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

Three Men and A Cloud

February 10th:

February 10, 2013
Call:       Exodus 34: 29-35
Text:       Luke 9: 28-36
Read:   Transfiguration (259)

                Three Men and A Cloud

I've been thinking
    (And my family always gets nervous when I utter those words)

But, I've been thinking
I have been thinking of adding a new interactive item to our services
    I'd add it right at this point of the service
    And I'd call it,    "What Did You Think?"

Now, I'd like to think that my motive and inspiration for adding this
    Would be purely to strengthen the worship experience
by getting you even more involved.

That would certainly be part of it.
But I confess that the real reason
would be    that it sounds to me like a lot of fun.

Judge for yourself.
This is what I envision:
Each week I would take a couple of minutes to ask you,
    "What did you think     when you first saw the sermon title?"

This week, I'd expect answers like

"Tom Selleck, Ted Danson, Steve Guttenburg."
But they were three men with a baby - not a cloud

    "The Lone Ranger and Tonto"
        For the introduction to the old TV show
            (and hopefully to the movie coming out this summer)
        Included words
            "... A cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi, Ho, Silver.'"

But, of course, only the math challenged would think of this
for no matter how many times you count
    There are only two men, not three.

How about:  "Jim Barnes and two similar males
discussing a way to store smart phone data."
        But here while we have three men
        Not one of them would know how to use a cloud to do that.

Of course, for some, the Transfiguration might have come to mind
    In which case I would say, "Hallelujah!"

The Transfiguration story has long fascinated me.
    It is surreal and mystical
    It is not simply a story of Jesus teaching, preaching, or healing
    It is more a meaningful and worthwhile audio-visual aid.

I am not certain as to whether the story is about:
    A vision,   a dream,    or an actual event.
And to paraphrase Rhett Butler,
    "Frankly, my dears, I don't care!"

I don't care because the message in the story is what counts
    And I think the message of the Transfiguration
Which we hear each year on the Sunday before Lent
        Strengthens our ability to prepare during Lent.

The story itself begins,
    "Now, about eight days after these sayings ..."

After what sayings?
    Are they relevant for anything other that to locate the time?

They are.
And so, to better grasp the message of the text,
we need to go back those eight days.    [Luke 9: 18-23]

So the questions Jesus asked - a bit over a week before - were:
    "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
And "But who do you say that I am?"

When Peter answered correctly, that he was the messiah
    Jesus ordered and commanded them to tell no one because of the suffering he still needed to undergo.

And Jesus disclosed to them
    That if anyone wanted to become his followers
        They needed to deny themselves
        And they needed to take up their crosses daily.
So the questions and the answers of a week earlier
set the stage for today's text
And thus help us grasp the meaning and message of the Transfiguration

In acknowledging that Peter was correct that he was the messiah
    Jesus disclosed to them that being the messiah
Was not to be a bed of roses
for him
nor for those who followed him.

We do not know how Jesus' disciples spent the intervening week
    But we can be confident that these questions, answers, and disclosures
        Were consistently racing through their minds

Now, we can approach the text.
    We do so with those questions
    And those disclosures in mind       [Luke 9: 28-36]

Peter, James, and John
    Must clearly have demonstrated that they were willing
        To every day, take up their crosses and follow him

For he took them up the mountain    to pray

And while they were on top of the mountain
    They became quite sleepy
But. even in their sleepy state
What they saw there     awed them and frightened them
    What they saw there     moved them and inspired them
    What they saw there     was both exciting and terrifying.

Jesus' appearance changed - he had been transfigured
His clothes became a dazzling white
    Like the white we associate with angels and heavenly beings

And the three men saw him standing and talking with Moses and Elijah
    How they recognized them, I don't know
        Both had been dead for centuries
        And photography was a long ways off
But somehow they knew who the two figures standing with Jesus were.

They knew that Moses had received the law
They knew that Elijah was perhaps the greatest of the prophets.
    And so symbolically they saw both the law and the prophets
        On that mountaintop
    The figures representing the two keys to their faith
        Were on that mountaintop
    Those figures were talking with P, J, and J's teacher

Imagine being the only witnesses to a conversation among
    Ruth, Cobb, and Mays
    Washington, Lincoln, and either Roosevelt
    Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach
    Galileo, Newton, and Einstein
    Homer, Shakespeare, and Hemmingway

This was something extraordinary
    And told them that Jesus was at least an equal to Moses and Elijah
But the story wasn't over.

Moses and Elijah - the law and the prophets - disappeared
    But Jesus remained.
They were gone, but he was still there.

Could that mean that
    While Moses and Elijah had been awesomely important
        They had served their roles
        They had completed their tasks
        And they had fulfilled their callings

And that the one who was left
    Their teacher
    The one whom Peter, 8 days before, had identified as the messiah
Had succeeded and exceeded the ones who were gone?

That question was answered for them
when a cloud came and over shadowed them
    Like the cloud that had led their ancestors out of Egypt
    [and like the cloud that would later take Jesus up at his ascension.]

    And from that cloud came a voice
        "This is my son, my chosen; Listen to him."

Jesus was the only one left and the voice said
    He  is my son
    He  is the one I have chosen
    You have to listen to him

Christ asked his disciples "Who do you say I am?"
    In the Transfiguration they were given the answer.

Earlier I said that it didn't matter to me
whether the story of the Transfiguration
    Was a dream or a vision         or an actual historical event?

Now I ask you the question:     Do you see  that what matters is:
Who Jesus is
That you and I listen to him
        And that upon listening to him
 we pick up our crosses and we follow him?

Martin Luther King understood
    We know of his cross
    And we know that this story was what he was talking about
when he said, "I have been to the mountain."
But do we understand?

I hope we do because Wednesday night we begin a period of 40 days
    Of preparing to follow him
And we will not be successful in our preparations if
    We don't understand who he is and that we have to listen to him
And     if we don't understand that there is a cost in electing to follow him.

That's why, on the Sunday before we begin that period of preparation
We hear the story of three men  who are not Selleck, Danson,
And Gutenburg
and of a cloud              which is not of dust or data