2 Peter 1:16-21
So you may have noticed the drastic change in weather this past week, and let me tell you, it has been a welcome change before it changed back today. Instead of the many many days in a row of rain and very short period of actual daylight each day and maybe even a few centimetres of snow, it is really nice not having to wear waterproof shoes, thick sweaters, and rain coats. So thank you, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun for shining down on us. Until today, that is. It was good while it lasted.
And while nothing else really changed, I mean I still have to go to work every day, my kids are still the thorns at my side, and I’m still not rich enough to get a new car, somehow my mood has just changed because the sun finally came out. So I tried to soak up as much of it as I can, you know, by sitting in my office trying to finish off my daily duties before the sun went down but pretty much failing every day. But hey, at least I had a nice view of the sunset from my desk.
There is something about the light though, isn’t there? Something about the radiance, about the way it makes us feel, about the way it somehow recharges our batteries like we’re a solar panel or fictitious Kryptonian alien named Superman. Whatever it is, I welcome it, I appreciate it, and I long for it when I don’t have it.
Because really, we’d been having a tough run so far this year, haven’t we? Do any search on January 2020 and the internet will fill you in through jokes, tweets, and memes about this horrible start to a year that promised us hope.
There were the raging fires in Australia, the rumoured start of World War 3, this coronavirus that won’t stop spreading, the death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, the whole pipeline through Wet’suwet’en land thing, and even the news we got of Pastor Christoph Reiner’s son last week. It has been a tough go. So much that there are times I just want to cancel church. Be like, nope, not today, too much stuff going on in the world that I just can’t even. Some of you might jump at the chance. I just thought maybe we can take the time to do anything but be here and have to worry about all the things that need to be done in preparation. Or take the time to rest and heal on our own way and space. Or just take the time to be apart.
But I felt like that would be a mistake. That in our time of need it’d be best that we stick together. Granted, there aren’t too many of us here on any given Sunday for various reasons, but I appreciate the fact that the few of you took the time to be here for this Sunday. That in this day that we recognise and celebrate the Transfiguration, we might be able to derive healing from its light, we might find rest in the community of the saints, and we might have our pain transformed by the grace of God.
I’m not promising that 2020 is going to get any better, I don’t think anyone can do that. I’m not saying that today is going to be this magical and miraculous day in which our spirits are instantly lifted and unexpectedly turn for the best. I’m not even saying that today will be good. But I can say that I know today will be better for us meeting as a community, us praying together as a family, and us worshipping together as a body of Christ, shining bright out into a world that is full of darkness and pain, reminding us of God’s deeds of the pasts and promises of the future, and changing us from within and softening our hearts to the presence of Jesus in our midst.
Still, you might think all of that could happen from the comfort of your own home, in front of a computer screen with a decent internet connection. I mean anything can be found online, can’t it? So maybe healing can too.
But I just think that together we are stronger. Together we are better. Together we can shine brighter for when we are gathered in the name of Christ, he says that he is here with us, for us, and saving us from our times of trial.
And in this gathering, perhaps we too might see the heavens opening, light descending, and a voice saying, “this is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased.” There is comfort in that voice, for while we might automatically assume that the voice is talking about Jesus, it could very well be talking about us too. All of us. Each and every one of us. Children of God. Beloved. With whom God is well pleased.
I know, it doesn’t always seem like we can be beloved, what with all our iniquities and stuff. I know I feel that way. It doesn’t always feel like we can be God’s children as we often deny God and act outside of our faith. It doesn’t always feel like God is well pleased with us, rather it feels like we are continually punished by all the horrors and atrocities of the world. I’m not saying that we feel like it’s our fault, but it does sometimes feel like this is why we can’t ever have nice things.
But this voice says one more thing that reels us back in and reminds us that it actually is talking specifically of Jesus, the voice says, “listen to him.” Listen to him. Listen to his words. Listen to his actions of grace and mercy. Listen to his calm presence as he approaches the paralysed-in-fear disciples collapsed in the fetal position on the ground as he holds them and says “get up and do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid.
Easier said than done, that’s for sure. I’m afraid of a lot of things. I’m afraid that my kids won’t have a world to grow up in because the generations before them shot it all to hell. I’m afraid that our so-called humanity has evolved to the point so full of hatred that there is no longer any hope of salvation. I’m afraid to bump into anyone on the road that might be carrying the coronavirus and spreads it to me and all those I then encounter. With so much to be afraid of, how can Jesus ever expect us to be able to be anything but afraid?
Well, he does. For these aren’t his only words that we can to listen to. Aside from “do not be afraid” he also says “peace be with you”, “blessed are you,” “I am with you,” and “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
Man, Jesus sure nailed that last one, didn’t he (no pun intended)? It’s like we have no idea what we’re doing, we’re just here trying, acting, and being. But even in that, even in our not knowing what we’re doing, Jesus reaches out with a radiant hand full of love and grace and forgives us, welcomes us, and brings us back into community.
And then he goes and tells us not to tell anyone about how awesome he is. Go figure. But that’s for another sermon for another day.
As we hit the end of this season after the Epiphany, may we lean into the pain of the world and in our hearts, and see the healing that comes through the love, the grace, and the mercy of Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God. Amen.