Sunday, February 15, 2015

Let's Be Transformed

I didn't get preach this morning so this morning as I listened to the sermon at our church, I remembered the sermon I had prepared last year, but never got to share because we had a snow storm, so I thought I'd share it here this year.

Exodus 24:12-18
Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration or Transfiguration Sunday.  It is the Sunday between the season after Epiphany and Lent.  The transfiguration was a time when human nature met God with Jesus as the bridge.  Today, we will think about the Transfiguration of Jesus and how it relates to the upcoming season of Lent. 

Jesus takes Peter, James and John high up the mountain with him to be witnesses of what is about to happen.  This transfiguration is a revealing of Jesus’s true nature.  Jesus is glorified.  These three disciples get to see who Jesus really is and then they hear the voice of God coming out of the cloud, “This is my son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

Jesus was revealed to them!  When they heard God’s voice they were scared.  They fell to the ground overcome with fear.  Can you imagine it?

Have you ever been that scared?  I will admit that I have.  My husband’s first deployment started about 3 or 4 months before the war in Iraq began. He left on a 6th month rotation in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. We knew when he left that war was coming and that he might not come home as scheduled.  I was scared when he left.  I didn’t know what to expect.  Then one night, the night the war was kicking off, I got a phone call.  It was my husband.  He was calling before the blackout, that’s when all lines out are turned off and there is no more communication for a while.  His words made my blood run cold.  He said, “I just wanted to tell you I love you one last time.”  That scared me to death.  It literally took my breath away.  I quickly told him I loved him and then he was gone.  I remember that I barely made to the room where my parents were sleeping in, before I fell to the floor crying.  I was that scared.

I think this must have been a little like how the disciples felt when they heard the voice of God. They had just witnessed light glowing from Jesus and then Elijah and Moses appeared and then, this voice came from the cloud.  It had to be overwhelming and frightening.  They were overcome with fear and fell to the ground.  Then Jesus came over to them and touched them and said, “Get up and do not be afraid.”   That reassuring voice of Jesus, “Get up, you have more to do.  Don’t be afraid, I’m with you. “  If we had read on in Matthew just  few verses, we would have heard Jesus tell them to wait to tell anyone about what they had seen until after his resurrection.  There was more preparing to be done before everyone was ready to have Jesus really revealed to them.

Back in Exodus, God called Moses to the mountain to receive the stone tablets but he told them to wait there. And the glory of the Lord settled on the mountain in the form of a brilliant cloud.  Now, I bet the Israelites were just as scared as the disciples at the sight.   Moses waited on the mountain for 6 days.  On the 7th day God called Moses from the cloud to come to him and Moses entered the cloud, went up the mountain and stayed there for 40 days and 40 nights.

Now, I enjoy finding how stories match up or finding threads that run through the Bible and 40 days is one of them.  In the story of Noah, it rained for 40 days and then Noah waited another 40 days before opening the window of the ark. Moses was on the mountain for 40 days (this happened twice with Moses).  Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days and so on.  And, Lent is a 40 day observance. 

Lent is a time when we draw near to God.  It’s time to reflect on our lives and our relationship with the Lord.  It’s a time for sacrifice, it’s a time for renewal.  If want, we can take these 40 days and use them to be transformed ourselves to be more like Christ.  Isn’t that what we are called to be?  

In Leviticus, we are told to be holy (19:2 it was discussed the week before) and then in Matthew, Jesus tells us to be perfect (5:48).  Lent is time for us to work on this.  There are many ways people observe Lent.  Some people give something up.  They give up chocolate, soft drinks, eating out.  Now a days, people try to give up Facebook or TV for the 40 days, though this year, I’ve heard of people just giving them up on Sundays during the 40 days. 

Some people add something to better themselves, a discipline.  Such as fasting once a week, adding daily Bible readings, more prayer time, exercising, eating healthier and so on.

Whichever way you go about it, the purpose is to spend the 40 days focusing more on God, strengthening our relationship with Christ, developing good habits that will help lead us to a our own transformation.

Christ was transfigured that day on the mountain.  His true self was revealed to the disciples.  Now it’s our turn.  We can‘t be transfigured but we can be transformed.  We can reveal through discipline who it is that God created us to be, a child of God, a Christ follower, a servant to others.  We can use these 40 days, which start this Wednesday, to transform our lives for Christ.  Will you join me? 

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