Rev Bill\’s Sermons

February 3, 2008

Exodus 24:12-18, Matthew 17:1-9

Filed under: Exodus, Matthew — revbill @ 9:34 pm

Exodus 24:12-18

Matthew 17:1-9

February 3, 2008

Transfiguration of Lord (also Super Bowl Sunday)

Super Sunday!

Read Scripture

You may not have taken the time to look at your newspaper before coming to Church this morning or turned on your TV this morning or turned on your radio while driving here this morning – so I’m going to help you out by telling you about a couple of things that are happening this week.

A couple of super things, no less.

One is occurring in Phoenix, Arizona in just a few hours.

It’s the Super Bowl!

That’s the annual National Football League championship game.

Maybe you’ve heard about it.

Can you tell me what teams are playing?

Yea – it’s the New England Patriots and the American Football Conference vs. the New York Giants of the National Football Conference.

The 42nd edition of the Super Bowl!

Can you tell me records of the 2 teams this year?

You may have heard that the Patriots are 18-0 – or you may have heard that they are undefeated even if you don’t know they’ve played 18 games so far this year. You may not know that the Giants are 12-6 – with one of those 6 defeats coming at the hands of the Patriots – 38-35.

So – who are the quarterbacks that will be playing in a few hours?

You may be able to name them both – it will be Tom Brady for the Patriots going for his 4th Super Bowl victory in as many appearances — and Eli Manning in his first Super Bowl appearance. Eli’s brother, Peyton, won it last year when he quarterbacked the Indianapolis Colts over the Chicago Bears.

It seems that everywhere you go the Super Bowl is being talked about. .

Being the football fan that I am – and growing up with my Dad being a big football fan also – I can remember some to the more notable games – with Bart Starr leading the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first 2 Super Bowls – and “Broadway Joe” Namath delivering on his promise that the New York Jets from what most folks considered “the weaker” AFL would beat Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts from the “stronger” NFL in Super Bowl 3.

The Super Bowl has become a cultural phenomenon!

The sale of big screen TV s – this year with High Def capability – spikes this weekend.

Of course, the Super Bowl has really become a media event. The commercials are many times more memorable than the games. Just ask the folks at Annheiser – Bush if the money they spent on commercials with croaking frogs, Clydesdale horses, and – last year – mud covered dogs was money well spent – they’ll tell you!

Ok – so today is Super Bowl Sunday – or – as many have called it – Super Sunday!

That’s the first super thing that you might be in your papers this morning.

The other will occur in a few days,.

Tuesday of this week is what has been termed “Super Tuesday” – when millions of Americans will go to the polls in primaries throughout the country to vote for their choice of the person to be the presidential candidate for either the Democratic or Republican parties. A great number of delegates will be at stake in each party — and with essentially a 2 person race now on each side – Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama for Democrats and John McCain and Mitt Romney for the Republicans – although Mike Huckabee still has a chance in the Republican primaries – there is the potential that one of these on each side can really be a front runner by Wednesday morning. You can tell the political campaign is heating up as you watch the candidates go after each other in the debates!

So – Super Sunday with the Super Bowl!

Super Tuesday with the political primaries on Tuesday! ‘

American football and American politics — two things that grab our attention this week!

They are headline news!

But – there is another super thing we are celebrating today.

You mean you don’t know – you haven’t heard?

Today is Transfiguration Sunday!

You mean you’ve forgotten?

Some of you have blank looks on your faces – like “What’s transfiguration?”,

Transfiguration Sunday – when we celebrate the event that occurred before Jesus began his journey to Jerusalem to face His death on the cross.

Transfiguration Sunday – when the disciples had the supernatural experience of seeing Jesus in all His glory – seeing Him as He really was – seeing Him as the Son of God – and hearing God tell them that He is well pleased with Jesus.

The Transfiguration.

A supernatural event.

Transfiguration Sunday.

A Super Sunday.

Can you imagine what the Transfiguration must have been like for Peter – James – and John – the disciples who witnessed it?

For almost 3 years they had followed Jesus – heard Him teach – seen Him work miracles. They may have begun to entertain the idea that Jesus was the long – awaited Messiah. But – then Jesus began talking about leaving them – about dieing and rising again. Peter had tried to tell Jesus that that would never happen – only to have Jesus rebuke him.

Peter – James – and John must have wondered what was really going on – and who Jesus really was.

It did not take long for them to see who Jesus really was!

The next week Jesus takes them on a hike.

A hike up a high mountain.

