Posts Tagged ‘Get Up’

Be Risen 3-2-14

Today’s sermon comes from Matthew 17:1-9, which is the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration on the mountain. In the sermon I tackle the notion that Jesus invites us into many different things, and usually they end up scary…but through all of the scary situations, Jesus is always with us and lifts us up, telling us not to be afraid.

You can listen to the sermon her.

You can also read along with the text of the sermon here. As usual, disregard the indications to pause and the odd punctuations. There are also a few spots where I went off script, but don’t worry, I come back in pretty quick.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father…and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…Amen.
Being a farm kid, I’ve seen countless examples of some random item serving more than one purpose. Whenever something would break, my dad would rig up something to fix it…One example that really comes to mind was a time when the handle on our lawn mower broke. Dad took one look at it, walked into the shed, found a short length of iron pipe…and the next thing I knew…he had somehow fashioned that old water pipe into a connection for the handle of the lawn mower…and rather than have to go to the store and buy a new one, he pointed me back towards the lawn and said…Go on…finish up.
Have you ever seen something like that? Some random things that ends up serving more than one purpose…some random thing that ends up filling a role that you never expected or realized? (pause)
I can think of another one too…one that’s a little more current than a broken lawn mower 20 years ago…and its right across the parking lot. In the kitchen over in the parsonage, the refrigerator serves 2 important functions. The first is obvious…to keep food cold…but the second one is a little different. You see, in my house, the fridge is a communication center…It is littered with all kinds of important information. This information includes class information for the two kids, various photographs, weekly spelling lists, hand drawn masterpieces, and most recently…a wedding invitation for one of my colleagues who was just married yesterday.
There’s something special about being invited…isn’t there? It implies that the other person desires your company…they want you to be with them…to accompany them in some special experience…an experience that is so special, it needs to be shared.
There is an invitation in our Gospel for today. Jesus has invited Peter, James, and John to accompany him up the mountain. That raises the question…Did Jesus know what was about to happen? Perhaps…most likely even, but I’m guessing that the disciples were very likely unaware of what they were about to experience as they accepted the invitation and followed Jesus up the mountain that day.
Now this is a common theme within Matthew’s Gospel…particularly in terms of these three disciples. Jesus invites, they follow. For example, think back to the initial call of these three guys. Simple fishermen, just hanging out on the shores of the sea, when along comes Jesus who simply asks them “Follow me.” A simple invitation, and these three men along with Peter’s brother Andrew, accept the invitation. Do you think they really knew what they were getting into that day? (pause)
If we fast forward through Matthew, we see another situation. In this case, the disciples are in the boat in the middle of the night rowing across the sea…and we know its kind of stormy. In the midst of everything, Jesus comes towards them…walking across the water. Now, Peter…ever the excited or downright impulsive one…asks if he can come to Jesus…and Jesus, once again, extends an invitation. “Come.”
Now Peter thinks this is going to be amazing. He steps out of the boat…He’s doing it…he’s walking on the water…but all of the sudden, the truth of his situation dawns on him…fear creeps in along with doubt…the reality is terrifying and he starts to sink…but Jesus is there to lift him up again. Jesus is there.
Later on, towards the end of Matthew’s Gospel…Jesus offers an invitation to the same three disciples once again. Peter…James…John…come with me into the garden…Pray with me this night. They accept…not thinking that there will be any trouble…not realizing that Jesus has spoken of this time…that his passion is about to begin…and they follow along, so unaware of anything unexpected happening that they all three konk out…but once again…reality becomes much scarier than they had anticipated…and in the face of opposition, they run away from Jesus, who has been there with them the whole time.
Over and over again, we see examples of Jesus offering an invitation. Each and every time, the disciples accept the invitation. Now, perhaps they have expectations of what may happen each time Jesus invites them…maybe each time Peter pulls out the daily disciple itinerary and checks to see what God’s got up his sleeve…Let’s see Thursday evening…accompany Jesus to the garden for a time of prayer…encounter Judas and whole crowd of soldiers…Jesus arrested and soon to be killed…check…sounds good Jesus, let’s go.
Or perhaps not. Maybe these guys are just content to go along for the ride with Jesus. But regardless of what they may or may not expect…the reality is never what they expected. It’s a whole lot scarier.
We see this again in our lesson for today. The three men follow Jesus up the mountain and something extraordinary happens. Jesus is transfigured. Now, exactly what that means, we don’t really know, but it would seem that his divine nature is shining through the human nature. At this moment, both aspects of Jesus are visually present.
At first, the men seem to reveal in this vision. Peter, again the impulsive one, cannot hold his excitement and blurts out. “Jesus, this is wonderful…can we stay with you.” (pause) But then God…shows…up.
