Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

The Difference

February 19, 2012:

Special Effects
Call:   2 Kings 2: 1-12
Text:   Mark 9: 2-9
Read:   Transfiguration 258

                                Special Effects

They say that   "A picture is worth a thousand words."

I am not certain who "they" are
And as one with an affinity for words
        I am not convinced that I fully buy that;
I do not buy that it is always true;
However, I do buy that there is much insight in the statement
        And that there are times when a picture can be worth even more than
        a thousand words.

Therefore, of course, there is truth in it.
        I know and appreciate that
        Matthew, Mark, and Luke knew and appreciated it as well

That is why, when telling the story of the Transfiguration,
        They have painted - interestingly enough with words - a picture

Although they use words instead water or oils
        The gospel writers don't tell us what it means
        They simply hang it up for us to see
                And hopefully learn what God wants us to learn
It is a picture
For no one can hear this story  without visualizing the event.

Steve Jobs,
who gave great priority to graphics
        Would have liked this story.

Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron,
All of whom place significant emphasis on special effects
Would have liked this story

Timothy Leary,
        Who was turned on to hallucinogenic images
        Would have liked - no, "loved" - this story.

Sigmund Freud
        Who paid attention to dreams
        Would have been enthusiastic about this story

In fact as I visualize the story
        I see it, I feel it, and I get an understanding of it,
somewhat like I do with dreams,
somewhat like I would expect with hallucinations

Before you get the wrong idea, I want to make it clear
that I do not mean to suggest
that the transfiguration was a dream or a hallucination
        I simply mean that the images move without the logical part of our
        minds controlling them

Further, as in our dreams,
we keep our own personal characteristics as we "see" the transfiguration.

        We, for example, are Peter
                Filled with astonishment and awe
                Moved by being there
                And yet interacting as clumsy human beings.

And now,        hopefully having expanded our minds
                Or more accurately our perspectives
                (and without our needing any of Leary's LSD to do that),
I share the story as Mark told it       [Mark 9: 2-9]

Can't you just see this word painting?

Aren't you mesmerized by the glowing white?
Don't you want to fall to your knees when you see your teacher with Moses
and Elijah?

Don't you want to hide in fear
when you hear the voice from behind the cloud?
Doesn't this impact on your emotions?

My answers to these questions are
        Yes, I can see the painting
        Yes, I am mesmerized
Yes, I do want to fall on my knees
Yes, I do want to hide
Yes, it does impact on my emotions
        It impacts powerfully.

And that is exactly what this scripture is supposed to do.

For with pictures, dreams, and visions
        We are stimulated and taught through our emotions
        Far more than the logical, deductive parts of our minds

In fact, what is happening here is that Christ is reaching and touching
our hearts, our minds, our souls, and our lives
        And we can't quite decide or describe what is happening.

It's like what we said last week when we sang the Gaither hymn,
        "Something happened and now I know"

Now, recognizing that we all see things differently
        Because of our various gifts, make ups, and experiences
And trying to avoid
the risk of destroying the picture
        And of lessening or eradicating the impact
                By getting too analytical
Let me offer two thoughts - reminders, actually
        That I hope will make the scripture picture more vivid
And     That will help each of us grasp, understand, and learn
        From this dream-like vision or picture

First, I offer the reminder that scripture is not so much the story of God
        As it is
the story of the relationship between God and human beings

Remember                The Bible begins in Genesis
with God as our creator
and the Bible ends in Revelation
with God as     victor over our enemies         and ruler over us.

In between we have:
        the instructions to Adam and Eve
        The unilateral covenant God made with Noah after preserving him from the flood
The covenant with faithful Abraham and his family
The covenant of the law with and through Moses
The covenant with David
        The prophets' warnings and attempts to save the relationship
The promises also through the prophets
                That there would be a deliverer, a messiah
                And that there would be a new covenant
                        This one etched in our hearts

All these deal with our relationship with God
        And particularly God's attempt to salvage that relationship
        Despite our failings, our disobedience, and our apathy

And that's just the OT.

In the NT we have
The promise in Jesus Christ
The giving of the Holy Spirit
The birth of the church through the disciples
        The spreading of the word way beyond Abraham's biological descendents.

Secondly, I offer the reminder
That Christ was sent to teach and inform us about that relationship.
and     That he fulfilled that task by teaching in many ways

Christ taught - and teaches - by preaching sermons
        For example:    The Sermon on the Mount

Christ taught - and teaches - by parables
        For example:    ones about the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son

Christ taught - and teaches - by healing
        For example:    lepers, blind men, woman who was hemorrhaging

Christ taught - and teaches - by brief statements resulting from simple
        For example:    when Martha complained about Mary

Christ taught - and teaches - by symbols
        For example:    broken bread and poured out wine

Christ taught - and teaches - by answering questions
        For example:    When asked about the greatest commandment

And now in this story Christ taught - and teaches -
        By a dream-like vision that enters us through our emotions
        By a picture worth much more than a thousand words
        By special effects that would make Spielberg, Lucas, and Cameron drool.

Having warned you earlier
about breaking down the story too analytically
Having shared the two reminders
        That Christ's task was to teach us about our relationship with God
        And that this story was one of the many ways he tried to fulfill it
And being confident in and trusting of
your ability to discern

Let me share how I see this word painting.

I see Jesus blowing the minds of his most trusted disciples
        With the glowing white robes
        With the presence of Moses and Elijah
                About whom they had read long before they dropped their nets and
                became fishers of men

I see Jesus tying together
        Moses' promise that God would raise up a prophet like himself
        And the words spoken at John's baptism of Christ

I see God pleading with them
to convince humanity            to get its relationship with God right

I hear God saying through this picture
        Look at this glory and how small and inadequate you feel
That's because I created you
        When you messed up our relationship, I sent Moses with the law
                To straighten you out
        When you messed it up again, I sent Elijah and the other prophets
                To warn you of the consequences
        And you messed up again
                And so you received the consequences
        And when you didn't learn even from your punishment
                I still kept my promise to send you a Messiah

        And     HEAR HE IS              The one left after the cloud departed

        The one I have sent     is not just anyone
                He is my very own son   I am pleased with him

        Now, you didn't listen well enough to Moses
        And you didn't listen well enough to Elijah and the other prophets

        But please I beg of you Listen to my son!!

And I see Peter, James, and John
        Realizing that indeed their friend and their teacher
is the Messiah and is the Son of God
        and that they, after his death are to take his mantle
                just as Elisha took Elijah's

And down in the corner of the picture,
I see Jim Barnes and the Potsdam UMC congregation
Looking even smaller than Peter, James, and John
        Also recognizing that God expects us to listen to him too
        And to take on the mantle of the three who were there
                To be witnesses and to make disciples
And to love God by loving our neighbors - all our neighbors

What a picture!         What a vision!          What special effects!