We can imagine that they follow Jesus up the steep mountain trail until their knees ache and their backs hurt and they are breathing in short gasps.

If it were me it would not take very much of a hike for these things to happen!

As they reach the summit, they pause to fill their lungs with air, and gaze around at the awesome beauty that surrounds them on four sides.

Then — they see something else.

Suddenly Jesus — their Lord — is “transfigured” before them.

The word Matthew uses is metamorphosis – or total change. The face of their beloved teacher shines like the sun, and his garments have become dazzling white. Beside him appear two visitors — none other than Moses and Elijah, the greatest prophets of Israel. A bright cloud overshadows all three of them – it’s the shekinah of the book of Exodus, the same glowing cloud that Moses entered on Mount Sinai. The — from out of this cloud there thunders a voice: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

It is a vision of power, and surely an impressive experience for those disciples.

Peter – James – and John had an experience with Christ – an experience where they saw Christ as He really was – and their lives were changed.

A super day.

Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Tuesday.

The Transfiguration.

A Super Sunday!

But – what makes this Transfiguration such a super event – for us?

What makes it super for us is that it reminds us that God still comes to us – and we can still experience God as He is – be blessed by a vision of God – and be strengthened for who God calls us to be.

Yes – it is a Super Sunday!

Peter – James – and John truly had a “mountaintop experience” – and their lives were truly changed.

Many of us have had “mountaintop experiences” at times in our lives — times when we have felt so strong and so emotionally charged that we have felt that nothing that could stop us from doing what we set our minds to do.

These can be exhilarating experiences – even life changing experiences.

One man who truly had a “mountaintop experience” was Sir Edmund Hillary – who died a few weeks ago. He is remembered for as being the adventurer who, in 1953, was the first to stand atop the summit of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak. Most people are inclined to imagine Hillary and his guide ascending the summit as a lonely duo, but in fact that was anything but the case. The first ascent of Everest was more like a military campaign than a feat of individual courage. The New York Times account of his death recalls that the expedition included “a dozen climbers, 35 guides and 350 porters carrying 18 tons of food and equipment. But – he is remembered as the one who ascended Everest. This experience changed his life as he was knighted and hailed as a conquering hero. He almost became something of a super hero.

A super day.

Super Bowl Sunday.

Super Tuesday.

The Transfiguration.

A Super Sunday!

The things is – we all can have “mountaintop experiences” like Peter – James – and John – like Edmund Hillary.

We all can have times when God comes to us – we see God for who God really is – and our lives are changed.

We all can have super days – super moments – super Sundays — or Mondays — or Tuesdays — or Wednesdays — or Thursdays — or Fridays — or Saturdays – super days when God comes to us and empowers us to be His people.

The problem, however, for many of us is that we do not notice God.

We can go through our lives – day in and day out – and everything seems to run together and nothing seems special. We can become so caught up in the every day that we fail to see the special days – the super days – the special events – the super events – where God can come to us – make Himself known to us — touch our lives and make a difference.

We can become so caught up in the ordinary that we fail to see the extraordinary.

We can become so caught up in the sub par that we fail to see the super.

We can become so caught up in our agendas that we fail to see God.

Rusty Schweickart was an astronaut who flew the lunar module for the Apollo 9 mission. Like d many of his fellow astronauts, his life was changed by the experience of looking down at the Earth from outer space. Here’s what he said about it:
“Up there you go around every hour and a half; time after time, after time, and you wake up in the morning over the mid-East, and over North Africa. You look out of your window as you’re eating breakfast — and there’s the whole Mediterranean area, and Greece and Rome, and the Sinai and Israel. And you realize that what you’re seeing in one glance was the whole history of [humanity] for centuries; the cradle of civilization. You go across the Atlantic Ocean, back across North Africa. You do it again and again. You identify with Houston, and then with Los Angeles, and Phoenix and New Orleans. The next thing you know, you are starting to identify with North Africa. You look forward to it. You anticipate it. And the whole process of what you identify with begins to shift. When you go around it every hour and a half, you begin to recognize that your identity is with that whole thing. And that makes a very powerful change inside of you. As you look down you can’t imagine how many borders and boundaries you cross — again and again. And you can’t even see them. Still, you know there are thousands of people fighting over some imaginary lines down there that you can’t even see, and you wish you could say, ‘Look at that! Look at that! What’s important?’ “

Indeed — what’s important?

Is it the many duties, the chores and errands and assignments that fill our days with low-level noise?

