Lectionary Year A
February 10, 2002

Matthew 17:1-9
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) If the Transfiguration seemed a mystery, an awesome ambiguity, a frightening obscurity to the disciples Jesus chose to take to that mountain, how can it get any clearer for us today? Let's try to put ourselves there with them that day. That strategy might help us deal with such a Christ as was there transfigured among dignitaries of other ages.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) Any congregation willing to consider seriously the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ could appreciate a sermon from this pericope.

C. Contemporary Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Christ, Then and Now, There and Here, Too" or "You Are There"

The frontice page of volume one of Thomas Merton's journals (Run to the Mountain), quotes Dante's Purgatorio, "Run to the mountain; Shed those scales on your eyes that hinder you from seeing God." Good advice. Let's do it. Or, have you already done so? Were you there that day? Up there on that mountain with Jesus, Peter, James and John, were you there? Surely, you might well have been there, whether your name is Peter or Patricia, James or Jamie, John or Joan. And, what did you see? And, what did you hear? And, how did your faith develop as a result of that experience?

A. First, you saw God alter the appearance of Jesus. You had traveled with Him for a few years and had always seen Him as a rather normally appearing human being, a regular, ordinary, typical, even common variety of a man of the first century. And, yet, right there before your very eyes, God changes His appearance. God is trying to show you and the others how Jesus, your earthly friend, is also divine, God, "My beloved in whom I take great delight." He is God as well as human.

B. Then, you hear God' voice from the cloud. It tells you to listen to, to hear and to heed what Jesus has to say. We've been doing that all our lives, have we not? Listening to, hearing and heeding what we read in Scripture of Jesus' teachings, etc.? I think so. Could we do it more diligently? I suppose so. God's admonitions in this regard sounded to you right urgent, did they not? Well, yes, come to think about it. After all, this is God speaking, like at least, almost, out loud. God's talks! Wow!

A. Next, you see, from down there on the ground on the mountain top, how He comes to you. He notices your apprehension at observing the mysterious scene and He approaches you cowering as you and the others do. He reaches out and touches you with His "reassuring" hand (so, Reginald H. Fuller in Preaching the New Lectionary). Jesus is so very compassionate. He is available to us especially when we are afraid, bewildered, confused, bogged down in some unknown situations, etc., . . .

B. Then, you hear Him tell you not to fear. He has said that before many times, of course. It's about time we learn that lesson, don't you think? I think so. For, this time, you recall, He comes to you and the others cowering up there on that mountain from the spectacular experience you are having there then. He comes to you and reaches out to touch you. Then, He is characteristically compassionate in the face of your fear. He tells you fear is unnecessary. He is there with you as ever.

A. Jesus' transfiguration has changed you and the others up there that day. You used to think of Jesus as only or mostly as human. Now you have seen and heard Him as God, as well. He is 100% human and 100% God. Those figures are illogical, but logic never confined God. So, Jesus can be 200% or even more if need be.

B. Now, what difference does Jesus' being both God and human mean to your faith? It means to mine that there is nothing Jesus cannot do, cannot be, cannot provide for us in this lifetime and beyond. Therefore, we can trust God to do for us whatever we might need, even if we are unaware of needing anything in our affluence and complacency. God provides all.

So, finally, Jesus calls you and the others to come back down the mountain. Irish vocalist, Enya, in her album, "a day without rain" sings a song, "Pilgrim". It's first verse sings, "Pilgrim, how you journey On the road you chose To find out where the winds die And where the stories go. All days come from one day That much you must know You cannot change what's over But only where you go."
So, wherever we go, God in Jesus Christ goes with us, up onto mountain top experiences and into every valley we travel.

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