Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
My message today will be brief, so that there will be time for Joseph Ewoodsie, Mission Coordinator of the New York Annual Conference, to bring us up to date on the Dorcas clinic Project.
It is Transfiguration Sunday. This is a day we remember an odd event that comes in the middle of the Gospel story. Jesus takes Peter and James and John aside from their busy work together and leads them up a high mountain.
On that mountain, in a dazzling moment, they see him in a vision, his clothes blazing white – beside him they see the ancient ones: Elijah and Moses, the great prophets of early Israel. Then they heard the voice of God, “This is my son, the beloved, listen to him.” The disciple think that they will be staying on this mountain for a long while. They make plans to build shelter. But before they can settle into this glorious scene, the vision disappears, and they are on their way down the mountain.
One moment they are seized by a vision of glory, and the next moment they are once again surrounded by desperate people demanding help – “Jesus! my child ! Help my child! “Teacher! My wife! Help my wife!” “My friend! Please stop, my friend is paralyzed – help us!” The Transfiguration is a brief moment of spiritual ecstasy – a glimpse of glory – and then it’s back down to earth, back to everyday reality.
A question: what goes on inside you during the worship service on Sunday mornings? In worship we listen to the spoken word. We speak the words of the liturgy and sing the songs. We drink in the music. At the same time, our minds are sifting through the recent events of our lives, especially the things we are anxious about. And as we are doing these two things, contemplating our own lives and participating in this event of worshiping together, we open our lives to some surprise. Somewhere in the interplay of our lives and the Act of worshiping together we open our lives to some new thing.
In every time of worship there is an opportunity for new insight, a new excitement about life, the chance of a burst of hope. These things are sometimes subtle and fragile, so we come back again, Sunday after Sunday, to open our lives to the whatever surprises the Holy Spirit may have in store for us.
The Holy Spirit may speak to us in prayer, in a song, in the rumble of the pipe organ in our bones, in a word of Scripture, in a moment in a pastor’s message , or in the taking of communion. However it comes to us, we receive something that we take away with us as we cope with the challenges of the week ahead.
Today we have heard splendid and soulful music. We have heard the ancient words of Scripture. We have shared signs of peace with one another. We will soon hear Joseph’s report and see the images he has brought of a place and of people far away living in circumstances vastly different than ours – yet people are joined with us in a particular ministry of healing and compassion.
It is a privilege to be able to share these things. And in sharing them we never know when the Holy Spirit may speak to our hearts, release some pain locked in our hearts, inspire our compassion, or give us some fresh excitement for the journey of life ahead.
May the Holy Spirit surprise you, even this day.
Grace and peace to you.