February 11, 2018, The Transfiguration – Helen Harris
To listen to this sermon, click here: Z0000063
It was a bright beautiful day just like any other morning, a young mother woke up and prepared breakfast for her family. Her little yellow haired, blue eyed daughter was in first grade and she loved the color pink. She asked her mother if she could wear her pink dress, and her mother said yes. Her name was Emilie. School opened on time and the teacher started her lessons for the class.
That day was December 14th at Sandy Hook Elementary School. A gunman opened fire killing 20 young children and 6 adults who wouldn’t be going home. They would be taken up to heaven into God’s arms.
No one knows why 20 children had to suffer and die or why they were chosen that day. They certainly didn’t hurt anyone in their short lives, they couldn’t have. Emilie hadn’t done anything wrong, she was only six years old.
Everyone who has been baptized are received into the household of God. Only God knows where our journey will lead us and when it will end.
Jesus was the Son of God. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, the Spirit of God came down upon him like a dove. God’s voice echoed from heaven saying “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to walk up to the top of the mountain to pray with him. Not only to pray but to be a witness to and extraordinary event, one that would change their lives. The three apostles had to be woken up, as they were asleep, which also would happen again in the garden when Jesus was arrested before his death. They were given a great gift in seeing a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. The voice of God repeated those same words on the mountain top, “This is my Son”.
I pray that at that moment when Emilie and those beautiful children were at the end of their lives, Jesus was there with them. He, with his almighty shining glory with his hands and arms extended to embrace them. That they had no suffering and no pain when the actual event did happen, as he was there with them to take them home to Heaven.
When Peter was in his later years, he described himself as an eyewitness “of this magnificent event when he was on the mountain with the other disciples.”
A man named Thomas Aquinas who was a 12th century priest described the transfiguration as “the greatest miracle in that it complemented baptism and showed perfection of life in heaven.”
After the transfiguration, on the mountain, Jesus and the apostles headed for Jerusalem for the ultimate climax of his ministry. It would be the beginning of the journey for him to pick up his cross which would lead to his suffering and crucifixion.
For Peter, James and John, to be a disciple it meant to walk the way of the cross with Jesus. To follow Jesus is eternal life. Jesus asked the disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen on the mountain top. The disciples didn’t understand that Jesus was foreseeing his death that was to come.
The Father knows what it is like to lose a child, as those lost that day the gunman killed those children. Like those parents who lost their children, like Emilie, his heart and tears cried out to them on that day. We are meant to believe in the Resurrection of Christ and in eternal life. This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday when we mark our foreheads with ash and we vow to fast and give up something we love for the next 40 days, like chocolate. The real reason for the forty days is to prepare us for the coming of the crucifixion of Christ and Easter and the glorious Resurrection.
These next forty days we are meant to look deep within ourselves and let Jesus teach us about the scriptures. We are all individual disciples of Christ. With repentance we give ourselves and our lives to God.
Jesus tells us “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
We never know when we will be called home to God’s Kingdom, like little six-year Emilie that day. When we leave our homes, if we will return to it. We pray to have trusting faithful love for Jesus in our hearts.
Are you prepared to take up your cross and follow Jesus this Lenten season?