February 18-19, 2012
Jesus is transfigured.
His clothes become dazzling white.
The glory of the Lord shines all around him.
And the disciples are terrified.
They don’t know what to say,
but Peter says something anyway…
“Let’s take a group picture!
Jesus, you stand in the middle,
Elijah on the left – yes that’s right.
And Moses can you move in a little closer?
Okay, everybody smile!”
What does one do when one encounters the glory of God?
We’ve skipped several chapters in Mark
To take us to this reading for Transfiguration weekend.
It’s six days later…
Six days after Jesus had said that the Son of Man would suffer,
Would be rejected, and killed,
All before he would be raised.
This experience on the mountain didn’t look at all like the suffering and death Jesus talked about.
It looked a lot more like what they were hoping for though.
Glory, majesty, and power all wrapped up into one moment!
A Kodak moment.
A moment of glory for the scrapbook.
We all want to remember such moments of glory.
On Thursday night the Gettysburg girls’ basketball team had their moment of glory
as they defeated Trinity in an exciting game
that brought them the Mid-Penn tournament title.
Why can’t all seasons end like that?
There’s a Peanuts comic strip that I might have shared with you before.
Lucy says to Charlie Brown, “Sometimes I get discouraged.”
And Charlie Brown wisely answers, “Well Lucy, life does have its ups and downs, you know.”
Lucy responds, “But why? Why should it? Why can’t my life be all UPS?
If I want all UPS, why can’t I have them?…..
Why can’t I just move from one UP to another UP?
Why can’t I just go from an UP to an UPPER-UP?…..
I don’t want any Downs!
I Just want Ups and Ups and Ups and Ups!”
Why can’t all seasons end with a tournament title?
Why can’t Jesus’ life be all glory?
Why can’t he just move from one glory to another glory?
Why can’t he just go from glory to a glorier glory?
I don’t know – next week maybe he could climb a mountain
and not only would Elijah and Moses be there,
but also Sarah and Abraham,
and Rachel and her children who had been thought to be no more – but there’d they be,
and the whole heavenly host too!
Singing to God and praising!
Why can’t that be the way things happen next?
But instead of climbing up another mountain next week,
we begin a journey down.
On Wednesday we begin the season of Lent.
We travel down the mountain of transfiguration
and will eventually be led to a very different mountain – the mountain of crucifixion.
In the meantime, we pause today to reflect on the glory of God shown in this moment,
On the mount of transfiguration.
Now some have said that maybe Jesus wasn’t really physically changed,
That the brilliance of his clothing and face, the glory that appeared was there all along,
But Peter, James and John just hadn’t seen it before.
Is it possible that throughout those days of following him,
of walking the paths along the wadi,
of sitting over those simple meals of fish and bread,
of talking over passages of Scripture,
is it possible that they hadn’t noticed God’s glory?
I think it’s not only possible, but probable.
Because Peter, James, and John were human and weren’t so different than we are.
And because I know that many, many times,
we get so busy in the ordinary things of life, that we don’t notice God’s glory either.
The people who seem to notice God’s glory all around us the best
Are not pastors, or Sunday School teachers, or Bible study leaders.
They are children.
Children have a way of noticing the wonder of God.
Many of you know one of our members, Jim Dunlop.
Jim and Julie have two young children – Addy and Sam.
As Jim started to hear Addy and Sam make their own observations about God,
he started writing them down in a blog he’s called, “The Growing Dad.”[i]
He gave me permission to share with you one of his entries today.
It’s an entry in which daughter Addy notices God.
Last night, after supper, my 3 year old daughter Addison and I take our dog for a walk. Our son, Samuel is tired and so Julie decides to stay home and get him ready for bed.
Addison is currently in the stage in life where she must question everything (I understand from friends with older children, it takes many years to grow out of this). Everything you discuss with her garners a “why?”
As we walk past a neighbor’s home, Addy notices something out of place and so the questions begin:
“Daddy, what is that?”
“It’s a hose caddy for their garden hose, sweetie.”
“Why is it upside down?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why did they put it like that?”
“I don’t know.”
“Why is it upside down?”
Again: “I don’t know.”
A few moments pass and I assume we are on to the next thought.
Lately, Addy has been asking a lot about God and Jesus. She loves her Sunday School class and always participates in the Children’s Sermon at church each week. This of course generates an ongoing series of questions and conversations.
“Daddy, do God and Jesus know everything?”
“Yes, sweetie. God knows everything.”
As I often explained of late: “God knows all that we do. God is with us all the time.”
“Where is God?”
“Sweetie, God is everywhere.”
“Is God here right now?”
“Yes, I believe God is here right now. You can’t always see God, but sometimes you can feel God.”
With that Addison immediately starts “feeling” the air with her hands, almost as if she is petting a large animal that is walking next to us. “Daddy, I am feeling God right now,” Addy tells me. “Yes, you are feeling God.”
Now we walk nearly half a block from the upturned hose caddy. Addison is quiet for a moment and then:
“God!” She calls loudly. I smile to myself.
“God!” She calls louder. I can’t help but laugh a little
“God!” She calls even louder. Now we’re walking through the neighborhood. Anyone listening now will assume that Addy is taking the Lord’s name in vein, but she is calling him. I am giggling.
“God!” She shouts for a final time. I tell Addy: “God can hear you Addy, don’t worry.” With that, she comes out with:
“God, why is the hose caddy turned upside down?”
The glory of God is all around us,
And yet only a few seem to notice.
And a good proportion of them happen to be children.
Now I’ve never had kids, but I’m told that it’s not all glory.
It’s not all ups and upper-ups.
There are plenty of down times as well.
There are temper tantrums and snotty noses and scraped knees and hurt feelings.
There are a lot of times to come down the mountain.
But for today, on this transfiguration weekend,
Before we move too quickly down,
let us take a moment to become childlike – to become Peterlike – and notice the glory.
Today, let’s call out “God!” “God!” and be assured that God’s presence is all around us.