Or is it those “big-picture” kinds of moments, the rich intervals of stillness and of calm — the times of “being still and knowing that the Lord is God,” of sensing the Holy Spirit at work in our hearts?

What’s important?

It is – truly – those times when God comes us – blesses us with a vision of who He is and who we are – and calls us do great things for Him.

These are the truly important – truly special – and indeed truly super times of our lives!

But – we have to recognize them for what they are and not try to “explain them away” or try to make them less that what they really are.

We are pretty good at coming up with all kinds of explanations for things and all kinds of reasons for things that leave God out of the picture – and when we do – we miss the real reason behind things and the real super nature of things.

When Sally and I lived along the North Carolina / Virginia border about once a winter we would get an ice storm. The temperature would around freezing — not quite cold enough for snow, and not quite warm enough for the rain to keep from freezing. The precipitation that fell would hit the slightly colder tree branches and the surface of roads, instantly transforming them into a coating of ice. Soon we would have a vision of gleaming, shimmering crystal out our windows – the tree between the Manse and the Church covered with crystals of ice – the sun glistening on the branches and on the Church steeple. Every part of every tree — every branch – every twig — would glow with the sun. It would seem that the artists at Waterford Crystal had crafted a huge, crystal sculpture of unbelievable intricacy and placed it out our window for us to enjoy. If our power lines had not snapped we could cut on the TV and hear the newscasters talk about the falling rain and freezing temperatures that had painted this beautiful picture out our window. And we could believe them. Or – we could believe that it was God.

The times that seem the most normal and have the most natural explanations can be the times when God comes us – blesses us with a vision of who He is and who we are – and calls us do great things for Him. These can truly be the super times of our lives – if we will let them be.

But – we have to see them for what they are – and not for what they can be explained as being. We have to see them as times when God is coming to us – blessing us with the vision of who He is and who we can be in His name – and what we can do for Him.

Today is Super Bowl Sunday.

Some of you may know it is also Souper Bowl Sunday – a day when churches from many denominations around the world work together to do something about poverty in their own areas.

It all started when Brad Smith, now a Presbyterian minister, was a student intern at Spring Valley Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC in the 1980’s. Brad got this crazy notion – or I believe the truth is that God gave Brad this crazy notion — that his Church’s youth group could do something about ending poverty in their area.

Imagine that! Kids from a Church not much larger than Hopewell doing something to help fight poverty!

It was a crazy notion – but a God given crazy notion!

Brad decided that they would ask everyone at church on Super Bowl Sunday to give $1.00 that would go to a local food bank. Before long members of their youth group were telling members of other church’s youth groups – and the next year several more churches joined in – until by 1997 one million dollars was raised by churches of many different denominations – and last year more than 14,000 churches and organizations raised over 8 million dollars that was given to local organizations that helped those in need.

Now that’s super!

And it all came about because God gave Brad Smith the crazy idea – but the super idea – that he and his young people could actually do something!

We’re going to take part in this Souper Bowl of Caring today. As you leave the Church this morning the young people are going to be standing at the doors with bowls. Be sure to make a contribution as you leave.

Our offering this year is not going to help the needy is our area – but it is going to another dream – another vision – another idea that some may say is crazy but I think is super!

Dylan Bryant is going on a Mission Trip this spring from his school – The King’s Academy – to Los Angeles to work in the inner city area. He will be telling folks in the LA Inner City about Christ.

Imagine that!

A teenager from little Hopewell Presbyterian in Florence, SC thinking he can go out to Los Angeles and make a difference from Christ!

Some may call it crazy.

I call it super.

God comes us – blesses us with a vision of who He is and who we are – and calls us to do great things for Him. These can truly be the super times of our lives – if we will let them be.

But – we have to see them for what they are – and not for what they can be explained as being. We have to see them as times when God is coming to us – blessing us with the vision of who He is and who we can be in His name – and what we can do for Him.

It’s these times – these visions – these ideas – that are important to God – and should be important to us.

It’s these times – these visions – these ideas – that can change our lives and change the world as God works through us – His super people!

The Super Bowl?

It’s fun – it’s entertaining – I’ll probably watch at least part of it tonight.

Super Tuesday – it’s important as many people help decide who our next President will be.

The Transfiguration?

It’s important because it help us remember that God gives us visions of who He is and who we can be for His glory and with His love.

And that – my friends – is truly super!




1 Comment

  1. […] You can read the sermon here.  « Transfiguration Sunday     […]

    Pingback by Rev Bill » Blog Archive » Sermon: Ezxodus 24:12-18, Matthew 17:1-9 — February 3, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

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