The Reverend Dawn-Victoria Mitchell with a sermon for Transfiguration Sunday Based on the readings for the day: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-36
An error with Facebook made the audio unusable today, so we are posting the text of the sermon instead.
Actor, athlete, and motivational speaker Dan Clark tells this story:
One cold evening during the holiday season, a little boy about six or seven was standing out in front of a store window. The little child had no shoes and his clothes were mere rags. A young woman passing by saw the little boy and could read the longing in his pale blue eyes. She took the child by the hand and led him into the store. There she bought him some new shoes and a complete suit of warm clothing.
They came back outside into the street and the woman said to the child, “Now you can go home and have a very happy holiday.”
The little boy looked up at her and asked, “Are you God, Ma’am?”
She smiled down at him and replied, “No, son, I’m just one of God’s children.”
The little boy then said, “I knew you had to be some relation.”1
The boy knows, instinctively, that there is something special about this kind woman. To him, she absolutely glows. She positively shines with the love and light that can only come from above. So much so that the boy mistakes her for God.
You see, a close, personal relationship with God is hard to keep secret. When you or I have a close, personal relationship with God, it shows. Moses and Jesus, like the young woman, experience that divine glow. The nearness and presence of God literally shines through them! The mark is there for others to see.
Just before his transformation, Moses is on Mount Sinai once again. There he fasts and prays on Israel’s behalf. Moses also receives the Tablets of the Commandments once again. While on Sinai, the Lord God hides Moses in the cleft of a rock as God’s glory passes by (Exodus 33:21-23; cf. 34:5-6). This “close encounter” leaves its indelible mark on Moses. Moses’ face begins to shine. The glow is so bright that Moses must veil his face.
Jesus, like Moses, is up on a mountain to pray. The end is drawing near; Jesus has just told His followers for the first time about what He must suffer (v. 22). Suddenly Jesus’ face is transfigured with holy light. Even His clothes become dazzling bright! Moses and Elijah, the great Lawgiver and the great prophet, appear in counsel with Jesus.
A resounding Voice calls Jesus “My dearly loved Son, My Chosen One” (Luke 9:35; NLT). These words echo the affirmation heard at Jesus’ Baptism, testifying to Jesus’ closeness with God (Luke 3:22). And one cannot get much closer than that, God’s very own flesh and blood. And through God’s Son you and I receive adoption. You and I can have that same close relationship with God.
Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. The forty days of Lent is a time when we turn inward and take stock of our relationship with God. Lent provides the perfect opportunity to work on strengthening our relationship with God as we prepare for the joy of Easter. As we begin our Lenten journey, we hear the call “to observe a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).
1} Daily Prayer. Prayer is essentially a two-way conversation with God. At its best, prayer is as easy and as natural as chatting with your best friend over a Dunkin’ Donuts mocha latte. If the very thought of prayer causes palpitations and sweaty palms, help is at hand to get you started.
Our prayer book is a treasure trove of prayers. There are prayers for various circumstances and needs, such as guidance and protection. The BCP also contains several forms of prayer for use at different times of day, such as in the morning and at bedtime. As you pray, don’t forget God’s advice (Luke 9: 35). Be sure to spend time listening to God, too.
2} Bible Reading. Holy Scripture is God’s main way of speaking to us. The Bible is God’s Word, God’s love letter to you and me. Think of the Bible as God’s Basic Instructions before Leaving Earth. If we would seek to know our Loving God better, we must spend time each day reading and reflecting upon God’s Word.
In the back of the prayer book, there is two-year cycle of readings for daily use. This can also be found on-line. There are also many devotional resources, such as “Forward Day by Day” or “The Upper Room,” which include a Scripture passage and a brief meditation for each day. You might also consider reading through one of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry during Lent.
3} Weekly Worship. I would not be a priest if I did not mention worship. Of course, I do realize that I am “preaching to the choir” here. In communal worship, we encounter God in both Word and Sacrament as God’s Word is heard and the Eucharist is shared. We also receive strength from the St. Mark’s family to encourage and support us in our faith journey.
Perhaps you already attend Sunday services faithfully. Consider making St. Mark’s Lenten offerings a part of your Lenten journey. Maybe you currently do not attend worship regularly. Make weekly church participation a Lenten goal.
4} My list is by no means exhaustive. The most recent Lion’s Roar has even more thoughts. And I am more than happy to discuss how you might deepen your relationship with God.
A close, personal relationship with God cannot be kept secret. When you or I have a close, personal relationship with God, it shows as God’s love and light shine through us. So, this morning I have just one question for you: do you glow??
1 “Are you God?” as reprinted in Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, Jack Canfield et al. editors.