Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 6 Sermon (Last Epiphany)

I enjoyed watching the Academy Awards. I admit it. The glamour, the jokes, the wonderful movies, seeing 94 year old Kirk Douglas ham it up. But what I enjoy most, every year, is seeing that actor or actress who thought it was great to be nominated, but didn’t expect to win, hear their name read from the stage.

This year, that was Melissa Leo for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She was caught by surprise and then she just lit up, and enjoyed the moment that all actors/actresses dream of. It was her mountain top experience!

For Moses, he was called up the mountain, into God’s very midst and was given the Ten Commandments to give to the Israelites and he literally glowed from the experience.

We all have had such experiences. Our wedding day, the birth of a child, graduation day, a job promotion, so many things in our lives are those mountain top experiences, when we think we are on top of it all, it can’t get any better than this moment. I want you to take a second and think about those moments in your life…

For Peter, James & John it was an unexpected moment. Sure they had been called by Jesus to follow him, seen incredible acts, but now Jesus was transfigured before them, dazzling white before their eyes on Mount Tabor. Moses & Elijah are there too! This is that Kodak moment, to capture and hold on to. Let’s build three dwellings here, Peter said. But then the voice from heaven speaks and the three are fearful & fall to the ground until Jesus touches them and tells them to get up and all will be well. On the way down the mountain they are told to refrain from telling about this experience until after the death of Jesus.

That is the hardest moment, coming down from the mountain top. We all have to go down the mountain; we can’t live on that mountaintop. Life is down the mountain; our day to day experiences. The disciples knew it and so do we and it is there in our daily lives, that Jesus called his disciples and us to act. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it:
“God places us in the world as his fellow workers – agents of transfiguration. We work with God so that injustice is transfigured into justice, so that there will be more compassion and caring, that there will be more laughter and joy, that there will be more togetherness in God’s world.”
To be agents of transfiguration we can’t be content with the mountain top experience even as great as they are, for it is in those daily moments in our lives, lived in the valley, in good and bad times that we are to be those agents. Maybe a better way to think about it, is those wonderful mountain top experiences give us the impetus, the push, to be those agents of transfiguration, in a world in so need of change. We want everyone to feel what we have felt up there. Again in the words of Abp. Desmond Tutu:
“God asks us to be agents of transfiguration; the God who could transfigure an instrument of the most excruciatingly painful and shameful death so that it becomes the source of a tingling, effervescent, bubbling eternal life. To proclaim that nothing, no one, no situation could ever be untransfigurable. Nothing, no one, no situation is beyond redemption, is totally devoid of hope.

This God who could snuff out all troublemakers, does not dispatch perpetrators of evil, those who rule unjustly and oppress others. No, God waits, waits on us as those who will provide the bread and the fish so that God can perform God's miracles to end injustice and oppression, to end war, disease and ignorance.”
The miracles that will happen, will happen because we work with God to make them happen, when we share our bread and fish to a hungry world. I think of a traditional folk image from Vietnam. The image tells us the difference between heaven and hell. In hell, people have chopsticks a yard long so that they cannot reach their mouths. In heaven, the chopsticks are the same length—but the people feed one another.

We are to be those agents of transfiguration, to help people feed one another, to help people love one another, to help people see what can be. And it all begins with you & me. Remember your mountain top experience; remember the love, the hope, the sheer joy in it. Now be that agent of transfiguration & in God’s name share that love, hope, joy with all that you meet. Amen.

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