Monday, March 7, 2011

Sermon for Last Epiphany

Here is my sermon from this past Sunday. I welcome any comments or reflections. The scripture readings are here.
Sermon by the Rev. Kate Ekrem for March 6 2011 Transfiguration/Last Epiphany
If light has been our theme this Epiphany, today’s readings bring it all home. Moses encounters the devouring fire of God on the mountaintop, Peter talks about the lamp shining in a dark place until the day days and the morning star rises, and Jesus shining like the sun in the gospel.

In this Epiphany seasons, we’ve been talking about light, us being God’s light and salt,

sent into the world to share and show God’s love with all. Today the Epiphany season comes to and end and always on this Sunday we have the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus shown to be the ultimate light of the world, the one whose light we reflect.

It must have been a life-changing experience for Peter and James and John. So much so that I can
easily imagine Peter writing about it all those years later in our second reading from today. You know I tried this week to find scholarship indicating Peter might actually have written the letter 2 Peter, but apparently most scholars agree it was written by one of his disciples much later on. But apparently they too could imagine, maybe then even heard old Peter tell the story, of how they climbed the mountain with Jesus, and suddenly saw him not just as their friend and teacher, but revealed to them as God’s son, as the Second Person of the Trinity, shining as the light of the world, and heard God’s voice saying, “This is my son, the Beloved, Listen to him.” “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.” It’s easy to imagine that that experience would have changed Peter and affected his whole life. It certainly made him someone who reflected the light of God, the light of Jesus, in his own life.

This story asks some questions of us, if we also seek to be God’s light in the world. First, this experience for Peter and the others was part of their relationship with Jesus. It wouldn’t have happened if the weren’t his friends and followers, it was an experience of Jesus. He’s where the light comes from that we reflect. So how are you with Jesus these days? How is that relationship going for you? Some of us may be drawn to God or the HS, but as Christians we have a relationship with Jesus. Yes, even us Episcopalians. Are we letting the Jesus’ self-giving love fill our hearts so we can share that passionate love of Christ with the world?

Second, I think it asks us, how well are we listening? God says, listen to him. Did you notice in the first reading today, Moses sat there on the mountain for 6 days before God spoke to him. Would you wait 6 days for someone to answer your questions, even God? Are we prepared to wait, remaining attentive and open? Or do we get bored and anxious and need to rush to a decision sometimes? How much time do we give to silence and listening, in our world, and in the life of this community? How much of your own personal prayer life is silence and listening?

This is my son, the beloved, listen to him. If we are to be God’s light in the world, we need to drawn near to Jesus, God’s beloved, and listen. As Peter didn’t write but some other Christian did, “You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

I can imagine that this vision of Jesus shining on the mountaintop was a lamp shining in a dark place for Peter and the others, that this this vision sustained them and guided them during the long dark days of fear and loss in Jerusalem. It was a vision of reality, of the reality of God present with them, a vision of truth, a vision (dare I say it) of their core values and purpose. “This is my son, the beloved. Listen to him!”

A crystal clear moment of truth, of definitiveness. Maybe you’ve had one, when you knew, you just knew, who it was you wanted to marry and live with for the rest of your life, or what career you just knew you wanted to pursue with all your heart. Those moments don’t come all that often, but when they do they stay with us, they guide us long after they are over. Just so with this vision for Peter and James and John. They spent the whole rest of their lives living into this vision, this bright illumination of ultimate truth and purpose in the world.

What’s your vision? What have you seen with your own eyes? When you seek to be God’ s light in the world, when you reflect the sun’s rays, what is it, to you, that you’re reflecting? Where does that light come from for you? Was it a loving person who passed on to you a love for justice or love for humanity? Was it an experience of human connection, like a trip to El Hogar or a night spent in a homeless shelter that opened your eyes to your brothers and sisters? Or was it a vision like Peter’s, maybe a vision in prayer or a time on a mountaintop of your own. Lent is a good time to reconnect with these sources of God’s light in your life. Remember the person or the experience, revisit the mountaintop. We too can be transfigured by these experiences, transfigured into people who reflect the glory of God.

One of my favorite writes, Walter Wink, defines transfiguration in this way: “Transfiguration is living by a vision: standing foursquare in the midst of a broken, tortured, oppressed, starving dehumanizing reality, yet seeing the invisible, calling it to come, behaving as if it is on the way, sustained by elements of it that have come already, within and among us. in those moments when people are healed, transformed, freed... there the New Creation has come upon us.”

“You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

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