Monday, February 15, 2010

Come to the Mountain to See!!

I was having this conversation not too long ago with a friend of mine about how hard it is to get to church on Sunday Mornings.
She was telling me how her husband and she both work full time, how they both have to get up every day at ungodly hours to take care of their kids.
How tired they are by the time the weekend comes around.
How they end up going to church only to have their kids squirm in the pew to the point where they have to take them out and miss most of the service anyway.
How Sunday is just another day that they have to get their kids dressed and out the door by 8:30 to get to Sunday school on time.
Let me say that I can emphasis with what she was saying.
There are two days a week that I have to get my kids up, fed, dressed, and out the door in order to be at pre-school by 8:30 and I have to tell you that every time I am late.
I know that with two young kids it is hard.
And I can see from up here how hard my wife has to work to keep our kids entertained.
I know that most weeks she does not here the sermon because she is in the Nursery with our kids.
I am not unsympathetic to the difficulties in getting to church.
In fact, I would assume even if you don’t have kids or your kids have moved away that it is still hard to get to worship on Sunday morning.
I am mean there are a lot of other attractive things to do on Sunday morning.
Sleep in, read the paper, watch Meet the press, do nothing, or go out for breakfast.
But all of you have made it here this morning.
All of you have done the hard work of getting out of bed, getting dressed, and coming to worship this morning.
I wonder why?
What is that made you come to worship this morning?
I would suspect that the answer would be different for all of us.
Perhaps some of you like seeing the other people in the congregation.
Perhaps some of you feel it important that your kids get a good Christian education.
Perhaps some of you feel guilty and this is simply what one does on Sunday morning.
Perhaps some of you really like the way the choir sings?
I want to suggest this morning that it is for a much simpler reason that we come to worship.
I think we come to worship because we expect to have an encounter here with God.
That we believe what we do in worship matters to our lives.
We believe that here in this place together we will see and know God better than in any other place we could be on Sunday morning.

This morning in the Gospel the disciples have a transcendent moment with Jesus on a mountain.
They see him transfigured before them in all the glory and majesty of God.
In that moment they experience and come face to face with the wonder and glory of God.
I would assume that after that moment the disciples are changed in a profound way.
They understand and see something in Jesus that up to this point had not been completely clear to them.
Jesus no longer is just a healer, miracle worker, exorcist, preacher, teacher, or prophet.
Jesus is now to them their savior and messiah.
Granted a different messiah then what they thought he was going to be, but a Messiah never the less.
Coming down that mountain I like to think that those three disciples saw and experienced something so profound and so awesome that mere words and expression simply cannot do it justice.
The transfiguration is always like that for me.
The story and this day are just a little too grand and spectacular for my liking.
I much more prefer the stories of Jesus as common man.
But you see this would be to rob Jesus of what he is for us.
To merely say that Jesus was a really good person is to deny that Jesus is also the way in which we see and know God.
Jesus is the son who transforms us into shining examples of God’s grace and love.

Our hope is that we too might be able through the grace of Jesus to be transfigured and made into a new person.
As St. Paul writes, “If anyone is in Christ there is a new creation..everything becomes new.”
This transformation is not possible outside of faith in Jesus Christ.
It is only possible because God’s glory shown through Christ.
And through Jesus glory I can see glimpses of God’s glory in my life, in your life.

Which leads me back to the family of four with two working tired parents who drudge themselves and their kids to worship on Sunday morning?
Why should they come to worship?
The glory that we receive from being here is too great not to be here.
It is too important to miss for anything.
For fatigue, sleep, coffee, a great breakfast, the Sunday paper or anything else.
What we receive this morning is transformation from the people who can do no right, the people who are slow to understand, the people who work too hard for too little, into something far greater than anything else.

I think our faith in Jesus Christ transforms our lives and gives us glimpses of God’s kingdom.
I think it enables us to see in our very normal life the transcendence of God’s holy mystery.
Getting up and going to work is not just about a paycheck, it is about serving God and our neighbor.
Our marriages are not just about keeping a promise; it is about a spiritual journey of leaving our selfish lives in service someone else.
Our children are not just another thing to manage they are holy treasures to love and nurture.
Family meals are not just ways to get nutrient they are holy moments to share our lives and treasure each other.

I used to be against the idea of having to go to a mountain top to experience the divine presence.
But the more I think about it the more I am convinced that mountain top experiences are essential to our life of faith.
It is on the mountain that God give Moses the holy law.
It is on the mountain when God in silence gives Elijah the comfort of God’s holy presence.
And today it is on a mountain that God confirms Jesus mission, and tells us to listen to Jesus because Jesus is the true interpretation of the law and the prophets.
It is on the mountain today when we are told that Jesus is God’s son the messiah.
So, on the mountain we come in contact with the holy mystery of our faith.
It is on mountain tops that God communes with us and tells the transformational truths that give our lives value and meaning.
The Mountain top experiences make it possible for us to see God in the ordinary times.
What is your mountain top moment?
When do you experience a glimpse of the holy and transcendent?

I will tell you that many years ago on a mountain I had a deeply transformational moment with God.
I was sixteen and questioning if I believed in God.
I was at Camp Calumet and I took a hike by myself up to Jackman’s ridge that overlooks the lake and the camp.
There I talked to God.
I confessed that I was sinful, and that I needed God in my life.
In the wonder of the mountains, in the beauty of God’s created world, I felt the presence of God.
I got an answer that day that God would always be there for me.
I have had other moments that where similar.
I find that at worship every week I get moments of the transformation as God continues to call to me through his word, and forgive and love me through his body and blood.

That is why it is worth it for you to be here this morning.
It is why it is the best thing you can do for yourselves all week.
Get up and come to worship.
Here you will experience the transformation of your lives.
Here you will see God in His Son Jesus Christ.
So come up to the mountain and in awe see Jesus Christ your Lord and your Savior. Amen

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