God Takes the Ordinary and Makes Them Extra - Ordinary!

The Transfiguration

The Transfiguration – August 6, 2017 – Year A

Luke 9:28-36

GOD TAKES THE ORDINARY AND MAKES THEM EXTRA-ORDINARY.

Color brings so much to our world.  Think of TV before color.  Think of pictures before color.  At the beginning of the fall, I always get a new box of crayons just like the students.  I love the smell and feel of a brand new sharp pointed crayon.  I guess because I love school, a new box of crayons elicits very fond memories of each new year.  I imagine each one of as a brand new sharp pointed crayon.  We all have different skills and resources which richly bless us all at St. Andrew’s.

As I read this text, I asked myself, what should my homily be about today?  It’s great story, yes, but where is the message, the sermon, the Bible teaching, that will speak a word of hope to you today?  What is the story really about?  Ordinary guys go away with Jesus. They go to the top of the mountain, then they see the incredible, the unbelievable, the sensational. Jesus was transfigured. He becomes so bright, so radiant, they must shield their eyes.

Ordinary men, as the Bible tells us, ordinary men, sleepy men, men who almost missed the most meaningful experience of their lives. Perhaps this is really the essence of today’s message….ordinary men!  If you were starting a new religion and building a movement, would you save the most magnificent event of your campaign for three ordinary fishermen?

NOTICE WHO IS NOT THERE

Luke 9:28 it says:  “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.”

Our exposure to election campaigns and our national news have taught us how to make this a big day, if Jesus had just asked. First, we would hype it up. We would plan it in advance. We would invite all the media, CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.  Before the media arrived, we would make sure we had experts there.

We would invite scholars, professors from the best universities, educators of the highest quality, and instructors from every field.  We would have invited world leaders. We would have gone through the whos who of decision makers. Face it, if heaven was going to come to earth, we would want to make sure everyone, who was anyone, was there as a witness.

We would have Kings and Queens, Governors, Princes, and Princesses, all seated in the front rows. We would have a large podium, surrounded by microphones.

We would use all the avenues of social media, email, Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram, Twitter.

Think about it, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Priest, the lawyers, the Roman governors, the Kings, and maybe even the Emperor, all sitting there. Reporters from the Jerusalem Journal, the Galilee Gazette, and Bethel Star, with there their photographers.  We would do it up right. When Jesus was transfigured, when Moses, and Elijah came to the mountain, it would make news. Every headline, world-wide, would carry the report.

But, that is not how it was done by Jesus. Notice none of these people were there, no leaders, no scholars, no media, no podium, and no microphones.

NOTICE WHO WAS THERE

In our gospel we heard:  “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.”

Peter, James, and John, were fishermen. That is right, just ordinary fishermen. Let’s take a closer look.   First there is Peter.

John MacArthur wrote, “Peter’s name is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other name except Jesus. No one speaks as often as Peter, and no one is spoken to by the Lord as often as Peter. No disciple is so frequently rebuked by the Lord as Peter; and no disciple ever rebukes the Lord except Peter. No one else confessed Christ more boldly or acknowledged His lordship more explicitly; yet no other disciple ever verbally denied Christ as forcefully or publicly as Peter did. 

No one is praised and blessed by Christ the way Peter was; yet Peter was also the only one Christ ever addressed as Satan. The Lord had harsher things to say to Peter than He ever said to any of the others.

But being outspoken and running amuck is not the whole story. After he is filled with the Holy Spirit he preaches the first sermon in church. From that Sermon there were 3,000 converts. 

He was bold-spirited and audacious before the Jewish leadership. He suffered for following Jesus. He became the man-in-charge.

Why was Peter on that mountain? Remember this:

GOD TAKES THE ORDINARY AND MAKES THEM EXTRA-ORDINARY.

What about James and John? There were known as the Sons of Thunder. We see that side of them when they want to call down fire from heaven on the inhospitable Samaritans.

And who can forget when they recruited their mom, yes, their mom, to ask for a promotion.

Listen to these word from the 20th chapter of Matthew:  “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”

 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.

 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

This exchange did not sit well with the rest of the disciples. James and John’s selfish, self-centered, self-righteous, behavior was over whelming.  What could Jesus do with these two who were temper filled, self-absorbed, self-serving, disciples?

Fast forward to after they were filled with the Holy Spirit. James becomes the leader of the church of Jerusalem. James becomes one the writers of the New Testament. James and John turn the world over, in Jesus name.

GOD TAKES THE ORDINARY AND MAKES THEM EXTRA-ORDINARY. 

I have had 5 funerals in the last 8 weeks. Three of the 5 died way too early and two of the three very unexpectedly.  Each time I am asked to do a funeral it is truly an honor.  But how does one try to capture the essence of a person’s life in such a short time.  Perhaps you have asked yourselves what will people say of me when my time comes?  Perhaps you have you found yourself saying, “I am not special. I have never done anything that people will remember. I have not written a book that shook the world. I have not made a life altering discovery like the cure for cancer. I am just ordinary”.

Well now you know you are in very good company.  You are just like Peter, James, and John. Imagine if Jesus could only pick three people to go with him on top of the mountain to pray and you were one of the three.  Imagine just for a moment what it must have been like to see Jesus change before your eyes.  His clothes became dazzling white.  Then all of a sudden Moses and Elijah appear with you all.  Just like Peter, you would want to stay there.  It truly was Heaven on Earth for them.  It was transformational!

Now back to reality.  What are the events in your life, especially your spiritual life, that were transformational?  Do you remember a time that you realized that God truly loved you?  Have you prayed for some thing or some one and your prayers were answered?  What sustains your faith and keeps you wanting more?

When you feel that way, remember, “Jesus saved the greatest moment in his ministry, not for special people, but ordinary fishermen.”

All because:

GOD TAKES THE ORDINARY AND MAKES THEM EXTRA-ORDINARY.

God wants to take your ordinary and make it extra-ordinary. Will you let him?

This week let us seriously reflect on our gifts and blessings.  What is it that God is calling you to do with these gifts and blessings?  Pray that God will illuminate your path to show you the way. God said in the gospel:  “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!

As we start back on a brand new school year.  Think about how different each color in a brand new box of crayons is.  Each one brings a different feeling and illumination to a picture.  You are one of God’s beautiful crayons in his box and now it is time to step up your faith and let him use you to the fullest.  It will be transformational if you do.  God bless each of you.  AMEN.