Monday, March 7, 2011


This past week as most of you know I was on vacation with my family.
It was my favorite kind of vacation.
We basically drove around and visited family, and old friends.
It started with the baptism of my new nephew in Allentown, PA.
Along the way I got to visit friends from college, and seminary.
We ended our trip by visiting with our neighbor from Valley Stream, NY and as a bonus we ran into some parishioners from our last congregation.
Our trip was filled with old memories, but also with a sense of change.
One of my friends has died and we visited with his wife and heard about how she was adjusting to a new life without her husband.
Another one of my friends just took a new call and his family was adjusting to a new church and new community.
One of my friend’s wives was in the middle of getting her degree to be a teacher.
Because today was going to be transfiguration Sunday it got me thinking about all the transitions we go through in life.
How we grow and change with each step in our journey.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday and it is really a transition liturgically, theologically, and Biblically.
It is a transition from the season of Epiphany to Lent.
It is a transition from the light and glow of Jesus teaching into looking at our inner spiritual wellness.
Biblically our Gospel reading for this morning is also a transition.
In Matthew’s Gospel (as with Luke and Mark) the transfiguration is really a transition in Jesus ministry from healer and teacher to messiah and savior.
It is here that Jesus begins his Journey to Jerusalem and to the cross.
This is fitting because we will be on that same journey until Good Friday.
So today is a transition.
But there are so many transitions in our lives.

Being born, getting baptized, learning to walk, losing a tooth,
going to school, learning to read,
falling in love, breaking up, learning to drive, graduations,
falling in love again, getting married, our first job, our last job, raising children,
retiring, getting old, getting sick,
feeling mortal, and dying.
I am aware that today many of you are facing some pretty big transitions in your lives.
Many of you are facing the death of someone you love, children growing older, children being born, new jobs, illness.
More than this there is the internal spiritual transition that we face.
These are even more dramatic.
Realizing God’s amazing love and grace changes our lives in ways that we could never imagine.

How can the story of Jesus transfiguration help us in our transitions?
We should not be scared off by the big word transfiguration.
In fact, the better word that fits closer with the Greek should really be transformed.
The text this morning should read “For they saw him transformed before them.”
It is the same word that Paul uses in Romans to talk about what happens to us spiritually when we have Jesus in our lives, Paul says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
What is really happening to Jesus is a transformation.
In this transition moment Jesus is transformed before his disciples into God’s beloved son.
We too are transformed all the time.
The transitions that we go through are not bad they are opportunities to grow to be transformed into children of God.

Transitions are holy moments when we can pause and take stock of our lives.
Look at where we are going, what we have been, and who we will be.
Think of a baby at her baptism.
It is a moment of being drowned to the old and rising as a child of God.
Think of a teenager graduating high school.
It is a leaving of what was and stepping out into a bright new future.
Whoever you were in high school does not matter, only what you will be in the next phase of life.
A college graduate has the opportunity to choose from an infinite amount of options.
A new parent learns about strength and commitment on a level that no one thought was possible.
A parent of teenagers learns to trust God in a whole new way.
Someone in a nursing home learns to let others help even when they want to do it all themselves.
Finally, death is not an end it is merely the transition into a whole new more glorious life.
We are transformed from this mortal body into immortality, from the perishable life into the imperishable.
Transitions are moments when we are transformed into something totally different.

Of course transitions are also scary.
This is why we might be able to so easily identify with the disciples in this morning’s Gospel.
They don’t fully understand what is happening.
They see Jesus change, they see Moses and Elijah.
But they don’t get it.
They are scared and confused.
And for many of us moments of transition feel this way.
The best thing we can come up with is make a monument to the past.
Try and keep everything up on the mountain.
Try and keep everything the way it was, not the way God is transforming it to be.

On my trip as I visited with people who have been important parts of my life I became really thankful for each one of them, because of them I am the person I am today.
Because of them I was transformed.
I was also aware that in each case I was glad that I moved on, I was thankful for the transition itself.
I am glad for the time I spent in college, but I am grateful that I did not stay in that spot.
I am glad for the time I spent in seminary; they are some of the best years of my life.
I have memories of seminary I will treasure forever, friendships that will always be close to my heart, but I am glad that I moved on to be a pastor and preach the Gospel.
I am ever grateful for the people of New Hope Lutheran Church in Valley Stream.
That place and those people helped to form me as a pastor.
They loved me more than I deserved.
But I am glad that we moved on.
I have grown in new ways by being your pastor.
And when our time together is through I will be thankful for our time together, but I will also rejoice in the next transition, and look forward to the next transformation of my life.

What about you?
What are the transitions in your life that you are thankful for today?
In what ways did those transitions transform your life?
What was God doing in those transitions?
Perhaps today you have come here burdened or worried about a transition in your life.
If that is true then go with Jesus up to the mountain.
And see him transformed.
Listen to the voice from heaven that tells you, “This is my son, the beloved...listen to him.”
Because the best thing we can do in times of transitions is to listen to Jesus.
Hear Jesus tell us not to be afraid.
Hear Jesus tell us about God’s ever abiding spirit and love.
And then go out and shine.
Go out into your life and be transformed by Jesus’ words.
Live deeply into all of the transitions of life, love more, and most of all be thankful that God has transformed you.

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