Posts Tagged ‘Mark 9:2-9’

All Y’All 2-11-18

In this sermon, based on Mark 9:2-29, I explore the confusing situation of the Transfiguration. We don’t fully grasp just what went on, but that’s okay. We just need to remember to listen to what Jesus has to say to us.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/all-yall-2-11-18

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:

Grace and peace to you in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

In recent years, I’ve gotten a lot of experience in dealing with young people, particularly junior high and high schoolers…not to mention the fact that I’m raising a couple of kids in that range…and in that time, I’ve observed something that has now become a bit of a motto.  Every 15 year old is a moron…just try not to be much of a moron.

Namely, yes you will make mistakes, but try to not be stupid.  (pause) Now in recent history, there has been news of this “15 year old syndrome” spreading around…apparently the hip thing was to record yourself eating a Tidepod…one of those little packets of laundry soap…and then posting the video online.

I really hope that this trend has already played itself out…but if not…and you are considering the Tidepod challenge…don’t. Its stupid. And because of this I can’t help but think that Tide has been concerned about their image and that the marketing department felt the need to do some scrambling…and what better way to go viral in the positive sense…than to take advantage of the huge viewership of the Super Bowl…and with that, we saw commercial after commercial…situation after situation, all the way through the game when a working actor named David Harbour pops up out of nowhere to tell…Tide Commercial. No stains…bright colors…Tide Commercial.

And I couldn’t help but think that if Jesus was walking around these days and not 2000 years ago…this is what the scripture would say…And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white…such as no one on earth could bleach them…No Stains…Tide Commercial. (pause)

Super Bowl marketing aside, we find ourselves here at the end of Epiphany…and one last story of how Jesus is revealed to the world…the Transfiguration. We hear story at this time every year, just before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent…and it’s a familiar one.

Jesus grabs the big 3 disciples…Peter, James, and John, and they walk up a mountain, just the 4 of them…and up on that mountain…something unexpected and amazing happens…the transfiguration. Jesus is somehow changed…even his clothes take on dazzling appearance…Old Testament big wigs pop up…Moses the giver the of the Law and Elijah the greatest of the prophets…and they’re standing there talking with the Jesus.

Now I can only imagine what the three disciples must have been thinking in this moment…I can only think that it must have been incredible to witness…this amazing transformation that Jesus undergoes, even if its momentary…and honestly…I find myself a little jealous of what they witnessed. It must have something to behold…something amazing to see…something that honestly probably goes far beyond the ability to truly describe.

Now the authors of the gospels try to clue us in…this story pops up in 3 of the 4 gospels and they’re all pretty similar so apparently whatever it was that Peter and James and John experienced that day…whatever it was that they saw…this was the best that they could explain it.

But honestly…what happened? We don’t have a whole to go on do we? Jesus is somehow changed…his clothes get super bright…and 2 random dudes who should be dead pop up out of nowhere…That’s the transfiguration…that’s all the detail we’re given before Peter starts acting like Peter and starts blabbing, apparently succeeding in putting his foot in his mouth…because his words seemingly prompt God to show up…or in the very least for a thick cloud to overshadow them and the voice of God to come booming out all around them. “This is my son, the beloved…Listen to him.” (pause)

Now as we hear…whatever it is that’s going on, even before the cloud and the voice of God show up…its terrifying…and I’ve often times found myself wondering just what it is that Peter and the other two guys are experiencing…and honestly it can get a little frustrating that we’re actually given so little to go on.

Just what actually happened up on that mountain? (pause) This is a question that scholars have pondered on for 2 millenia…with many different attempts to explain it…ways to rationalize or to consider the few small details of this epic event that we are given in the narrative.

But admittedly, I’ve never found anything that adequately revealed just what went on…every explanation that I’ve come across…and honestly even some that I’ve tried to offer in the past…they all come up short…and I can only think that our language, and not only that but our ability to understand and comprehend will always be lacking when it comes to the divine…and I can only think that this is what was somehow happening on the mountain…that in this brief instance…in this amazing and yet terrifying situation, somehow the divinity of Jesus was shining through the human.

