Sermon Reflections and More!
(scroll down and check out all the links in the left column!)

The Transfiguration of Our Lord                                   February 7, 2016

This Weekend's Readings (click each reading to view the passage)

Exodus 34:29-35Psalm 992 Corinthians 3:12-4:2;  Luke 9:28-43a
Pr. Christine's Sermon: Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory
Pr. Christine's Sermon: Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory

Children's Sermon: Glowstick Jesus
Children's Sermon: Glowstick Jesus
Choir Anthem: Be Thou My Vision
Choir Anthem: Be Thou My Vision

Like us on Facebook

View our videos on YouTube

Follow us on Twitter

Sermon Notes from Pastor Christine...

There's this little diddy song that I love...
It goes like this:
Rise.  And Shine.  And give God the glory, glory.
Rise.  And Shine.  And give God the glory, glory.
Rise and Shine!  And!  Give God the glory, glory.
Children, of the Lord. 
What's not to love about that song? It's peppy.  It's fun.  It's about God and His glory.
On any given Sunday, we will sing loud and long, or quietly and insecurely if it's a song we don't know, of the glory of God.  In our songs, prayers, and readings the word 'glory' is used over and over again.
And on today, Transfiguration Sunday, one of the weirder festivals of the church, we really focus on and celebrate God's glory. 
"Jesus shone with glory.  Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus in glory.  Moses face radiated glory.  Elijah was whisked away in glory."
Glory abounds. 
For me this is an issue.  Not God's glory per-se, but what God's glory means.  In all my years speaking on God and glory I have never encountered a florescent face.
I also readily admit that not only do I take a little issue with the word glory, but also with the word "transfiguration".  It's a word we only use in church. Or in the Harry Potter books - a core curriculum class teaching the art of changing the form and appearance of an object.
So, what the heck do glory and transfiguration have to do with real life?  Are they even definable?  Sometimes as I start on these tangents of mine, I'm led down some strange paths.
Glory and transfiguration must be more than some type of spiritual Mardi Gras, just before we get into the somberness of Lent.  Is Transfiguration Sunday the time we toss glitter and beads and candy in the church?  That be a huge disaster? Trust me. I've glitter-bombed people before. It's a mess that isn't quickly cleaned up.    
Anyway, I looked up 'transfiguration'.  Know what it says? 
"A complete change in form to something more beautiful or spiritual in nature."  Did the Bible influence this definition or what?  I actually think it's a terrible definition. 
How did Jesus become more beautiful?   More spiritual?  I mean... this is Jesus we're talking about.  Can God become more beautiful, more spiritual?  Can God become more of God? 
Just adds to my confusion. 
And, well, 'glory' wasn't much better. 
I found 'luminous ring around Jesus' head'... Okay, I haven't had the privilege of seeing if Jesus actually wears a halo, but for some reason it seems a bit more flashy than what I envision his fashion sense to be.
Another definition I found was 'great beauty,' which I already discussed why 'beauty' seems a bit out of character, at least in relation to God. 
Additionally, as we prepare for the Superbowl this weekend, the word 'glory' has been carelessly tossed about. The Broncos and the Panthers are both seeking 'glory'. But, if 'glory' is defined as great beauty, that doesn't really hold water. Some football players might be hot, but they certainly aren't going to get more beautiful if they slip the Superbowl ring on their finger.
I searched and searched for something of real substance on glory.  Commentator after commentator just kept talking about God's glory on Transfiguration Sunday without ever saying what God's glory is or does or means...
And so, it feels rather insignificant.  If you can't tell me or show me what it means, then what's it's value? That is not to say that I believe God's glory to be insignificant, but rather we, as a church and as a society, have historically done a poor job explaining and recognizing glory.
However, God has done a staggering job enacting it. 
Twinkle and shimmer; glint and gleam are easy to see and easy to remember.  The Bible even attests to this. We remember this blinding Jesus and shinning Moses because they are so out of the ordinary.
But honestly...  This doesn't happen much.  Does it?  Angels dazzle sometimes.  Jesus dazzles sometimes.  Apparently even ordinary people dazzle sometimes.  But not that often. 
Or maybe I've just missed it. 
Because either God's glory only shows up in special circumstances... or glory looks and acts differently than we seem to think.
So, I thought I'd check out the Bible.  I know, I know.  A surprising place to look.  I had a professor in seminary who once said to us: Read the Bible, it sheds a lot of light on the commentators. 
I searched for the razzle dazzle moments in the Bible. I didn't find very much.  I did find enlightenment.  But twinkle and shine? Not so much. 
I scoured the passage for hints of what glory is beyond bright lights and neon lights and I couldn't help but laugh as I reread verse 45, which says:
"But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it.  And they were afraid to ask Him....".
The disciples are apparently not the only ones that have had the meaning of glory concealed from them.   And, of course they were afraid to ask him.  Wouldn't you be in that situation? Seriously.  They've all been enclosed in a cloud, terrified by a loud booming voice, and have seen a few ghosts from the past.

