Sunday, September 16, 2012

Transfiguration

Message from September 2, 11:15 Celebrations service, by Laura Hulsey
Scripture: Mark 9:2-8
Audio available, and here
Have you ever experienced a time when something ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary?  For someone that is an athlete having a regular game or event transform into the extraordinary can happen quite easily.  During the Olympics it was easy to see how one swim across the pool or one volley of a ball can change an ordinary moment. 

Two weeks ago my daughter Miranda was married at Samuel Lewis State park. Because the wedding was held in a state park there were many people there that had come to spend a regular afternoon enjoying their families and the day. For those of us that were a part of the wedding, the day that was before us had been changed from ordinary to extraordinary. 

My oldest daughter Lindsey decorated a simple picnic pavilion into a beautifully decorated banquet hall using a few white table cloths, paper lanterns, and table decorations.  JP and my son-in-law Jordan’s dad changed a normal wedding ceremony into one that was meant just for Miranda and Jordan.  The weather transformed what could have been a pretty day into a glorious one, which has been reflected in picture after picture.  What makes the normal and ordinary become transformed?  Is it one simple change or a bunch of factors coming together at the same moment to make the difference?

During the winter of 2011 we had a fair amount of snow around here.  I love the snow.  Not necessarily to play in it, but I love to watch it transform a dreary gray world into one that is extraordinary.  During that winter there was one particular snow storm that I don’t think I will ever forget.


It was a school day.  Another day that started out as ordinary.  Jump out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, pack lunches, and get the troops moving.  Everyone was out the door except for Wesley and me.  The clock was pleading in its normal voice that we had better get a move on or we were going to miss the bus.  I opened the door to step outside and realized that it was snowing.  Now for a teacher snow means three things; a day off, a delay to the school day or an early dismissal.  Well due to the snow’s late start on this particular morning my hope immediately jumped to an early dismissal.  As we made our way to the car it was apparent that this was not going to be an ordinary snow event.  The snow was coming down at a very fast pace and already the ground was being covered very quickly.  We drove down to the bus stop and I realized that the snow had already covered the road ways and they were becoming treacherous.  Wes and I usually get to the bus stop eight to ten minutes early.  As we sat there another one of the other parents arrived and some students.  The snow continued to come down at a pace that was equal to a snow squall, but it wasn’t letting up.  Then it was time for the bus to arrive.  We waited, and it didn’t come. About fifteen minutes later the bus had not shown up, so I got out of the car to ask another parent if they had heard if there was some sort of delay.  In the short time that we had been at the bus stop there was already about an inch of snow on the ground.  After conferring with this parent we decided that we should probably give it a few more minutes and then head back home.  Well the bus did arrive shortly thereafter, much to Wesley’s dismay. 

When I arrived back at the house and stepped out of the car I could not believe how the dull, gray winter world had been transformed.  In just about an hour an inch and a half of snow had fallen.  The ground was no longer visible and completely untouched by any footprint.  The trees were laden with snow.  Everything looked clean, fresh and new.  I stood in the driveway for about ten minutes watching as the snow continued to fall. The transformation before me had me relishing in the beauty of and marveling in God’s wonder and creation.

The scriptures tell us that it was an ordinary day in Jesus’ life.  He had made journeys to the tops of mountains before. The reasons Jesus usually made the journey to the top of a mountain were for time to be alone, for time to pray, or for time to be with His heavenly father.  Yet this time, as Mark records in chapter 9, Jesus takes along Peter, James and John. 

These were three ordinary men.  We know that for a fact.  They were fishermen, with families.  They worked together as partners. They worked hard.  They were part of a community.  It appears that their faith was an important part of their lives.  John the Baptist was a part of their community at the time.  He was seen and heard preaching and baptizing many in the area.  Peter became a follower of John.  It would stand to reason that James and John were too.  Surely as these three men spent hours together gathering fish, they must have shared their thoughts and ideas about the things that John was saying.  Were they longing for this one that John preached about?  Did they understand why he would come?

 The Bible tells us that when Jesus appeared on the scene, by the Sea of Galilee, these three men did not hesitate to drop everything and do what He asked.  At once they put all of their trust in this man.   The three of them heard Jesus’ request that somehow transformed their day and their lives from the ordinary.  No longer fishermen, but followers.

From the moment of Jesus’ call they spent their lives watching, helping, and serving a man they hardly knew.  It seems likely that each time these three men witnessed another miracle or heard another parable they began to change.  Events and occurrences, each day, in Jesus’ presence that brought them to another place in their faith. Their understanding of God began to change.  Surely, their understanding of love began to change. Their understanding of forgiveness began to change.  Each encounter was bringing them to be the disciple that God wanted them to be.

So here they were on a mountain top with Jesus.  I’m sure as they set out they probably expected to spend time there with Jesus in prayer.  They probably figured that they would be getting some rest.  Maybe since they were going to be such a small group they were hoping to ask Jesus some burning questions. Or maybe they were delighting in opportunity to have some time to have some fun.  Ordinary things on an ordinary day with Jesus.  Yet as this mountain top experience begins to unfold the three men that are standing with Jesus realize once again that this is will not be an ordinary day. 

Jesus’ appearance becomes transfigured into something new.  Elijah and Moses show up.  Jesus shares in a conversation with them.  Peter, James and John although they were frightened, realized that it was good for them to be there.  Dumbfounded, they come up with the idea that they should build a shelter.  A cloud appears, a voice that gives a command.  Then the ordinary day returns.   

Peter, James and John were three ordinary men.  They answered Jesus’ call to follow.  They spent ordinary days in encounters with Jesus. Each experience building and changing them.  In the end bringing them to a place where they could change the world for Jesus.  They each became transformed lives for Jesus where Peter would become the rock of the church, John would write words on a page that we still read today in the Bible and James became the second martyr. Giving his life for Jesus only seventeen years after answering Jesus’ call.

How can we make our ordinary lives become lives that are transformed for Jesus? These three disciples spent lots of time with Jesus.  The same is true for each of us.  If we spend time in Jesus’ presence or in a place where we know we will find Him.  He is going to transform our lives. Maybe you are not sure where you can spend time with Jesus.

  Here in worship is a great place to be with Jesus.  We can find Him in the music, in prayer, in scripture, in the message, and in the fellowship.  Yes, Jesus can be present in all those things, but maybe you want to experience Jesus in action, among the people, healing and touching lives.  How does one do that?  Maybe you will find Him in a Sunday school class, or a small group.  Maybe you will find Him while serving breakfast at the YDC.  Maybe you will find Him in a room at Normandy Ridge nursing home.  Maybe you will find him on a day meant for cleaning the church.  Peter, James and John followed Jesus along the banks of lakes and to the tops of mountains. They shared in experience after experience, but they did it by stepping out into Jesus’ world. 

Each snowflake is unique.  The amazing thing about snow is that each of those tiny little crystals comes together with millions of other snowflakes to transform the world around them.  Each experience that we have with Jesus can do the same for us, they can all come together to transform our lives.  They can make us fresh and unspoiled.  They can make us shiny and clean.  They can all come together in a way that can transform the world through the witness of our lives.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  Find a place this week where you can find Jesus.  Soak up the encounter.  Become transformed for His sake.

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