First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720
231-547-9122


Sermon – March 3rd, 2019

Jesus Revealed 3/3/19   by Pastor Greg Briggs

  1. Prayer and Introduction
    1. “May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our rock and redeemer. Amen”
    2. Jesus Revealed
  2. Part 1 – What happened up on that mountain?
    1. Flashback to 8 days before
      1. “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

19 They answered, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others that one of the ancient prophets has come back to life.”

20 He asked them, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered, “The Christ sent from God.”

  1. A visual demonstration of Jesus as intersection of human and divine
    1. Saw his Glory
    2. Continuity of the Jewish tradition – Moses, Elijah, and Jesus
  2. Disciples response
    1. Almost overcome with sleep, managed to stay awake
    2. Peter proposed building 3 shrines
      1. But he didn’t know what he was saying
    3. Cloud and the voice of God
      1. All were overshadowed, disciples were overcome with awe
      2. “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!”
  • They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.
  1. Transfiguration is Jesus’ “coming out”
    1. Seeing who Jesus truly is
      1. Getting closer to a full understanding of who and what Jesus is
      2. Not just teacher, not just John, or Moses, or Elijah
    2. Jesus has been holding himself back? Or trusts his disciples enough that they are ready for more?
    3. Gain courage from the ancestors to do what needs to be done, though it will probably lead to his death
  2. Disciples struggle with their relationship
    1. Confused, overawed, frightened?
    2. “Peter, James, and John ascended Mount Tabor with their own clear ideas of who Jesus was – friend, teacher, and fellow Galilean. But now he’s suddenly different.  Whatever happened on that mountain, their perception of Jesus was changed in a profound way.  Jesus was still the same person as before the Transfiguration experience, but he was something more in their eyes as well — something which they had not known previously.”
    3. “First, “coming out” by LGBT people to family and friends can be a transfiguration experience. Disclosure of one’s own sexual orientation and/or true gender identity to loved ones is a big revelation.  However, it does not change the individual, but rather how others perceive and relate to them.”  Theologian Francis DeBernardo
    4. Jesus being fully authentic, sharing who he truly is
  3. Part 2, Coming down the mountain
    1. Jesus confronted by a man and his son, who is possessed by demons – in need of healing
    2. Jesus response “You faithless and crooked generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you?”
      1. Unclear if this is meant to include the apostles who couldn’t cure the child
      2. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus sent the apostles out. They departed and went through the villages proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”
  • Did something shift? Because of the Transfiguration?
  1. Jesus just taught them what it meant to be the Christ and follow him “Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. 24 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them. 25 What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives?”
  1. Disciples struggle again, this time with what they are called to do vs what they want to do for themselves.
  1. Transfiguration transition from Epiphany to Lent
    1. Transition between sublime to the everyday
    2. Peter, tries to hold on, to enshrine the divinity, in a remote place
      1. Is told to listen
    3. The mistake of either \ or, instead of both \ and
      1. A Jesus fully revealed, is a Jesus preparing to die, and asking others to pick up their crosses and follow him
      2. Let their selfish desires die too
    4. Yet Calling people to Christ, being Christ centered is about doing what Christ did more than believing what Christ is
  2. Jesus is disappointed in lack of faith
    1. Faith that can’t produce change
  3. “You faithless and crooked generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you?”
  4. What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  1. Lack of faith, then and now
    1. 3 biggest denominations all in scandal and upheaval
    2. Roman Catholic – (20.8% of US)
      1. decades long sexual abuse scandals
      2. a Pennsylvania grand jury report in August detailed hundreds of cases of alleged abuse
  • former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was expelled from the priesthood in mid February – cardinal highest rank of the church
  1. Southern Baptist Conference (5.3%)
    1. Less than a month ago “The newspapers reported that hundreds of Southern Baptist clergy and staff had been accused of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years
    2. dozens who returned to church duties
  • over 700 victims with little in the way of justice or apologies.”
  1. United Methodist Church (3.6%)
    1. Conference in St Louis this week – split over same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT clergy. About 53 percent of the delegates voted to maintain bans on those practices and strengthen enforcement
  2. Like the child healed – those that are traumatized and in need of healing are the ones that Jesus calls us to be with
    1. The marginalized
      1. Sex abuse survivors, LGBTQ individuals
      2. So often, these people are wounded as children and youth
    2. I worry that we are not listening, but are actively being silent, hoping this will all blow over, so we can ‘get back to following Jesus.’
    3. This is what Jesus has called us to do!
      1. There’s no ‘getting back’
      2. We cannot build our shrines on a mountain, like Peter suggested, hoping to hold on to a fading light of glory.
    4. Luke 9:23 Jesus said to everyone, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. 24 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them. 25 What advantage do people have if they gain the whole world for themselves yet perish or lose their lives?
    5. And initially, we might feel that we can’t do it, that our faith isn’t sufficient, just like the apostles who couldn’t heal the child
  • Jesus isn’t asking all of you to become anything more than you are, just share it wider
    1. Need sages, lovers, mystics, and prophets
    2. Needs people who clearly welcome and love them, as the family and the church that raised them has rejected them.
      1. Listen to the stories of the survivors, they often are re-wounded and retraumatized by those who don’t believe them, or reject them
    3. Story of Mother who goes to same sex weddings when biological mothers won’t show up
    4. Xians apologizing and listening, and making changes so that the vulnerable are protected, and cared for
    5. https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/october-web-only/sexual-abuse-trama-victims-silenced-rachael-denhollander.html
  • Need to listen to Christ and who he has called us to serve
    1. Unaffiliated, atheists, agnostics, nones, and dones – 38.6% of US population
    2. Many of which have good reasons to be disaffected by the church
    3. Then there’s us, the United Church of Christ
      1. 0.4% of US, 800,000 members,
      2. Arguably most progressive mainline Protestant denomination, yet only 30% of our churches are O.N.A., and even that is no guarantee of true acceptance
  • How can they see the light of Christ, if the horrible actions of the church overshadow it and the silence of any contrasting voices?
  1. Or, are we only looking for the light of Christ in the shrines, in the high, isolated places, away from the rest of the world?
  • We are called to witness as others come out with their full selves, and see them transfigured as Christ was
    1. Then we are called to come down the mountain, and care for others,
    2. This is how we will see Christ’s radiance
    3. Helping others “come out” in every sense of the word.
    4. We are creatures made blind with sin

Readings

Luke 9:28-43

28 About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. 31 They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. 32 Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him.

33 As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. 34 Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe.

35 Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” 36 Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.

 

37 The next day, when Jesus, Peter, John, and James had come down from the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38 A man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to take a look at my son, my only child. 39 Look, a spirit seizes him and, without any warning, he screams. It shakes him and causes him to foam at the mouth. It tortures him and rarely leaves him alone. 40 I begged your disciples to throw it out, but they couldn’t.”

41 Jesus answered, “You faithless and crooked generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 42 While he was coming, the demon threw him down and shook him violently. Jesus spoke harshly to the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. 43 Everyone was overwhelmed by God’s greatness.

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