We don’t know what exactly that means…and apparently beyond referencing a tide commercial and the lack of human ability to produce the effect of what’s going on with Jesus…maybe that’s all we can say…that in this instance we are reminded that this man who was walking around…this man who could perform miracles…this man who possessed amazing authority was…in fact…God the son…The word made flesh…the creator of the universe and everything in it who has come among us as one of us…and for just a brief fleeting moment on top of a mountain…that divine eternal all-encompassing entity came shining through the man… (pause)

To call this moment a revelation of Jesus’ true identity perhaps goes without saying…but then we get divine confirmation when the voice of the Father booms out. This is my son. (pause) Transfiguration aside…that’s a big deal too…Jesus is only called the Son of God 3 times in Mark’s Gospel…and all three occur alongside something pretty incredible.

Jesus is baptized and we hear that the heavens are ripped open and the holy spirit lands upon him…and we hear the voice of God. You are my beloved Son…Here Jesus is transfigured, whatever that means….and we hear again, this is my son the beloved…and the third time occurs during Jesus’ crucifixion…as the sun has gone black for several hours and the curtain in the temple spontaneously rips in two…and the centurion standing there before the cross says Truly this is the son of God.

3 times…3 divinely empowered events…3 proclamations of the true identity of this man named Jesus…the beloved Son…but what makes today special…what makes the Transfiguration stand out among these 3 events…is that God also gives us a command.

Now we hear God say, this is my beloved son, listen to him…but its worth digging just a little bit…we pick up in the original language that God isn’t just talking to Peter in response to his bonehead comment about staying put and building tents to live in…God is talking to everyone…like if we were in Texas God would be talking to All ya’ll.

Like…All ya’ll listen up to what my sons got to say. (pause)
Now funny enough, Jesus doesn’t say a ton here, other than waiting until after he’s raised from the dead to talk about what has happened….but we do get a clue as to what we’re supposed to listen to…and its kicks off today’s reading.  6 days later. (pause) 6 days later than what?

If we back up in the narrative we find the exchange between Jesus and Peter when Peter calls Jesus the Messiah…and Jesus promptly lets him in on just what that means…that the messiah will be betrayed and killed but on the third day raised again…and Peter wigs out, rebuking Jesus before Jesus calls him Satan…that’s what happened 6 days before the Transfiguration.

But that’s not the only time we hear this message from Jesus. Right after this story, as they get down the mountain, Jesus cast a demon out of boy and then repeats the same message. The Messiah will be betrayed and crucified but on the third day he will be raised.

And not only that…but Jesus shares this message a third time. (pause) You’ve ever thought about the importance of repetition? That if something keeps popping up its probably worth listening to? Seems to the case with this message that Jesus proclaims…this message that he is the Messiah and that he will be betrayed and killed but that through his life and death and then his resurrection God is truly up to something new…something utterly different…something utterly beyond our ability to fully grasp and understand.

But we are given little glimpses aren’t we? Little bits in the scripture about the presence of the kingdom of heaven which has come near to us…and the promise that we have a place in it because of what has Christ has done. This is the message that he has come to proclaim…the message that he has come to embody…the message and the promise that he has come to deliver to each one us.

We are flawed broken people…utterly limited in our existence and our ability to comprehend and grasp things that are divine…utterly inadequate to fully describe moments when we encounter the divine before us…and yet, we are still recipients of God’s divine favor, shown to us simply because of God’s amazing, all encompassing, way bigger than we can fully understand, love for each one of us.

And through the life, and the death, and the resurrection of Jesus, the divine is taking action in our reality to show us that there is no length that God will not go to in order to be with us.