This is a Jesus like they've never seen before.
What began to illuminate glory in these stories for me is what Moses and Elijah chose to talk to Jesus about in this moment of glory: they talked to Jesus about his departure.
These are people who know all about departure.  About exodus.  About death and rejection.  About being led into places that few would choose.  There's a reason these guys are here.
Can you imagine that conversation?
We've got Elijah, a prophet who had great zeal for the LORD, who pleaded with the people to return to the LORD.  And well, many times his words just fell on seemingly deaf ears. 
And there's Moses - who led the people through the Red Sea, gave the people the Ten Commandments, and still...  the words fell on seemingly hard hearts.    
I can just see Elijah saying, "You know, Jesus old buddy, old pal... Let me tell you a bit about the glory of God.  See, this is they way it's gonna fly..."
And Moses interrupting him saying, "Remember when I led the people through the Red Sea?   How we went through death to get to life?  Well, buddy, it's gonna be that way with you...You'll drown leading the people from the shores of Jerusalem to the banks of Heaven. All the while the people will flail and thrash; kick and scream trying to save themselves. Yeah, Jesus, that the glory of God." 
That's the glory of God...
Drowning in the sea.... and suddenly you aren't.
Proclaiming there is another path... and everyone still goes the wrong way. 
Praying on your knees... and falling asleep even though you didn't mean to.
Loving as much as you possibly can... and you still end up hurting. 
Tumbling down a mountain into demons... and victory doesn't come easily.
Glory looks like that.
Laying your life down...To save another.
Hanging on a cross...and still forgiving and loving.
Glory looks like that. 
It's not that beautiful really.
But what God seems to be pointing to is a striking intermingling of departure and delivery, of mountain and valley, of death and life.  The distance between what goes on at the top of the mountain and what goes on at the bottom of the mountain - is not that far.
Jesus' clothes might have been dazzling on the mountain, but they were torn into rags at the cross.  Jesus' face might have shone on the mountain, but it was sweaty and beaten on the cross.
The Bible seems clear that glory isn't beautiful and it isn't luminous.
Now, I think it's fine for me to tell you what the Bible says, but on this Transfiguration Sunday - a day in which the disciples see God's glory, and the prophets see God's glory again, and the people down the mountain see God's glory, I thought maybe we should see God's glory too.
So, here's my magic trick for seeing glory:
Turn and look at a person sitting next to you.
Everyone should be looking at someone - if you need to group into threes, that's fine too. Now just sit there. Don't talk. Look at the person sitting across from you - that person is a reflection of the glory of God.
Sure, they aren't all glittering and shinning, but I can guarantee you that the person sitting across from has broken pieces and howling demons. And I can also guarantee you that through those fragments God shines. Despite all of our faithlessness God's glory appears in the people that surround us.
Ok... take one last look. Glory...
That was probably about as uncomfortable for many of you as Peter, James, and John felt on the mountain when they gazed upon glory.
The transfiguration changed the way the disciples saw Jesus and the way they saw God.  But that is not all.  That was undeniably glorious.  The cross too, changed the way the disciples saw Jesus and the way they saw God.  And that was glorious...
And together the transfiguration and the cross changed the way the disciples saw themselves. And that is glorious.
I have to be changed by God to see beauty in that which is not beautiful, to see life in the midst of death, to believe that hope will rise despite all odds.
God's glory is actually quite undefinable because it manifests in so many different ways - all you have to do is look around. Each of you are a glory of God. And a glory for God. The dazzling light of Jesus is revealed in you today.
So, Rise and shine.  And give God the glory, glory!