Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Trqnsfigurqtion of Earth

Last Epiphany+A+2014        2 March  2014       Fr. Robert RM Bagwell+          Exodus 24:12-18                                                                                                  Psalm 99 
 2 Peter 1:16-21                                                                                               Matthew 17:1-9

An antique dealer was speaking with one of his clients and remarking that he had found an old Bible printed by some guy, Gutten… something.  The client exclaimed Guttenberg! that's the first Bible ever printed!  One just sold for a million dollars!  Oh, I don't think that one would have such a value.  It was written all over the margins by some guy named Martin Luther……

Perhaps we don't realize what we have until it's gone.  Surely the disciples today could express such sentiment! Today we experience the disciples of Jesus as they experience such an event.  Why is this event so important that it has been celebrated in the church for centuries?  It is a day that draws a clear line in the sand. 

The transfiguration says clearly that Jesus is the Messiah; that no matter how seemingly good, or meritorious other religions may seem, this Jesus is the Areal thing@. Jesus, in a profound act of love for the inner circle of disciples, Peter, James and John, includes them on the final. check, the final Ago ahead@ for the mission.  He includes them as God gives his blessing to the mission and they see for a moment the glory of God shining out from within the very person of Jesus.  This glory of God, the Hebrew word, Ashekinah is what God wants to place in the souls of the human race.  That glory that was lost to us by the sins of our first parents; that restoration of the wholeness and completeness of that image of God that he has bestowed upon each of us.

I.                   Websters dictionary defines transfiguration as an exalting glorifying or spiritual change.
A.                A church growth consultant that I read a few years ago spoke about what it is that the church is selling. What is the product if you will that we offer to the world?
B.                 We offer an exalting glorifying and spiritual and life change. 
1.                  Life change!  If our lives are not beginning to change to be conformed more and more to the image of Christ, then we are missing something.
2.                  That is partially why we live together in this body that Jesus both established and paid for with his own blood, this body he calls the Church.
That was it about Paul=s experience, the experience of the other disciples and all of those who so freely abandoned Judaism and other religions in those early years and caused them to follow Christ.  It was the power of transfiguration. 

a)                 St. Francis de Sales once said. We cannot help conforming ourselves to what we love.@  It has been an experience over the ages that as people come to really fall in love with Jesus the Son of the living God, they change.

II.                Today the disciples experienced a transfiguration experience. It is this reading today from which we get the colloquial expression, a mountain top experience.
A.                What is the Transfiguration?   It is an event which nothing else in the Gospels even remotely resembles.  It is both inward and outward for the disciples.
1.                  It is the "epiphany" that closes our season of Epiphany. The manifestation of God in the person of Jesus.
B.                 The word in Greek is metamorpho metamorphosis translated to Latin transfiguratus, transfigured: 
1.                  Perhaps you heard the word in biology class?  Probably our most familiar use is with the caterpillar who after the cocoon becomes the magnificent butterfly!  It refers to the real essence of a thing. 
2.                  We sometimes say "God sees our hearts" and indeed he does.  Our hearts are the REAL person that we are. 
C.                 When Jesus was "transfigured" before the disciples, the glory that is God was manifest. . The transfiguration says clearly that Jesus is the Messiah; that no matter how seemingly good, or meritorious other religions may seem, this Jesus is the Areal thing.
1.                  This glory of God, is the Hebrew word, Ashekinah is what God wants to place in the souls of the human race.  That glory that was lost to us by the sins of our first parents; that restoration of the wholeness and
 completeness of that image of God that he has bestowed upon each of us.

D.                Perhaps you've heard of the "shekinah" the Kabod, the glory of God.  It is the glory of God manifested in the Testament whenever the Spirit of God appeared or through those whom God acted.  It is the essence of God manifested to humanity.  It is like someone with cataracts having them removed or John Newton writing Amazing Grace: "was blind but now I see!" 
1.                  John speaks of Jesus as the Light in John chapter one. The angels announced his birth with shekinah to the shepherds.  It signifies,  it means "the dwelling" as in God dwelling among humanity. 
a.                   It means to reveal the true nature of a person; who they really are.  It is like one having cataracts removed they suddenly see clearly.
E.                 The Transfiguration is a view behind the scenes of God=s productions.
1.                  But this is not an illusion or special effects.
a.                   Moses, who gave the Laws given to him by God and Elijah, greatest of the prophets supporting all that Jesus is doing and about to do.
b.                  It prefigures the second coming of Christ in glory
(1)               The glory of God is present in the cloud just as at Mt. Sinai when Moses received the Law.
2.                  Today we see Jesus as the creed says Light from Light.

III.             In the Jewish Law and in both testaments it is written  and here quoting the words of Jesus,  " every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."  (Matt 18)’  At the Transfiguration are Peter and James and John: the law fulfilled!  This is why Peter could later write: "we did not follow cleverly devised myths".  He had witnessed the miraculous signs from the catch of fish when he met Jesus, to the Ascension when Jesus was received into heaven.
A.                The voice of the Father is heard almost sharply saying:  This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!

1.                  Were there any more doubts about just who this was? It was this experience that the disciples would cling to as they say the Son of God crucified.  It was this experience that perhaps gave them the courage to face what lay ahead during the first Holy Week.
2.                  "Listen to Him"!  And in our age when there are thousands of voices clamoring for us to listen, let us make time to LISTEN to the voice of God's Spirit in our hearts.   
B.                                      The Transfiguration is a reminder that our faith claims Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. It proclaims Him as the fulfillment of Judaism. The transfiguration is a defining moment for us if we would enter into the heart of God through Jesus the Messiah. 

I.                   What was God doing in this event?
A.                I believe He was galvanizing the faith of the inner three.  Have you ever seen those previews in movie theaters before our featured presentations?  They give you a peek of what is yet to come!
1.                  After this event, that shows IHS to be superior to Moses and Elijah, the Law and the Prophets. Can you imagine their doubting His mission, even if outward circumstances seem to deny who he was?
a.                   So that later they would not lose hope or faith when the time of testing came.
2.                  God=s Epiphanies are all around us, yet most of the time we don't see them. Life goes on, God is around  us, but most of the time we take him for granted. We forget the light, the  transfiguration, the power and glory of Jesus Christ. We seldom see God's  glory in the world because we do not look or expect it.
a.                   Each Sunday God is transfigured in this Holy Eucharist, this Holy Communion..
B.                 Each Sunday God gives us the opportunity to see Christ in the person in the pew beside us as they are transfigured by his grace.
1.                  It has been said that if we could see the reality of Jesus Christ in those other brothers and sisters in Christ around us that we would be tempted to fall down in awe and worship before the reality that is.
2.                  One of my favorite Bible verses it found in 2 Corinthians 4:6 It reads: "For God you said 'let light shine out of darkness' has caused his Light to shine in our hearts to give the knowledge of his glory I the face of Christ.
In this country, people are desperate to find love at its core.  People are desperate for meaning. And Jesus Christ is meaning itself.  Once that intimate, loving, passionate and accepting, forgiving and long-suffering Savior has taken root in our souls, we will begin that wonderful process, that painful process, that long process of becoming transfigured in His light.  But then, that Divine Light will shine through us to others and they may see Jesus Christ and be drawn to him as in our hymn "I want to walk as a child of the Light"

In the collect today, we prayed: "O God, who before the passion of your only­ begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. Let this be the prayer of our lives each and every moment of every day.

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