Peter, James, and John…good Jewish men that they were…finally recognized the significance. God is here…they are in the presence of the great I Am…like Moses did before them, they fell on their faces on the ground…terrified to the point of death.
When God shows up, it’s a scary deal. And maybe for these three guys on this day its even scarier than normal…because in this moment, having seen the divine nature of Jesus…in realizing the truth about just who he is…maybe they’re realizing that the guy they’ve been following isn’t just the son of God…but this…is…God…this is the one that Moses cowered in fear from…this is the one that drives them to ground in terror…and they’ve been casually walking around with him…joking with him…interacting with him.
And that’s a scary notion…to realize that God…the unfathomable God…this great being who is so far beyond our understanding or even capability to understand has become human…that the God who could in any moment snap his fingers and end our existence if he chose to was right here with you…as one of you…that’s a scary realization when you realize that the maker of the entire universe and everything in it is standing right next to you. (pause)
Have you ever had an experience like this? As I look around the room, I would expect some of you to say yes. Think about it…think about the time when you realized that God truly became a man…not some myth…not a burning bush…not just a voice booming out of the clouds…but that God became a person…and walked around…and not only that, but that this person…this Jesus…this tangible form of God…has invited you into something. (pause)
Now Jesus invites us into a lot of things…first of all, he’s inviting us into relationship…relationship with him…and through him, remembering that we are in relationship with God.  But the invitation of Jesus isn’t limited to that…sometimes…probably more often than we realize…Jesus invites us into some sort of specific experience…and while we might think we know what to expect…just like Peter, James, and John, we quickly discover that God’s got much bigger expectations than we do…and it often gets scary.
Now, for some of you sitting out there today…I know that you are facing some scary situations…that God is inviting you into a situation and you don’t know quite what will happen when He shows up…for some it might be the potential for a job change and the unknowns that come along with it…for others, its to walk the unknown road that follows a tough diagnosis when the ending sounds pretty bleak…and for others of you, most likely all of you…God is inviting you into something that might turn out pretty scary at times…because we all go through that.
And we don’t just go through it as individuals…but the church is going through it too…individual congregations go through it and the entire church is going through it. God is inviting the church as a whole, and our church of Underwood Lutheran to join him in becoming something new in our present reality…the church has been walking this road for a long time now…and we are here on the road as well.
Now I won’t stand up before you today pretending to know what God’s really got planned…that would incredibly arrogant for me say, but I do believe that God is leading us into becoming something new…the church is going to look different in the future…because the ways of spreading information are changing dramatically every day…but the message remains the same…
The church is the place where the gospel is proclaimed, the sacraments are shared, and absolution is offered…that’s the church…but I think we all know that old environment in which those three things were done is changing…and the audience for the gospel is changing…and the method of reaching the audience is changing…the church, contrary to popular belief…isn’t dying…like Jesus being transfigured on the mountain, its simply becoming something new.
But that’s scary to think about isn’t it?  Its scary to realize that God is inviting us to become something new…especially because we really don’t know what that looks like…we only know that we are here now…and that we have a God who is too amazing to hold onto…and that we have a God who will not be confined within these four walls…and that we have a God who is already out there…inviting us to come along on the journey.
It is my hope that we each accepted that invitation…and if you are anything like me…if your experience is anything like mine…Jesus…God… is scaring your socks off. Sometimes he leads us into places that we don’t want to go…we may think that we do, but once we are there…once we are in the midst and God shows up…the realty is terrifying for us.
But that being said…there’s one more part of our gospel story. Peter, James, and John are lying on the ground…terrified that they are about to die…but Jesus is with them. Throughout every terrifying experience that they have had…Jesus is with them…God…is with them. Perhaps this is why Matthew calls Jesus Emmanuel…God with us…because in each and every situation…terrifying though it may be…He is there…Jesus will touch you on the shoulder and tell you…Rise Up…and Do Not Fear.
And you know what…that word Rise up…Get Up…Be Resurrected…its not something that we do ourselves…Jesus lifted those three men up when he touch them…he gave them the courage to be raised from their fear…just as he himself was raised from the dead…it’s the same word…and we share it…in the midst of our fear, both the fears that we realize right now and the fear that will show up as we walk the road that God invites us on…God tells us to BE RAISED UP…resurrect as something new…We are not alone…scary though it may be to walk the unknown road into the unknown future, we have a God who has already been here…and who is still here…who lifts us up…So do not fear…Amen