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“Staying Transformable”
Sermon, Year B, Transfiguration, February 15, 2015
Plymouth United Church of Christ, Eau Claire, WI
© Rev. David J. Huber
Focus Scripture: Mark 9:2-9

So I had this crazy thought this week. Thinking about the Transfiguration. Here we have Jesus up on the mountain. It takes a couple of disciples with them. Doesn't tell them why. Basically just says, hey come with me. We don’t know if this was typical for Jesus to go off with just a couple disciples at a time, or if this was a new thing. And why these? Why not one or more of the others? So they go up the mountain and there's this incredible transformation. Event. Happening. Almost a kind of performance art. A kind of flash mob event that only Jesus could pull off – one made up of Moses and Elijah.

Very much out of the realm of experience. I doubt any of the disciples had seen anything like this before. The text says that they were terrified. Outside of the realm of experience. The disciples see Jesus and he is glowing bright white. Brighter white than anyone could bleach. He’s glowing. There’s a bright light. And there also are Moses and Elijah. I don’t know how the disciples knew that was Moses and Elijah. They never would've seen pictures of them, they had been dead for hundreds of years. Well, Elijah wasn’t. He had been taken up into heaven while he was still alive hundreds of years before.

Incredible moment up on the mountain. Jesus appearing with these two important prophets from Jewish history. Moses the one who led the Hebrews out of Egypt. Elijah one of the great prophets during Israel’s existence. So important that he was taken up into heaven while he was still alive.

And so my crazy thought was this: what if that happened to us? What if one of us had that experience of being transfigured, or bring with someone to whom this happened? I’m assuming that none of you have that had happen. I haven’t. I would hope that as your pastor, if something like this happened to you, you would tell me.

What if that happened to you? What if one of us got transformed, transfigured, whatever word we want to use.

It would certainly be pretty crazy. Probably uncomfortable. It’s weird. This is not the kind of thing that happens in a sensible universe. But then, God is not always sensible. Gods does not always do the sensible thing. The Holy Spirit is not always sensible. Rarely, in fact, does God do the sensible. Very little of importance that happens in scripture happens in a sensible, orderly and proper way. God is most often doing what is not sensible, what is not orderly, what is not proper. The God of Surprises!

And so what if this happened to you? I’m thinking that Jesus knew this was going to happen. Maybe he didn’t. But he knew enough to go up the mountain, anyway. So imagine if you knew this kind of thing was going to happen to you, if you knew that you were going to go to the mountain and have this happen to you, getting transfigured transformed whatever, who would you take with you? Jesus brought a couple of his friends. Who would you take with you? Who would you want with you to witness this event with you?

A friend, spouse, a family member, your pastor? Someone from your past? A teacher, a mentor? Do you take the bully from work or school, that makes your life miserable, as a kind of “Hey, look at this – stop being a jerk.” Take someone that hurt you? Or do you take the people that you are closest to? A mix? Who would you take with you, if you had two, three, four choices?

And when you’re up on the mountain and you are going to be transfigured and have two people, supposedly dead, show up next to you, who would you want that to be?

For Jesus it was Moses and Elijah. Which I think we can take that to mean as a sign that Jesus is in that historical succession of prophets. That Jesus is in line with these two great and famous prophets from Israel’s history. We can see it as a kind of legitimizing event that put the stamp on Jesus, saying yes he is trustworthy. The voice also says, “This is my beloved son: listen to him.” Who would you have show up next to you while you’re radiating this bright light?

I think it would be awfully cool to have Jesus as one of those people. And then have one of the prophets that I really resonate with, like Jonah or Amos or Micah. But we don't have to stick with biblical figures. Would also be pretty cool to have my dad and my mom, or a grandparent and a parent. Or some others from the family who have died that I really connected with. Or maybe some of the people that taught me a lot about life, faith, how to be a generous and kind person. One person I think about, I’ve mentioned her before, is a neighbor lady, Evelyn Kettle. She had an in-ground pool, and when I was a kid she would invite all the kids in the neighborhood to come over every Monday in the summer to swim in the pool. She’d have a hundred kids. She was generous, created bowling leagues for kids because she felt it was important for children to have a place to go. She did a lot for her church. She was a big inspiration to me. Having her next to me would be quite a stamp of approval, to say that I am living, however poorly I do it, at least living into her model.

Maybe you opt for Right Shark and Left Shark...

Who would you have appear in place of Moses and Elijah? Maybe you are thinking of someone in your family who was a big influence on you. Someone who would be proud of the way you are living. Maybe a teacher or a mentor on one side, and on the other side, one of their teachers or mentors. That line of succession there. Or a great, great, grandparent.

Who would you have stand with you to witness, and who would you want to appear?

Maybe not such a crazy idea. But I’d never thought of this story in this way before. What if it were us who were being transformed?

We're going to talk during Lent about transformation, transfiguration, how God is working in our lives, how is God working in Plymouth, how God is working in the world, in the church. And how can we can work along with God, what God might be calling us to be as individuals, as community as a church. How can we be changed? How would we like to be changed? What can we do to bring change, to make the world a more loving world, bringing Jesus’ message to the world?

So maybe within these questions, the bigger question is simply, Who do I want to be? Who does God want me to be? Who do I wish I were? Or who am I growing into being? If we allowed it, what would God shape us into? Like the clay that you have had in your hands this hour.

And in all of this is the question, How am I going to invite God to be part of who I am? Do we bring God with us, or do we forget about God?

Because God can do miraculous things. It is good to have God with us, and that we do what we do, at least as followers of Jesus’, as a response to God’s love and presence in our lives.

And what is God saying inside of this process? Certainly God is saying “You are my beloved.” That is always there. But the rest of the call will be different for each of us. What is God saying to you? What is God saying to you on that mountain with whoever you brought with you and whoever has appeared next to you? What would you like God to say to you?

We are being formed and transformed. God wants to work in us. The Holy Spirit working in us to be God’s people. Like those pieces of clay that you've had in your hands, that you can mold and shape and turn into many things. But which still always remains clay.

But also, just like clay that becomes more and more difficult to shape as it dries out, so also with us. If we lose our moisture, God can't mold us if we dry out. If our spiritual disciplines dry out, it becomes harder and harder for God to mold us. We stay pliable by keeping our spiritual disciplines up, the disciplines of giving, of being in fellowship, or praying, of worshiping, of learning, of being invitational... part of our discipleship is to invite others to join us on this journey. To invite others into God’s realm. So if we don't do those, then we dry out and even God can do little with us. But if we keep up those disciplines, and Lent is a good time to remind us of those disciplines, and opportunities abound during Lent: our street ministry will still be going, our quilters will still be meeting doing service for others, we have the Wednesday noon and evening meals and fellowship time. Those are spiritual discipleship times. We will have opportunities to give, and lots of opportunities to invite. Keep up those spiritual disciplines and we stay hydrated and malleable, and God can do beautiful things with us. God can transform us more and more into God’s people and Jesus’ followers. And by doing all of that, we might just find ourselves being transformed. No, not might – we will! We will find ourselves being transformed. Amen.

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Plymouth United Church of Christ
2010 Moholt Drive
Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 54703

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