2 Kings 2: 1-12
MARK 9: 2-9

February 11, 2024

TRANSFIGURATION … today is TRANSFIGURATION SUNDAY and that word means … a complete change into a more beautiful spiritual state. The definition I looked up says, “One shines!”

Do you SHINE church? I mean, really do you SHINE A BRIGHT HALO of GOD-CONNECTION when you are out there in the world? Wherever you go? Have you experienced a transfiguration from who you once were to the person that the world now recognizes as a person who not only gives a care about church but wants to implement the reality of God’s love through Jesus Christ all along life’s all too short pathway? A spreader of love and compassion focused on caring for those whose paths cross your very own.

In our life’s journey … we each have an unmistakable opportunity to make decisions on life. Our circumstances vary … our wealth or lack thereof often is beyond our control … and as we all know our health is not always decided by our own actions or our own plans.

But, WE … you and me … we have a daily opportunities to take on God and accept God as the source of power and direction in our lives. God who can and will transport us away from those voices who desperately attempt to convince us to fit into a world where negativity and self promotion reigns. It is our choice though … your choice because at the end of the day friends I cannot be the one who changes your essence, nor can your friends and family members change you unless you are willing to determine God’s transforming power will work in you. As much as I am trying to provide all the Dave aspects of life into little Dax so that he becomes in essence a mini-me; it will be Dax who decides who Dax will be! I can only change Dave but the truth is God has plans for each of us and God is waiting for each of us to wise up and listen and be transformed.

When we accept God’s plans … when we allow ourselves to be transformed … it will be the moment when we can shout out from our corner of the world along with the prophet, “We are the clay … you, God, are the potter” bend me, mold me, and allow me to be a difference maker in this world! And, friends then the change will be made noticeable … our language, our actions, our very beings will shine the light through transfiguration for God … for Jesus … and for our eternal well being.

The traditional location for the events we heard in our Gospel today is at the top of Mount Tabor, which is located 11 miles west of the Sea of Galilee. Appropriately, this 1886 foot high “mountain” or high hill sits along a roadway the Romans established as the “Way of the Sea.” It marked an important junction on the highway to Damascus and other cities of importance. It because transformational for Jesus. Atop this mountain today is a church built in 1924 that was built on the ruins of two churches the first of which was build in the 4th century. What I remember most of my visit there was the ancient olive press that still works … the priests take beautiful olives, and they squeeze them in this ancient stone press until their essence the oils come out to be used in many different ways. Transformed from the fruit and molded into something more useful.

Although you may yawn at this moment of history on top of this mountain in Israel … that is not what God intended. God offered a miraculous moment intended to showcase the reality that Jesus was not just a street preacher dude hanging out along the dusty roads of Palestine but that Jesus was directly connected with God. Jesus established as our bridge to heaven … our connection … and in church lingo, our MESSIAH who is there to save us and CHANGE us … if … that is IF we believe … if we assess what we are hearing from God’s Word, what we know from our life experiences, and then allow ourselves to be transformed through faith it will lead us to our own transfiguration where we can SHINE the light of Christ into the world’s we live in because frankly, the world needs us to be shining God’s light each day.

And, in the vernacular of today that means we … you and me because we are the church … you are the church … we are the church together .. all who follow Jesus … all around … oh well, I didn’t include that hymn today but yes the ultimate truth of the strength or the failure of the church falls upon the people who call themselves Christian. We need to be leading and living for others because if we aren’t … if we don’t … if we join the dividers who exclude humans rather than include ALL then the closures of churches means that we are the failing church together when we could be so much more in today’s world.

It seems as we get older time gets shorter … as we get older we experience more losses and transitional moments. Yesterday, my rabbi, Rabbi Aaron Krauss of Beth El Synagogue in Margate called me as we were driving to Colleen’s to tell me that his wife had died earlier in the morning. We prayed together and this afternoon I will be at the services for Mildred. Aaron is in his early 90’s and still leading his synagogue. A man who has spent his life doing what God has called him to do … a man, my friend who walked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. … and we prayed together two clergy individuals and two friends … on the phone as I drove, and he mourned.

Earlier in the week my friend of my lifetime Paul McMenamin died. Paul was our village garbage man for many years. Never made a lot of money … never had any fame … but a man of faith and much more importantly as I read the notes about Paul it was that Paul lived a legacy impacting so many people. It was written that Paul “loved everyone” … this 6 foot 4 inch tall man was referred to as a “gentle giant” who always had time for everyone. Thankfully on my last trip to Buffalo we had some quality time together … what a legacy. Through his actions and through his words Paul is being remembered not for his politics … not for how much money he earned nor for what amazing mansion he owned, which he didn’t but for his love and his kindness. He lived a light shining love … just as God and Christ taught us to do.

And, there on the Mountain God declared … ‘THIS IS MY SON, whom I love dearly. LISTEN TO HIM!!!” My goodness … LISTEN TO HIM!!!

But to listen to Jesus means we have to be transformed … to listen to Jesus it means we then have to take what Jesus taught and apply it to our lives … to listen to Jesus means we … you and me … pastor and retiree … pastor and every day worker … pastor and volunteer … we need to be the ones who are “leading and living for others” by doing all we can to take on the Jesus challenge, which Jesus shared on the day He ascended into heaven … a challenge given strength by God’s gift to us when we believe … Jesus said, “”You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, in Swedesboro and Thorofare (Because in Jesus time the name had not yet been changed to West Deptford), throughout the Delaware Valley, into the mountains of Kentucky through the Red Bird Mission, and to the end of the earth.”“

Elisha witnessed God’s work and connection in Elijah and wanted twice the spirit that Elijah had. Elijah in his own way was a leader but more importantly he was living for God through his life … his daily actions. There is room for you and room for me to live in a way that encourages others to want what we have … a joy-driven spirit of faith … a faith where we have been restored by God by allowing God to work through us … “God wants to give us rest in the grassy meadows … God keeps trying to lead us to the restful waters where our souls can be kept alive and well. God’s Holy Spirit wants to guide us in proper paths.” So are you buying into it?

On Friday two memes appeared on my FACEBOOK, which you may have seen but these are messages reflective of those who are transformed and offer us a chance to live as people of faith whose impact is immense and powerful. Here’s what they said:

My mother once said hate has four letters but so does love. Enemies has 7 letters but so does friends. Lying has 5 letters but so does truth. Cry has 3 letters but so does joy. Negativity has 10 letters but so does positivity. Life is two-sided choose the better side!

The next one said, “When we die God isn’t going to ask us about the two men down the street who got married. He won’t ask us about the girl who had an abortion. He won’t ask about the atheist who lives on the corner or the woman who feels more comfortable as a man. God will ask us how we loved those people as God called us to do … and some of us didn’t.

Shane Claiborne, a remarkable man of faith who lives in the Kensington section of Philly said, “Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.” And, we started our worship service today with the words of BOOKER T WASHINGTON … “If you want to lift yourself up … lift someone else up.” It comes down to choices … it comes down to faith … the Lenten Season begins this Wednesday on Ash Wednesday and perhaps more than ever having the Lenten Season begin on Valentine’s Day matters because we are long past due to start loving God and loving all of our neighbors because you and I need to be transformed and through our transformation and then transfiguration we need to start talking about those who love others rather than bowing down to those who reject that concept! It’s time to SHINE CHURCH! AMEN

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