and full of life.  But as we age, it is like the light of our life begins to dim.  There are the milestones in life that remind us of our mortality; of the dimming of our light of life (Turning the dimmer down get the congregation to recount some of the milestones in life, but don’t put out.)

The finality and certainty of death snuffs out our light of life. Psalm 103:15-16 reminds us of our dimming light: As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.’ (turn off light)

There is a point in life, when all of us will realise our life is dimming.  Yes, for some, this revelation will come at old age, yet for others, the dimming of their light of life may come at an early age.  Sickness, injury, depression, loneliness or hopelessness, reveal to us that our light of life is dimming.  It is at these times when it is hardest to comprehend and see the reality St Paul’s words that ‘we, … are being transformed into [Christ’s] likeness with ever-increasing glory.’

Just the other day I was with an elderly gentleman.  His head was balding, with only a small ring of white hair remaining.  His face was weathered with age, his eyes showed that his years had been hard; he was a retired Uniting Church minister and he was leading us in a minister’s retreat.  He told us of the time when he looked into the mirror, it was his awakening, a realisation that he was now an old man; his light was dimming.  He, as we all do, struggled to grasp the good news that, ‘we..are being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory’.  When he looked into the mirror, all he saw was death; he could not grasp the reality that some how Christ was in him shining in ‘ever-increasing glory.’

He wrote this poem…

Like the poem, Jesus’ disciple’s often peered and probed into Jesus, hoping to see a glimpse, a vision of the light and glory he often spoke about, yet it was not forth coming.  Jesus, the one who claimed to be the light of the world, seemed to be dimming like all of us.  In fact, he would often talk about his death to them saying, ‘the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death.’

Yet suddenly, in this dimness of light, in Jesus’ very body and life that was heading towards death, the bright gospel light is suddenly revealed.  Luke writes ‘As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.’

Jesus is transfigured, revealing the hidden glory of God that is within his very being; the light, the power, the awesomeness of God’s love: the same glory that Moses used to look upon in the wilderness; a light so glorious that his face would shine, long after he left the presence of the Lord.  A holiness that was so powerful, it was reflected on his face; so fearsome that the Israelites were too scared to even look at Moses and insisted he cover his face with a vale.  Jesus is the light of the world.  His transfiguration shines forth to proclaim that he is truly God, hidden and incarnate in the man Jesus, who was soon to be crucified.  Yet because he is the light of the world, the glory of God would continue to shine even in his death.  On the third day, he rose again to live for ever and bring many to glory.

The transfiguration of Jesus, the revealing of the glory of God, was a glimpse, a probing, a peering, a vision of God; a chance look into the glorious face of God. A face that shone love, compassion and grace as Jesus said ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’  So much love shone at that moment that Peter was awe struck and wanted to bask in the glory of God forever.

That very light of grace and love, that shone in Jesus, now shines in us.  What was once shining only in the domain of God is now ours in Christ.  What was once only shining before Moses now shines in our hearts through the gospel.  The glory of God now rests in us through Christ, who dwells in us by faith.  ‘And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.’ Our glory is still hidden in Christ.  We cannot see his light.  It is only by faith and will only be fully revealed in death.

Christ in us, as St Paul says in Galatians 2:20, changes our light of life, from a dying light, to a brightening light; ‘it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me’.  (use the light dimmer and make it brighter and brighter) In baptism, we are born again by the spirit and water.  The light of Christ begins to shine in us.  As we get older; as we pass those milestones of faith, where we hear and receive Christ and the power of the Spirit, through word and sacrament, the glory of Christ shines brighter and brighter (get congregation to name some milestones of faith and turn up the light).

Jesus reverses our light of life, from a dimming light that is snuffed out at death, to an ever increasing light of life that will at death, shine forever bright as we shine together with him in heaven.

Amen

The cost of Love

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

The cost of Love- Mark 9_ 2-9

I have some things here that were once an important and integral part of our congregation.  Some things that represented who we w
ere and what we believed in. (school banner).  As you look at this banner, perhaps it reminds you of the sounds of kids running through our church grounds; reminds you of the laughter and also of the part you, as members here, took in the nurture and growth of your children’s faith.  But now it is gone; it has been surpassed.
(use the hymn books over head and song)

The Hymn book of your Lutheran church.  The book your parents used to sing all the great Lutheran hymns, like ‘Almighty Fortress is our God’ and ‘The church’s one foundation’.  Perhaps as you now see this, it reminds you of the time your mum or dad held it in front of you to help you sing; or of the time at Christmas when there were not enough hymn books to go around because there was so many people here; even the balcony was full.  But now it is gone, it has been surpassed by the PowerPoint.  Same songs, only its up on a screen.

When we see these things again, we are reminded of how attached we are to our environment.  Attached to the things we see, experience and use as normal in our lives; normal parts of our worship life.  The things of our church become part of us, in fact they symbolise who we are and what we stand for.  For us, these are not just things, not just another school they are who we are…our very being. We are some how attached to what we are used to and as we use it we remember the people, the good times and the excitement of using it.

