Thursday, February 23, 2012

February 19 Sermon

God of life, in a blaze of light on Mount Tabor you transfigured Jesus, revealing him as your Beloved Son and promising us a share in that destiny of glory. Let the beacon of that gospel pierce again the clouds enshrouding the earth, so that even in the darkness of times we may believe your day will dawn and your light will shine through us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

If we were to become like so many other places in our society we could sell ad space…

Today’s sermon is brought to you by, Clorox, get your clothes almost as dazzling white as Jesus on Mount Tabor with Clorox.  Or maybe we would have the priest and deacon look like athletes in Nascar, Tennis or Golf and we would have our sponsors emblazoned on our vestments.

Nah! But maybe as we end this season of Epiphany, of God being made manifest to our world, what God wants from us is what happened to Elisha and to Peter, James & John so long ago.

For God calls them & calls us to faithfulness, calls us to remember what has happened in the past to know that God is still active in our world today, transforming our world into what God has created it to be despite the darkness & the sin that pervades our lives. For God calls on us to be the light today.

In two of our readings this morning, we hear about the end of Elijah’s prophetic role and it being passed on to his disciple Elisha, and the Gospel of Mark tell us of the transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor to three of his disciples.

What is extraordinary about these events is not that the chariots that came to take Elijah away or that Jesus became dazzling white and Moses & Elijah were with him, its how these events propel the people onward.

Elisha doesn’t make a shrine at that spot, but takes on Elijah’s mantle and goes to be the prophet he was called to be.

Even though Peter wants to stay in the moment and build three dwellings on Mount Tabor, Jesus guides the disciples back down the mountain to continue their ministry.

It is as if God uses the moment to do something to catch the attention of the disciples so that they understand they too need to be transformed, to do what God calls them faithfully to do…
In Stephen Spielberg's movie War Horse, there is a great scene of transformation.

War Horse is a steed named Joey, raised by an English boy from a foal, he ends up on the desolate battlefields of France during World War I.

At one point in the film, a German artillery regiment has taken possession of Joey to haul the unit's heavy guns. During a shelling bombardment, Joey becomes free and immediately runs wildly across the scorched battlefield in a futile attempt to escape the shelling. In its panic, the horse gallops across No-Man's Land, becoming entangled and dragged down in the sharp barbed wire. The animal's flesh is cruelly torn and its leg hurt.

From his bunker, a British soldier sees the trapped and bleeding Joey. Waving a white flag, the Brit climbs over the top and bravely crosses the battle field to help Joey. On the other side of the field, a German soldier sees Joey and the Brit and comes to help with wire cutters. For a few minutes, the war seemingly stops as the two enemy soldiers work together to free Joey. The scene ends with the two men, who have developed an easy rapport and respect for one another, toss a coin to see who will take possession of Joey.

For a moment in the midst of the horrific battle, the plight of a brave, red bay brings together two enemies, who manage to shake off the animosities laid upon them and rediscover their humanity.
This scene from the movie War Horse is a moment of transformation. Despite the brutality surrounding them, two combatants are able to act out of the humanity the war has buried deep within them to save a helpless horse. We all possess that same kind of compassion within ourselves that can enable us to heal the deepest wounds and illuminate the darkest nights. Such love is the very life of God that the disciples see within the transfigured Jesus in today's Gospel. Such love is what Elisha experienced as Elijah returned to God.

Christ calls all of us who would be his disciples to let his love within us transform despair into hope, sadness into joy, anguish into peace, estrangement into community. The transfiguration reminds us that the light of God is still alive in the midst of darkness, that we are called to live into that light and transform our world. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it:
“God places us in the world as his fellow workers – agents of transformation [transfiguration]. We work with God so that injustice is transformed [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.”
On this last Sunday before Lent, we remember how God has acted in the past and believe in a vision of hopeful things to come, and in that way, hear a call to help change the world around us now. To understand that glimpse of the heavenly family and our place under God's embrace is not something to be waited for in some distant future, but that we in our way need to build up the kingdom of heaven by bearing God’s light to our world today. Amen.

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