Transcribed from the sermon preached February 7, 2015
The Reverend Max Lynn, Pastor
Scripture Readings: Luke 9:28-36
This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.
We hear that Jesus is about love, that God is love so often that I wonder if we really hear it. Ho Hum, ok, I get it, Jesus is about love. La di da. What else is new? Do we listen? Have you heard, in your heart? It is significant that Jesus is the Son of God and Jesus says to you, “I love you, you are beautiful!” Can you believe it? Are you listening? Do you have faith? Do you really know and understand that despite any perceived or real faults you may have, God does not stop loving you, God does not stop thinking you are at your core, beautiful? What keeps you from believing that this voice of Jesus is the voice of God, and if the voice of God, then all the other negative, derogatory voices, the voices of prejudice and hate and violence and fear that play our in the world and in our own minds is simply not nearly as relevant. Can you listen, take off your veil, stand in freedom and glow with the Holy Spirit?
Often we here of events like the transfiguration of Jesus and Moses coming down from the mountain and we exceptionalize them to the degree we think that if they happened today they would change everything and make it easy to believe. But here we see these revelations happen out of sight of the public and the disciples that were there were dazed and confused with sleepiness and where unsure whether to say anything about it.
Scott Hoezee in the lectionary commentary on the Calvin Seminary Center for Excellence in Preaching notes
“It is not what you would expect. But maybe behind these questions something of the core truth of the gospel starts to come out. Maybe the sleepiness of the disciples is emblematic for how often they had missed the glory of Jesus when it shined right in front of them day in and day out throughout Jesus’ ministry. The truth is that Jesus did not need visibly to glow to display glory. His glory shined—for those with eyes to see—just as brightly when he talked to lonely prostitutes and outcast lepers, when he saved wayward tax collectors and offered forgiveness to people who had never heard a forgiving syllable their whole lives long up to that point. The glory was there. “
I like Hoezee’s comments but I disagree with the implication that Jesus may not have actually glowed. When the Holy Spirit lights us up, we do glow visibly. I have seen it more than once.
Youth group backpacking: Junior high and freshmen girls. I gave them the packing list. The girls were upset that make up was not on the list, neither was a phone or Walkman. Some of them were truly bugged about it and even considered not going.
Now I am not making a blanket condemnation of make up and ipods. They have their place and uses. But why do we jump to them? Why are they so easy to become addicted to? Is it because we have been hurt? Been made to feel ashamed about who we are or what we look like? Or do they give us one up from which to judge others? Others have to be below us on the social totem pole or we are on the bottom right? Are they obligatory for someone who wants to be somebody? Have we been told in so many places that we need them to be beautiful, relevant, cool, and we fear that we might not be those things, and we don’t want to be found out, so we jump to them just the same? What if they see me? What if I see myself?
The first day’s hike up the mountain was tough, and with a bunch of first time backpackers, I heard non-stop moaning and complaining. After we reached our destination, a beautiful high Sierra lake, on the second day, the kids didn’t have to gripe about the hike. I set their boundaries as the mountain ridge above us and the perimeter of the lake, which gave them about a square mile of freedom. But they mostly stuck around close and talked about the food and music they missed, about getting eaten by a bear or meeting an ax murderer, and how ugly and dirty they felt, and how disgusting it was to not have a toilet to poop in. They made a pact that they would hold it in until they got back.
The third day things changed a little. Most of them couldn’t hold it anymore and found that going poop in the woods wasn’t the end of the world. Then small groups started to wander off, testing out their freedom, discovering things, having fun. They got to play with fire and swim in the lake and came back with excited with stories. The complaining disappeared.
The fourth day they woke up excited for another day, enjoying their newfound toughness and sense of adventure. Ana, the girl who had been the most upset about no make up came in from an afternoon of sun, fresh air, hiking and swimming and went off with some of the girls to bathe. She came back just lit up with fresh joy. Gone was the self-consciousness, the worry about being judged, the preoccupation with whether she looked or acted good enough to fit in. She literally shined. Someone said, “Ana, you look beautiful.” And she stopped for a second considering whether they were making fun of her, or kidding. But that tension just wasn’t there anymore, so she quickly smiled, a big bright smile like I had never seen on her, and she said, “I feel great.”
And all the kids looked great. And they all started talking about how good they felt, how tough they were, how much fun they were having. It was a transfiguration if there ever was one. Freedom was available on that second day, but they were afraid of it. The veil was still on. The old judges still hung around. But now the judgment was gone, the veil was off and they truly felt free.
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
Now when we receive the Spirit and taste that freedom we want to share it. We can see the power and beauty of God in others and in the world, and we want others to have eyes to see too. So we share the power of the Grace of Christ, and with the eyes of our heart enlightened, we seek to build others up. We want them to see their beauty.
For some reason fear narrows our vision, closes us up, makes us circle the wagons define who is in and who is out – and we want to make sure we are in. But what if we have the confidence and freedom to shine so that our shining faces and Spirit starts to light up those around us? By God’s grace we get a vision of the Kingdom and that hope gives us power.
I want to show you a video I spotted on Facebook last night. A young woman does an experiment where she gets kids and teachers from her school to come and be photographed. When they ask her why she wants to photograph them, she says, I am photographing things I find beautiful. Watch their faces and see if you see the transformation, the transfiguration on most of the people’s faces. Watch as their spirit is lifted up.
We really are free to be kind, we can choose to be alive with the Spirit like Jesus: forgiven, free, empowered to love. We are free to be lit up by the Spirit, lifted up, transfigured. Listen to Jesus. He is on to something powerful. Let the veil fall, stand up and be free.