That’s the gospel…that’s his message to all the world…so All Ya’ll…listen to him. Amen

God WILL Be Seen 2-15-15

This sermon is based on Mark 9:2-9, which is the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. In the sermon I explore the confusing nature of this story, and go on to talk about how God will be revealed to humanity just not in the way that we might expect.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/god-will-be-seen-2-15-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
For any of you sitting out there today that have spent more than about 5 minutes with me…it will come as no great shock that I’m extraordinarily extraverted. I love people…I love interacting with people on many different levels…but on the flip side, there are moments when I also need to be by myself…just to sit and be.
Some of you have heard me talk about this as well…how my daily ritual involves taking the kids over to school and then before crossing the parking lot to the office I grab a cup of coffee and sit in the living room for a few moments. Now over the course of the past couple of months, with the days shorter and the sun far to the south, my spot in the chair has been pretty dim. But just the other day, I sat down in my chair and discovered to my delight…that as we inch towards spring, the sun is moving back into my line of sight.
As I sat down in my chair…I looked out the big picture window that faces east…and got the full blast of the sun in my face…and it…was…glorious. I instantly felt my face warm up…and I just felt content…but…I couldn’t see anything. Because as wonderful as it felt…I was blinded by the light…that life giving light from the sun. (pause)
And in that moment, as I was basking in the blinding glory of the sun…I felt like Peter…basking in the life giving glory of God’s son in today’s story. (pause) Today’s story features the transfiguration…a moment in the gospel when three of the disciples catch a glimpse of the divine within the man. (pause)
Now our story starts off with a bit of a strange comment…that its 6 days later…ummm okay…well 6 days later than what? And actually, this is a really important question to ask…because if we shift backwards in the story, we find an important exchange between Jesus and Peter…Jesus has asked who the disciples think that he is…they’ve been together for a long time at this point…and in a Spirit-inspired moment…Peter makes the ultimate confession…Jesus…you are the Messiah…but up to this point…all anyone knows about Jesus is that he’s human…truly he’s got some remarkable God-given abilities…but he’s human. (pause)
And now 6 days later…Jesus heads up the mountain…and he brings Peter along with James and John…and in this unique moment…they discover the ultimate truth about Jesus…about the one that Peter has called the Messiah…when Jesus is transfigured before them. (pause)
Now here’s the thing…the transfiguration is kinda hard to figure out….what does it really mean anyway…when Jesus is transfigured? Honestly we don’t get a ton of detail…the original languages gives us just a tiny bit of insight…as we hear the word metamorthey…or metamorphosis as we commonly know it…Now metamorphosis indicates change…a new form…a new appearance…and anyone who has seen the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly knows that this is a permanent change…but just what it is that changes about Jesus’ appearance we don’t know…we don’t hear…and really the only other notion of just what’s happening that we hear about is that his clothes become dazzling white…such as no launderer on Earth could make them. Umm…okay…so apparently this is a white that goes far beyond our comprehension of bright….but that’s all the detail we get.
And so, if you’re anything like me…and you try to wrap your head around just what it is that the three disciples actually witnessed that day…perhaps you find it a bit of a head scratcher…this moment when the divine shines through the human. (pause)
Now I’ve heard a lot of different sermons on the transfiguration…I’ve even preached a few myself…and often times preachers will try to explain it away…they’ll try to help people understand just what’s happening…just what’s being revealed…but you know what…maybe…just maybe we aren’t supposed to understand just what’s going on here…the three disciples sure didn’t…and they were the ones who saw it…maybe what they saw goes far beyond our human ability to comprehend…because not only was Jesus changed…and his divine spotlight turns on….but in the same moment Moses and Elijah show up…the two men that tradition tells us represent the law and the prophets…the guiding principles of Jewish life and tradition are standing here in conversation with the messiah who’s ultimate nature is blinding the very people that he brought with him to see it. (pause)