When changes come about or there is no longer any use for what we have, we mourn the loss.  We mourn that fact that part of who we are, part of our history, our world view and belief system has been taken away from us.  We long to remain the same; remain in what we know and what is certain; in the tried and tested.  Change brings uncertainty and so a desire to hang on to what we know.

Jesus brought uncertainty and change to the people of Israel.  He upset and challenged the way they saw God.  He spoke against the Scribes and Pharisees who many thought, had taught the truth about God.  He talked about God in a new way.  He was different from any other religious teachers.  He talked with and associated with sinners and outcasts.  Jesus even  claimed to be the messiah, the Son of God…which was OK except he said ‘The Son of man must suffer many things and that he must be killed and on the third day rise again.’  Radically new stuff!  With Jesus, change was in the air which meant many people felt uneasy and uncertain; felt that a part of them was dying.

The disciples were also uncertain and uncomfortable about the changes Jesus was bringing in.  Sure, most likely, when the disciples where first called to follow Jesus, it was sort of fun to pick on the Scribes, it was sort of funny to see the Pharisees fumble and fail to find an answer against Jesus’ teachings.  But then Jesus began to change their environment and started to make their life feel uncomfortable they started to pine and morn for the way it was; the normality of their Jewish faith.  Jesus said and commanded radically new things like ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’ With new teachings like this, the disciples were probably having second thoughts.  We hear this in Peter’s confession after Jesus spoke of his death ‘surely this will not happen to you’; a good indicator that he was not prepared to let go of his old belief and old way of thinking.

Is it no wonder then, when they witnessed Jesus transfigured and glowing like lightning, Peter and the other disciples became afraid and shook with terror at this new development.  It is no wonder then, when they then saw Moses and Elijah standing there, Peter tried desperately to cling to the past; to what they knew and said ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters– one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’

Peter and the other disciples wanted to hold onto Moses and Elijah an anchor point, a stable part of their faith they knew and felt comfortable with.  ‘If we build a house or place of worship for you three guys, Peter thought, then we will have certainty and be back in our comfort zone because things will be like they were’.

Just then, while planing and hoping to keep things the same; just the way it had been before Jesus, in an instant it was all gone.  Moses and Elijah vanished from view; no longer needed.  And along with them, Peter’s hopes and plans, his security and certainty.  Moses and Elijah, the men of old have been replaced and surpassed by the only man remaining…Jesus.  Only Jesus the Son of God remains.  Only Jesus and his word will remain from now on, as he says ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.’

Peter and the disciples had been given a graphic lesson in what it means to follow Jesus.  Their past faith, while important and essential, and as personal as it was to them, was going to change and move indirections they would not want to go.  Jesus would lead them into foreign lands, into dangerous places, to whipping and beatings and ultimately to their own death for his name’s sake.

The certainty that the past brought, will no longer be their anchor point.  Jesus had a mission and was on the move to save the world, to seek and to save the lost. Peter and the other disciples would soon understand what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus for the sake of saving others.

(names) you are followers of Jesus and you also, like the disciple are taking up and carrying a heavy cross.  Following Jesus means there will be changes and uncertainty for the sake of the gospel; for the sake of Jesus’ mission.  We have now sold this church building, the very building which has seen you grow up in the faith and has played an important part in your life; a tried and true security point for you and the community of Gilgandra. This difficult time has, as it did for the disciples on the mountain, graphically demonstrated to us that nothing on earth will ultimately remain other than the man Jesus.

Yes, we can try to keep the past alive by talking and remembering and yes that is a valid and natural part of grieving, just as it was for Peter.  Yes, we can be sorry things turned out the way they did and try to find answers and focus on hindsight, all very important steps in mourning such a loss.  Yet as followers of Jesus, even in the midst of change we can join Paul and say ‘I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’

Today can be our transfiguration; a time when we are changed into people who only see Jesus.  A time when we are transfigured into people who leave what they dearly love and gladly take up our cross and follow Jesus, just as Peter, James and John did; just as the rest of the disciples.

Now is the time to be on the move with Jesus; now is the time to be joint missionaries with him in seeking and saving the lost.  Now is the time to be the salt and the light of all Australians driving the Newell Highway.  Now is the time to know that the Pastors of NWS are praying for us; praying that the cross we now carry for the sake of the gospel will not be too heavy; praying that it will bear fruit in the new church building on the highway.

To leave behind what we cherish for the sake of Jesus is no simple task; it takes courage and it takes faith.  Together we have made the right choice and the only choice, which is the call to follow Jesus.  Our Lutheran heritage has always put the gospel of Jesus before personal benefit.

