Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
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Pastor Rev. Brooke Newell
Secretary Donna McDonald
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Get Up

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March 2, 2014:

Potsdam and West Stockholm
Call:    2 Peter 1: 16-21
Text:    Matthew 17: 1-9
Psalm:   Psalm 99 (819)
Prayer:  "Transfiguration"    No. 259

            Get Up!

This is the day

This is the day that the Lord hath made
   And you and I
   Must
      Not just "should"
      Not just "if you haven't got anything better to do"
   But must
rejoice and be glad in it.

Peter, James, and John could tell us that.
   For this is the day that we celebrate
      The occasion when they came to understand:
         That Jesus was not   just an outstanding preacher
         That Jesus was not   just an excellent teacher
         That Jesus was not   just a remarkable healer
         That Jesus was not   just a gifted leader

But that Jesus was    the son of God
   And the one sent to fulfill the law and the prophets

For today is the day that we celebrate what we call
   "The Transfiguration"
And because those disciples observed it and ultimately shared it
   You and I should rejoice and be glad.
Admittedly, however, because of the fact that this event is
   So "other worldly"
   And doesn't provide us with
      A nice neat story and lesson like the parables
   Or clear instructions
         Like the Sermon on the Mount
Many people don't pay a lot of attention to the Transfiguration.

In fact, I have encountered good, faithful, and well read Christians
   Who cannot tell anyone
      The facts or the meaning of the transfiguration
   They cannot tell anyone why it is important to us.

Very frankly, twenty years ago, I was one of those people
   And now I am amazed - and bit ashamed - that I was.

I could blame my pastors, but that would not be accurate
(besides, I am not a big fan of blaming pastors)

The truth is I simply did not relate enough to the story
for it to stick with me like it does today.

Here it is, as told by Matthew   [Matt. 17: 1-9]

I find this story most meaningful and most valuable
   When I read it as if I am Peter, James, or John.

Those three disciples experienced it directly
   They were there, on that mountain
   They saw Jesus with  Moses the law giver
   They saw Jesus with  Elijah the prophet,

Those three disciples saw Jesus transfigured (in an altered state)
   They saw his face shine like the sun
   They saw his clothes become a dazzling white.
Those three disciples saw the bright cloud overshadowing them
And they heard the voice from the cloud
repeat the words we recall from Jesus' baptism
      (words which we heard seven weeks ago)

   "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased"
      and they heard too
the additional three word command
 that the voice added to instruct P,J,& J
            "Listen to him!"

I picture God pointing God's finger at the trio while saying that
   And at us, as we read and hear the story as P, J, & J.

That trio didn't know what to do
   Peter was offering to build a dwelling for each of the figures
      [And note - that he made this offer, fully aware that two of those in the group had died centuries before]
   But when the voice spoke,
the three of them fell to the ground, overcome by fear.

We have to read this story from their perspective
   Because Peter, James, and John are the reason we know about it;   and thus
   Because Peter, James, and John      are us.

You and I would have fallen to the ground in fear
   And I think some of us not knowing what to do
Might well have babbled an offer
to do something as silly as to build dwellings
   For Jesus, a wandering teacher
   And 2 OT guys who had been dead for centuries.



In this moment the trio came to fully grasp
   That Jesus was the Son of God
   And was the anointed one sent by God
      To fulfill the law and the prophets
         which were represented by
            the OT figures with whom Jesus interacted
               on that mountain
               in front of their very own eyes

This event is what has come to be called today,
   "A mountain top experience"

This event was when they went from admiring and loving Jesus
   Too something even deeper.

That is clear from the passage that called us to worship
wherein Peter relates that he and the others
      Had been    "eyewitnesses of his majesty"
      For "We ourselves heard the voice come from heaven
         While we were with him on the holy mountain."

To me, at this point, they started taking Jesus even more seriously,

And that is why this is the day
That we conclude our reflections on our pre-Lenten  scriptures.

For the event that propelled the three disciples
   Into a deeper, more serious grasp of who Jesus was
   Should likewise propel us into one too
      - individually    and as a congregation

As such, this is the day that we are presented with the question
   "Are we  going to take Jesus more seriously
and improve our congregation's service to God?"
Are we going to take Jesus enough more seriously
   That we will step onto the escalator of congregational improvement

There are sub-questions that must be answered
If we are to answer that big and important question:

   Are we   going to understand that we - individually and together
      Are works in progress?
      And in particular, that the rest of those who make up this congregation are also works in progress?
         Or are we going to expect
One:  that they must be perfect
But Two: that they should tolerate our imperfections?

Are we   going to serve as a united - albeit diverse - group
   Recognizing that there will be - and that there should be - disagreements?
   Are we going to keep the main thing,   the main thing
Or are we going to keep insisting on our own way
      And get hung up on petty things that interfere
         With what is important?

Are we   going to understand that serving God is not really
all that    intimidating   or difficult   or complicated?
For we know    what it is  that the Lord requires:
   To do justice
   To love kindness
   And to walk humbly with our Lord

Are we   going to shine so that others
may come to see Christ through us
may come to share Christ with us
and   may come to serve Christ as a part of us?

Or are we going to be so selfish that we hide our own "Christ-lit" light
   Like an eclipse of the sun or the moon?
   Or like putting a candle under a bushel basket?

Are we   going to approach our relationship
   With Christ and with each other with the right attitude of respect, love, and forgiving kindness?
   Or are we going to chose jealousy, quarrelling, and behaving according to human inclinations?

Are we   going to see "building" as a verb
   As something for us to do on the foundation of Jesus Christ?
Or are we going to see "building" only as a noun
   As a place in which we gather
      To offer praise that God did such a great job in making people as wonderful as we are?

This is the day.  This is the day
   The Lord hath made it
As we face these questions,
   We must rejoice and we must be glad in it

For in the imagery of the last several weeks
   You and I are standing at the foot of the escalator of congregational improvement
   We can step on that escalator
      And willingly be carried upward
         By God's presence, God's love,
God's grace, and God's mercy.

Or we can   take a deep breath
   Shake our heads      step aside     and walk away
The transfiguration story ends with Christ telling Peter, James, and John to "Get up!"

I feel that Christ is likewise telling us "Get up!"

Peter, James, and John got up and went where they were to go

Will you and I?      Will you and I?      Will you and I?

[pause]

Lent begins Wednesday.

I hope   and I pray
that you and I will find each other on that escalator
as we begin this holy season with Christ's fire
a fire that can consume all the clutter and all the baggage that so often holds us back.