Crazy huh? That Jesus had actually invited these three guys to come along…and witness this event…this event which did nothing but confuse them…and we know it confused them…because Peter…the very person who had made the ultimate confession of Jesus’ identity, calling him messiah…is now unable to comprehend just what the heck is going on…and promptly puts his foot in his mouth. (pause)
But as Peter makes this statement…Lord its good to be here…let me throw up some tents for you and Moses and Elijah and we’ll all just camp out here for awhile…he’s simply trying to allow himself the time to figure out what’s happening…I’m guessing James and John were probably thinking the same sort of thing…but they don’t get that chance do they…because the instant that Peter starts blabbing…God interrupts…with a cloud that envelops them…that utterly surrounds them…what I can only imagine to be the thickest fog that any person has ever experienced…and their vision is cut off…and the blinding nature of Jesus’ divinity shining through…is cut off…and only then, does God reveal the truth of Jesus identity. This is my Son, the Beloved.” (pause)
And in that instant…when the truth of his identity is revealed by God, the vision is over, but Jesus remains. (pause) Now we don’t know if the transfiguration…the change…the metamorphosis is permanent or not…does he still look different? Are his clothes still blindingly white? (pause) We don’t know…the gospels don’t tell us…and so we come back around to the confusion of the transfiguration…and so maybe, just maybe its okay if we give up on trying to explain it…to understand it…and simply accept that it happened. (pause)
But if we’re gonna do that, then we have to ask the question of just where do we go from here…and perhaps the best answer to that question is to follow the direction that God gave us…This is my son…listen to him. (pause) And what does Jesus say? (pause) Don’t tell anyone about this until the Son of Man has risen from the dead. (pause)
Weird huh? These three guys have just seen something amazing…something that they can’t comprehend…that they can’t understand…you’d think that the first thing they would do would be to talk about it…to try and makes heads or tails of what they have just experienced…but they can’t (pause)
And they can’t…because God hasn’t really been revealed yet…yes it seems as if the divine nature was shining through the human…but we can’t comprehend it…its too much for us…we’re blinded by it just like I was blinded by the sun the other morning as I sat with my coffee cup…the divinity of the Son is blinding to our limited human understanding. (pause)
But if the story of the transfiguration teaches us anything today…its that God WILL…be seen by us. God WILL be revealed to humanity…and the truth of Jesus’ identity…of Jesus’ divinity will also be revealed…but not by sight…because its too much for us.
Peter James and John learned the truth…once the fog rolled in and their sight was cut off…because we don’t see the identity of Jesus…we don’t see God in plain site…its too much for us. (pause) But God will be revealed through Jesus…just not quite yet. (pause)
Today is the last Sunday of Epiphany…three days from now is Ash Wednesday…the beginning of Lent…as we embrace the darkness and begin the dark journey towards the cross…and that is where we find Jesus…that is where we discover God.
Jesus told the 3 disciples not to talk about this experience until he had been raised from the dead…because the truth of God…this God who WILL be seen…is revealed in the darkness that fell as Jesus was hanging on that cross…the darkness that fell as he died. (pause)
This God…our God…this God who WILL be seen is not revealed in plain site…our God is revealed when he shows us that there is no length that he will not go to for us…even to the point of death…and even beyond it. (pause)
So today remember this…we have a God who chose to set aside all traces of divinity and take on flesh as one of us…and there were moments when that divine nature came blasting through in ways that blind us…that go far beyond our ability to understand. So don’t look for the divine to be revealed in plain site…rather, we find the divine…we find the presence of our God in the midst of the darkness…in the midst of pain…in the midst of suffering…and in the midst of death…because our God chooses to enter into it to in order to reveal himself to us.
And we need only to look back at our story today to confirm this…because in the midst of all that happened on the mountain…every confusing bit of it…every blinding instant…Jesus was with them…and when it was over…and they were trying to make heads or tails of what just happened…Jesus was still them…and when they journeyed towards the cross…Jesus was with them…and then after he died, he rose again…and he did this to show them that in the midst of everything, even death and whatever lies beyond it…that Jesus…that God…is with them…and we hear it today so that we know the same truth…that God…is with us. Amen.