So now hear and be encouraged by the words of our Lord ‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.  A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.’  Amen

Transfiguration – Matthew 17:1-9

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

I have a post card here, its from … and the opening words are ‘wish you were
here.’
Whenever we have some good news or experience something really exciting, we want those closest to know about it.  In fact, we want more than that, we want them to be apart of it; we want them with us, to experience what we are experiencing.

We are lucky in this day and age we have the technology to share special experiences; live with our friends.  Using our phones or a web cam we can bring friends right into our moments of joy. Perhaps it’s a wedding or a party or a holiday.  We have this technology because we love to share our joyful experiences with others, not just afterwards, but while we are actually experiencing it.  However, this technology is still no substitute for having our family and friends really being there; experiencing along with us, the excitement, the joy and the wonder of what we are seeing and experiencing;  we want them to have the same joy.

You and I like to share special moments and events, because most of the time our lives are often fairly ordinary, daily routines and schedules make our lives busy, but often not exciting.  And sometimes this is the way it seems with God.  Our relationship with him is fairly ordinary, nothing special.  We routinely make ourselves busy with God; we pray to him, we give thanks to him, we receive from him grace and forgiveness, peace and everything we need for our bodies.

Yet this all happens in very mundane and ordinary ways.  We wonder that perhaps, if we were to experience God in a more glorious and exciting way, if we could share his working with us, then we would understand and know him more; then we may even be closer to him.

Jesus did just that; shared his life.  He did it with his disciples.  He shared with them what was happening in his life; and invited them to join him.  He shared with them that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and to be killed.  He shared with them that he would love them to be with him; to take up their cross and follow him.  But did they feel closer to him?  Did they experience the same joy in obedience as him?    Did they even want to be there?  Peter answers from us all when he realized what Jesus was talking about ‘Never Lord!  This shall never happen to you.’

That’s right.  To share in Jesus’ world is not what we would really want to do.  When he invited the disciples to join him, they refused because they could not understand the meaning and purpose of sharing in suffering.  ‘Lord, why would you want to suffer and die, why would you want us to be with you in all this?’  You and I don’t want others to share in our suffering, we want to spare them.  Would you send a postcard from hospital saying ‘wishing you were here!’  No, we find it hard to comprehend suffering and avoid it at all costs.

Yet Jesus does not abandon his disciples to their misunderstandings, no, he encourages them all the more to come and join him; he wants his friends to experience who he really is; to truly know him; to be apart of his life.  He invites his closest disciples, Peter, James and John to come and climb a mountain.  To endure with him the hardship that comes with mountain climbing; the pain, the near falls, and the tiredness that comes with strenuous work.

And he calls them to do this, to be with him, so that they will share a special moment with him; an exciting moment when he is glorified.  Jesus, as we do with our friends, wants his disciples to experience what he is experiencing and to share his joy with them.  Then they may know who he is – that he is the Son of God.  Jesus wants them to look beyond their suffering; to endure their current hardships of the mountain climb, so that they may experience, with him, the hidden Glory of God.

You and I are no different to the disciples.  We take a look at our lives and the lives of others, and often all we see is the mundane and the ordinary; Or all we see is the mountain we have to climb.  The mountains of ill health and hardship or loneliness and depression.  And we think to ourselves as St Paul said ‘Never Lord, surely, this is not to be.’

Yet Jesus invites us to be a part of this.  To take up our cross and follow him; to be with him so that he may share his life with you.  He wants us to be where he is, even if this means we must climb a hard mountain.  Jesus wants us to place our trust in him, in his word; Just as our Father in heaven invites us to saying ‘This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.  Listen to him’.

To listen is to trust as the disciples did.  To trust, that despite the mountain we may be climbing, or the ordinary and mundane things we are currently experiencing, Jesus is still the Son of God.  And to listen is to hear and believe that hidden behind the norm, the mundane or the suffering, is the glory and power of God.

And sometimes as we follow, Jesus may still reveal his glory, just as he did with the disciples at the transfiguration. I would like to get Rosale to come and tell us about how God gave her a chance to experience his glory and power, even in the midst of suffering.

Despite what we see, and what Rosale saw with her daughter, her miracle healing helps us to understand that Jesus promises to be with us, and to heal us spiritually and calls us to share in his life.  And he does just that, heal us and share his life with us, in the sacrament of Holy Communion.  What looks to us as normal and mundane, is the power of God to save us.  Hidden in, with and under the bread and wine is Jesus body and blood.  And he invites us to be with him, to trust his word, as his Father announced, that as we eat and drink, he forgives us, heals us and gives us a share in his life.

Yes, we may not always see the power and glory of God, just as the disciples didn’t see it in Jesus, but this is why he is transfigured, and why it is recorded in the bible, so that we too may believe and truly know that Jesus is the Son of God. And so we may know when Jesus says ‘this is my body, this is my blood; given and shed for you’, that this is true.  And that in this sacrament, as he did with the disciples, Jesus is calling us to share in his life.  And he is calling us to share in his joy. Amen