Sermon, March 3, 2019
“No Ordinary Mountaintop”
Luke 9: 28-36
Our Epiphany series of “Living in the Light” culminates with the brightest of light seen in the Transfiguration of Jesus. We have had 8 weeks to ponder upon what it means to live in the light of Christ. I have enjoyed digging into the wonder of Epiphany these past weeks having never looked at Epiphany in this way before now. We began epiphany with shimmering hope: the divine light that shines in the child is not a foreign light to the earth. It is the Light at the heart of all life. It is the light from which all things come. Epiphany is the story of the light at the heart of everything; the light at the heart of you, at the heart of me. Christ is our epiphany, our showing, our hope. In Jesus we see the Light of life; in him we have shimmering hope. A great light has dawned, a light that draws all people and calls us to live our lives illuminated by its truths.
Thus, our story of children of God begins with “Living in the Light – Living Water”. This living water is poured on us at our baptism. Baptized with living water, our journey begins and is our first gift from God that leads us on a path of discovery of many God-given gifts.
And so, living in the light opens us to the spiritual gifts of God; living in the light is like being bathed with the light of God upon our souls. This bathing light warms us with spiritual gifts. Our spirit must be open to the invitation to see the light of life. As we use our spiritual gifts and discover them in ourselves and others, we are being bathed in the light of God.
Our journey through epiphany continued with “Living in the Light – As one Body”. Sharing our spiritual gifts bring us to the belief that we are then One Body in Christ. We must be one body for inclusion is what we believe. Exclusion is a terrible disease in lots of ways. Inclusion is paramount for peace, hope, and love to thrive in each of us.
And so, we arrived on Epiphany 4 with “Living in the Light – The Gift of Love”. We were called on this Sunday to chose love over rejection; respect over turning away; love over hate, peace over conflict. It is not as easy as we would hope it could be, as pray it would be. Love is always risky, because we cannot enter-into it without being changed. Beauty shines as we are living in the light with the gift of love.
“Living in the Light is about becoming followers of Jesus.” Being called to become and belong to a community of faith seems to be the stepping stone for a faithful life with the love of God ever-present in our life. Remember the woman who loved all her children but loved the one the most when they were down, or weak, or hurt. This is my God and yours.
Living in the Light with many blessings comes to us as followers of Jesus. To be blessed is to know you have God’s attention. To know that wherever you go you will not be alone. To be blessed is to know that you are valued and important simply because God has made you priceless. Even in our brokenness, we have the faith that God is our safe-haven.
Living in the light is loving our enemies. Loving those who hate can bring a reconciliation for all. To love your enemies then is knowing that our behaviour is not determined by the enemy. The Jesus we worship does not respond with hate in response to hatred. Jesus does not react, Jesus acts in love and grace and forgiveness toward all and such ought to be the way of Jesus’ followers. We are called not to judge or condemn but rather give and forgive. In other words, we are called to non-retaliation, generosity and mercy. To know God’s forgiveness and generosity means that we are ourselves God’s forgiving and generous children.
And so, today we come to see the splendour of God’s glory bright. We see Jesus radiating on the mountaintop which is no ordinary mountaintop. All the light of the Epiphany season is gathered together to rest upon Jesus this morning, standing in a blaze of glory on this mountaintop.
Mount Tabor is the site said to be the location of the Transfiguration of Jesus. I have only seen Mount Tabor from a distance, from the position of other sites throughout the Holy Land. On the one hand, it is a mountain like any other in the landscape of this section of the world. It is a diverse topography marked by hills and valleys, fertile plains and arid desert, mountains and wildernesses. On the other hand, Mount Tabor is extraordinary.; it stands alone it it’s uniqueness. Then you remember that such is their nature — mountains, that is. Talk about mountains we have them in all their splendour with the Rockies down the road and the majesty of the mountains surrounding us here. And so, mountains are particular and poignant for us. They rise up from the plains of our lives to invite majesty and awe; wonder and fear; to call to mind the heights of the heavens and yet the reality of the valleys below.
Mountains have a way of transforming you. As Peter, James and John look upon Jesus they remember the two men in their scriptures who shone so bright and blazing. Moses when he came down from the mountain with the ten commandments and Elijah when his chariot soared to heaven. We bring our experience to any given situation and when we can’t believe what is before our eyes; we look to what we know. So, the natural question would be, are you…Moses… Elijah?
The Transfiguration of Jesus must be a moment of splendour that extends and exists beyond the mountaintop experience and into our faith story. God has chosen to reveal God’s self in ways that are breathtaking, miraculous, wondrous. Why? Because we have a tendency, to tame God, to think that God will adjust to our many needs, to think that God will conform to our ideals. This day we see no ordinary mountaintop experience. We see our majestic God! Amen.