Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Appetizer

This Sunday I supply preached at Faith Lutheran Church in Franklin, WV. The text was 2 Peter 1:16-21.


            Have you ever walked into a restaurant or a room and opened the door only to be blown away by the noise? That happened to my husband and me when we were on vacation a few weeks ago. We had made plans to have dinner with our children and their spouses. Our daughter picked out the restaurant. When we got inside the foyer the earsplitting music was so loud that we could not even hear each other talking. Because of my husband’s hearing problem, we knew that if we ate at this restaurant, he would not hear the conversation at the table. We decided to go elsewhere. The second restaurant had a much quieter atmosphere and we were able to enjoy our time together.

            I may be stating the obvious here, but have you noticed that it’s easier to hear a conversation when there aren’t a lot of loud distractions blaring in your ears? This is true in our relationship with God as well. It’s the daily living part that was as difficult for the disciples as it is for us.         

            Today’s second reading and the gospel talk about the transfiguration of Jesus. This is when Christ was changed into his glorified body. The transfiguration is described in three of the gospels. Why does Peter talk about it in his letter as well? Didn’t Peter’s audience already know about it? These believers had been taught that Jesus would return, but it still hadn’t happened. Perhaps they were discouraged and wondered if it ever would. Peter appeals to the witness of the transfiguration to encourage his audience as they wait.

In the retelling of the transfiguration, the community becomes eyewitnesses with the three on the mountain who witnessed Christ’s splendor. God’s majesty was displayed. The Father’s voice was heard, calling Jesus “Son…Beloved, with whom [he was] well pleased” (verse 17). Peter, James, and John heard God’s voice from heaven--referring to what follows, suggesting it has an unusual aspect (BDAG). There’s something very unique about the message being proclaimed (NET Bible notes).

The transfiguration is the appetizer for the main course, when Jesus comes again in his glory—not as the crucified one, but as the glorious king. The Old Testament scriptures foretell this.

            Peter, James, and John had to look to see this epiphany. They had to listen to hear the voice. We may not have opportunities as dramatic as that to see God’s presence and to hear God’s voice, but are there ways we can be more aware of God in our midst? 

            Do we always have the TV, radio, I Pod, or some other kind of device on? Are we uncomfortable with quiet, with silence? I am! Some of us grew up with the continual racket of the TV on in the background for much of our lives. But sometimes we just need to be still and quiet and listen. 

I just got back Fri. from a 3 day retreat. I find that when I take the time for quiet like this, I feel closer to God. I can hear God through worship, Eucharist, and other people. And I can hear God in the quiet. But I have to take the time. 

Let me tell you a story. I often have trouble sleeping at night. When this happens, I usually go downstairs, get into a recliner and watch TV or get my laptop and watch Netflix. Eventually I fall asleep. At this retreat however there was no TV, no internet, no radio, no nothing! I had to just lie there and try to go to sleep. When I would wake up, part of the refrain of a hymn we sang kept running through my mind. God would say, “I love you and you are mine.” Without TV or internet, I could hear God speak.

It is impossible to hear God speaking to us when we are distracted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We need to take time to slow down. When you do this can you hear God’s gentle voice? Shhhhhhhh, listen God is speaking.  

            God may speak through scripture as you read. God may speak through a friend, through worship, or through an impression. Listen, God still speaks. 

            Be on the lookout for God presence, whether clothed in the light of the transfiguration or in subtle, easy to miss ways. You may see the face of God in your neighbor, in the homeless, the hungry, those in need on the other side of the world or those living right next door. Let the truth of God’s Word be your light in the darkness, showing you the way.

            God wants to transform our lives. Let the distractions fall away so we can see Jesus. May we close our ears to the din and open them to the voice of the Holy Spirit. God is waiting for an opportunity to talk to us. We need to slow down and listen for His voice. This is expressed in some of the words from the hymn, “You Are Mine”:

I will come to you in the silence
I will lift you from all your fear
You will hear My voice
I claim you as My choice
Be still, and know I am near

I am hope for all who are hopeless
I am eyes for all who long to see
In the shadows of the night,
I will be your light
Come and rest in Me

Chorus:
Do not be afraid, I am with you
I have called you each by name
Come and follow Me
I will bring you home
I love you and you are mine


Amen.



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