Monday, February 11, 2013

Thoughts on Last Epiphany

Thoughts from the Sermon I would have given...

You can find the Lectionary Readings here:

My thoughts:

Exodus tells us that “Moses came down from Mount Sinai, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” When I hear this, my picture of Moses is… George Hamilton…the glow…(and if you don’t know who he is, never mind…)

The real truth of course is that encounters with God change people. Jacob wrestled with God, got a hip injury and was renamed… Moses received the 10 commandments from God, and he glowed from the encounter, and he constantly veiled his face with the Israelites because he glowed so much from those encounters & they were afraid.

Peter, James & John on the Holy Mountain had a most extraordinary experience with Jesus. Before them Jesus was transfigured… he glowed like pure white (better than Clorox!) and with him was Moses and the prophet Elijah… and Peter was so into the moment he wants to capture it, remain there, but this experience would lead them onward, down the mountain, back into life, on the way to Jerusalem.

This experience we have with God changes us…

The epic film & musical Les Miserables, based on the Victor Hugo novel, is a story of grace and redemption and transformation.

After spending 20 years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread, Jean Valjean is paroled but he is a bitter man. He is desperate for work but no one will hire a parolee. Cold and hungry, he is taken in by a kindly bishop. During the night, he steals the bishop’s silver plate and flees, but he is quickly caught by the authorities. Valjean is brought back to the bishop’s residence but the bishop explains that he gave Valjean the silver, and that he had forgotten the silver candlesticks, as well….
Valjean is stunned by the bishop’s extraordinary kindness and forgiveness. The bishop only asks Valjean to use the silver to re-create his life and return God’s goodness to others. “God has raised you out of darkness,” the bishop blesses Valjean. “I have bought your soul for God.”
It is a moment of transformation for Valjean, who rediscovers within himself the love and mercy that led him to steal that original bread for his hungry niece. As he turns the cache of silver into a fortune that will benefit many, Valjean comes to realize that “to love another person is to see the face of God.”

The kindness of the bishop is a moment of transformation for Valjean: for as the three disciples behold the divinity that radiates from the vision of Jesus on the mountaintop, and Moses encounter leaves him glowing, so Valjean realizes that inside him an ember of God’s goodness has continued to burn despite his two decades in prison. Through the Bishop, God touches Valjean’s heart & his life is transformed.

That same touch of divinity exists within each one of us, as well: God is present within us, moving us by the Spirit to do good and holy things; guiding our steps as we try to walk justly and humbly in the ways of Jesus and our God.

The challenge of our discipleship is to allow the love of God within us to “transfigure” despair into hope, sadness into joy, anguish into healing, estrangement into community. So that the light of the world can change us and shine through us, even in dark or snowy/icy days. Amen.

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