“Changes”

Mark 9:2-9

Transfiguration of the Lord – 15 February 2015

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

Mark 9:2-9

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

 

Prayer.

 

There comes occasions in life

Where change becomes inevitable.

The confluence of age and circumstances,

Beliefs and values,

Faith and passion

Are all mixed together into one stew pot,

Placed on the oven,

And the burner is turned on to cook.

In time

The conversion from raw ingredients

Into a delicious dish is complete.

All that is left

Is for the cook

To make the change;

From stove to table.

Life came to a head and change became inevitable.

 

For my mother

Inevitable change occurred one day at the Malta Home

Where she was a teenaged orphan.

Her older brother, my uncle Dick, showed up

And offered to spring her from childhood bondage

And take her in at his home.

Should she stay or should she go?

Life came to a head and change became inevitable.

 

For my father

Inevitable change occurred when his naval ship was under attack.

Kamikazes had been unleashed

And it was his duty to take the watch in the middle of the battle.

If only Leyte Gulf wouldn’t swallow him whole,

He’d become a pastor, a preacher of the Gospel.

Like Jonah he attempted to avoid the inevitable

Until the age of 42

When he turned

And began the process to become a pastor.  

Life had come to a head and change became inevitable.

 

For myself

Inevitable change occurred one March day in Boston thirty-four years ago.

Between collegiate hockey games at the Garden,

My friend brought me to the seminary at Boston University

Where I looked up to see the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr.

God spoke.

It was time to leave the shore line behind me.

It was time to fish other seas.

Life had come to a head and change became inevitable.

 

Jesus had reached the point of inevitable change.

During this season after the Epiphany

Bookended with the words of God,

“This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

(Mark 1:11b and Mark 9:7b)

We have tasted a sampling of his Galilean ministry.

(We will return after Pentecost

for a more complete diet of Jesus and his Galilean ministry)

Over these past few weeks,

We have heard that

Jesus taught with authority in the synagogue.

He cast out demons.

He healed the sick.

He raised the dead.

Crowds had been attracted to him for obvious reasons.

Addressing one person at a time

The demand for his touch

Overwhelmed his ability to supply the world’s needs.

Change became inevitable.

 

God sent his Son into the world

That who so ever believed in him

Would be saved and inherit eternal life.

Jesus came to the world,

Not just to those who appeared at his door

Or who was lowered through his roof.

The tipping point reached its symbolic climax on that mountain top

When his face and cloths became dazzling white

And Jesus was transfigured right before their eyes.  

Jesus would leave Galilee for the last time.

He changed his life trajectory

And started out

On his final trip to Jerusalem.  

“Shush” he told them,

“tell no one about what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”

(Mark 9:9)

 

Jesus faced inevitable change

… suffered for it

… died on the cross for it

… rose from the dead for it

Because his deepest desire is to embraced you and me

With his love and grace.

 

There are many who look at Christianity today in America

And draw rapid conclusions

 - about churches, denominations, emerging generations -

And where all of this is headed.

Blogs are loaded full of

“5 Points of a Healthy” this

Or

“12 Signs of a Dysfunctional” that.

The transition from baby boomers to

X-gens and Next-gens

Is about as graceful or comfortable as passing a kidney stone.

Locally, we look at attendance trends,

We feel declining numbers of children and youth

In the deepest recesses of our bones.

Many will look at the aging faces of those in regular worship

And imagine an empty building in little more than 10 or 20 years.

We know change is inevitable,

We know it has to come.

And we are terrified.

 

We are terrified to take a step towards Jerusalem with Jesus.

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We are terrified to trust in him.

How are we able to trust

That he will lead us from the land of the dead and dying

Back into the land of the living?

How can we trust that Jesus will lead us

From scarcity and austerity

To a place where his Spirit abides with us and in us,

A land of abundance and harvest?

If Jesus is able to heal, cast out demons and raise the dead,

Why is it so hard for us to place our trust in him

For the revival of our church

And a renewed effort to expand God’s kingdom?

 

As we stand on the precipice of inevitable change

Ask Jesus to convert our terror into faith,

To change our doubt into belief,

To wash us clean of our pessimism and fill us with confidence

In God’s amazing grace.

We sing about it all the time,

It’s about time we believe it.

Let us pray that God uses this amazing grace

To embrace the inevitable changes that are coming

Personally, individually, to each of us

And to Christ’s Holy Church.

 

“What will the church of tomorrow look like?”

I can’t help but wonder to myself.

You’re probably asking yourselves the same question.

We all want to look into the future,

To know with certainty every possible outcome.

 

I don’t know where God is calling us

Other than to join with Jesus

And walk by his side.

Will this involve long range planning, and the creation of new vision and mission statements?

I don’t know about that; perhaps it will or maybe not.

Regardless of the technique

We will need to pay attention to discernment, devotion, prayer, and faithful living.

How we envision where God is leading will be revealed.

I will discipline my life.

Let us all discipline our lives

That God’s ways are made known to us.

 

I don’t know what the Holy City will look like when we get there.

That destination may be

A heavenly feast,

Thousands in Sunday worship,

Or the completion of God’s kingdom here on earth of justice and peace.

This is yet to be revealed.

But if this is where Jesus is going,

I’m going to follow.

Join me.

Let us follow his lead together.

 

I don’t know why Jesus would love you and me this much

To turn towards Jerusalem and face the inevitable,

But I do know that it is okay

To simply accept his love

And place every ounce of our trust in him.

 

If there was certainty,

It wouldn’t be called trust.

Place your trust in Jesus.

Let us overcome the fears of today

And embrace the inevitable change that is coming tomorrow.

Let us join in the journey with Jesus

That leads to his Passion, death, and resurrection.

Let us walk this lonesome valley with him to Jerusalem

Trusting in him,

Trusting his promise,

Trusting that he is bringing us home.

Amen.