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O: Transfiguration of Jesus

Sermon Series on Brian McClaren’s book Naked Spirituality O: Transfiguration of Jesus

Preached: February 10, 2013

How many of you know a teenager?  Or really anyone under the age of 30.  Do you know how they communicate?  It might be through their phone, but they rarely talk on it. Oral communication seems to be extinct.  They communicate via text and FB or Twitter.  If you look at some of the posts it would appear to be a foreign language filled with acronyms.  I’m still trying to decipher what the various acronyms mean.  Elicit responses of current acronyms in communication:  LOL, ROFL,  IDK, When young people use the letters OMG it usually refers to gossip or something outrageous. But what if we changed are perception of OMG – and uttered it as a prayer, as a gasp of having our breath taken away by the wonder and majesty of God. Now I have literally had my breath taken away when I was sledding with the youth group from Marysville about eight years ago. I’m talking about those moments that spiritually take your breath away – those moments that escape any kind of explanation.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take,
but by the number of moments your breath was taken away.
When was the last time you had your breath taken away???  Elicit responses.

 We are on a 12 week journey diving into simple spiritual practices to awaken ourselves to a meaningful life with God, using the book Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words by Brian McLaren.  He has a framework of 4 stages or seasons with three spiritual practices contained in each season.  Our first word Here, reminded us that we need to be present here and now, where we are, and wake up to the presence of God.  Last week we encountered, The Spiritual Practice of  Thanks: the practice of gratitude and appreciation.  The Practice of Awakening to the Goodness of God.  Today we embrace the practice of worship and awe, awakening to the beauty and joy of God through the simple word “O”. O holds the joyful, amazing, loving wonder of AWE &  jubilation – to express what surpasses normal communication. Awe in presence of beauty. O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!  O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker.   95:1, 6

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt God’s name together. 34:3

 Ironic – the moment we get a glimpse of the goodness, greatness, beauty, and the glory of God, we begin to think of ways to capture it – to seek words to celebrate what we have heard, seen, felt, touched…  we reach for words to articulate our experience – we reach for similes and metaphors – poetry & prose – and yet all our explanations come up short. There are times when we feel lifted up, taken up to a place a little closer to God.  These moments, do not necessarily come often, no matter how much we long for them. We live often unaware of the beauty, wonder, and transformative power of God at work in the world.   We often ignore or dismiss  or rationalize such moments. What’s reassuring about the story of the Transfiguration is that the disciples – Peter, James, and John – do not react to the transfiguration with clarity or wisdom. They experience what most of us would in an unusual situation: they were confused & terrified! Echo in Peter’s head:  Don’t just stand there – do something.  But they don’t know what to do. Peter suggests a Jewish holy day “Sukkot” by offering to make three tents – one for each of them They didn’t want to look confused.  Peter wants to busy his hands with something. Often we are uncomfortable with the mysterious, the unexplainable, so instead we think we need to do something. As faithful disciples, there are times when we shouldn’t just stand there, we should do something; and yet, there are other times when we shouldn’t just do something, we should stand there, or maybe more appropriately, take off our shoes and  kneel there to take in the holy. Out of the cloud the voice of God reveals something essential to us, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him.” Within each of us, at our deepest core, is a holy longing for God to become real to us, for God to touch us, for us to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is.  Sometimes what we need more than anything is simply to be awake instead of asleep; open to mystery, rather than certain. The job of science is to remove the mystery from the world. The job of faith is to show the holy mystery hiding everywhere. Remember in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy pulls back the curtain to reveal the “Magnificent Oz” to be a very ordinary human being. Rather than a powerful wizard, he is only a man with a lot of technology at his disposal. That’s science, debunking the pretense of the great wizard.  And, yet, you also remember that this great pretender was able to give each of the seekers exactly what he or she needed– courage for the Cowardly Lion, a heart for the Tin Man, a brain for the ScareCrow, and a home for Dorothy.  That’s what faith is about – seeing the possibilities beneath the ordinary. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit might open our eyes to the holiness that lies behind the ordinary around us and in us, and invite the Spirit to show us who Jesus really is.

 Holy One of Blessing – Your presence fills creation.
You have kept us alive, you have sustained us, You have brought us to this moment.