Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sermon; Last Epiphany B; Mark 9:2-9

Today being the Last Sunday after the Epiphany we have jumped forward in Mark several chapters.  In Chapter 8 (which immediately precedes our reading) we have the feeding of the 4,000, the disciples lack of understanding, the healing of the blind man, the “Who do you say that I am” question, a crucifixion/resurrection prophesy, Jesus telling Peter to “Get behind me, Satan,” and an admonishment to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus.  A lot happened in that last chapter.

And now, six days later, Jesus goes up a mountain with Peter, James and John, and is transfigured before them.  Jesus' clothes become dazzling white.  Elijah and Moses appear.  Peter, in an effort to overcome his fear, says, “Let's make three dwellings, one for each of you.”  And then they were gone.

This event, the Transfiguration, is one of the great mysteries of the faith.  It is not easily explained, and sometimes it is too easily explained.  This is a theophany, a close encounter with God.  This is a Christophany, a vision of Jesus as God.  And the mystery of that event is unexplainable.  But we can't help ourselves sometimes, and we want to explain the event and have it explained to us.  But trying in trying to do that, we lose sight of the mystery.

We talk about this as being evidence of Jesus' divinity.  We talk about fulfilling the law and the prophets.  We talk about the exuberance of Peter.  And we talk about our tendency to want to confine Jesus to a tent built on a mountain.  But we don't talk about the mystery.

Let's face it – this event is a mystery.  It's not every day a person begins to radiate white light.  And what about Elijah and Moses?  How did the disciples know who they were?  Because I'm pretty sure they didn't show up wearing a “Hello!  My name is __________” sticky tag.  Then Elijah and Moses vanish.  Shouldn't this have happened in front of the Pharisees?  This whole thing is a mystery.

It's a mystery because love is a mystery.  A cloud overshadows those six people and a voice says, “This is my Son, the Beloved.”

The Beloved.  I think we tend to overlook that reference.  I think we tend to see it as just another title for Jesus.  But what if we started looking at it like we might use it?  What if we ascribed to God the same feelings we have about our beloved?

We fall in love multiple times over our lives.  Sometimes with different people and sometimes with the same people.  My first love was in second grade and her name was Deena Hawley.  I was going to marry that girl; that is, until my family moved away.  I’ve fallen in and out of love with my wife several times over our 26 years together.  I fell in love with my daughter the day she was born.  Last week we celebrated over 60 years of love between Bill and Avis.  Songs and tales are written about love and people do wonderfully amazing and stupid things in the name of love.

Yes, love can make us do some amazingly stupid things.  And love can also make us smile.

We smile when we see pictures of our beloved.  We smile when our phone goes off with a special ring-tone.  We have inside jokes and secret signals that we flash to each other.  In the movie Ghost, Oda Mae fails at convincing Molly that she's channeling Sam's spirit until she says, “Ditto.”

When we are “in love,” we glow.  Brides are described as radiant.  Katrina sings about walking on sunshine.  Paul's heart went boom when he crossed that room.  And Jeff Lynne saw lovers flying through the air.

Love can change our attitude.  Love can change our outlook.  Love can change our perception.  Love can transfigure us.

And that may be the point of the Transfiguration.

John writes that God is love, and that when we love others we walk in light.  Many writers have told us that it was through an act of love that God created; and when he did, there was light.  An old Christmas carol begins, “Love came down at Christmas.”  Jesus was the Beloved.  And when he was up on that mountain, and God was present in the law and the prophets, and the Holy Spirit overshadowed them, the love of God burst forth, transfiguring Jesus into a radiant beam shining like the sun.

What makes us want to write poetry and songs?  What makes us walk on sunshine?  What makes our heart go boom?  What makes our faces beam in radiant light?

The answer is love.

Love can make us do all of those things.  Love can transfigure us.  Love transfigured Jesus.

I don't know why it works that way, it's a mystery.  But it's a mystery I’m willing to live with and into.

Today is the Last Sunday after the Epiphany.  Wednesday we begin our Lenten journey that ends with Christ’s sacrificial death and victorious resurrection in the name of love.

Come and see what it's like to live into the mystery of love.

Come and see what it's like to be Transfigured by God.



First time comments will be moderated.