Sermon by The Reverend Jodi L. Baron, Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, “Transfiguration Sunday”, Year C, Luke 9:28-36
August 8, 2016
“Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
In the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.
Is it good to see you all!
All week long, I have been grinning, smiling, from ear to ear. Christian & I decided that we were going to spend our first few weeks just meeting the fine folks of St. Philip’s. There’s a lot of history that we are walking into, as your new Rectors, so it seemed fitting that we listen to some of those stories. We’ve heard from some of the founding members, long-time summer residents, and year-round Northerners. We’ve prayed with people, taken calls from community members in crisis, and had folks stop us in the diner to ask us if we’re the new priests.
Thank you for making our welcome so extraordinary!
It’s kinda neat, you see, ever since we first experienced St. Philip’s, last summer as supply priests, Christian, the girls & I have been praying for this community. Praying for the efforts you were engaged in discerning who would be your next rector, for the time spent in waiting to be a holy time of hoping and reflecting and contemplating what God’s dream is for this next phase of the ministry through St. Philip’s.
It’s humbling and very exciting to realize that God has called us together.
In many ways, there are so many things that have changed, just in the past week. In some ways, the changes are quite obvious. For one, you have called your first Co-Rectors, one of your Co-Rectors is a female.
You have three new young girls in your midst!
In other ways, however, the changes will be more subtle and will take into account what you bring to the table, what we bring together.
Part of the change began with who comprised the Search team, who crafted the interview questions and devoted so much time to prayer and study of each of the candidates.
Part of the change happened due to the time and energy and care and prayer the Sr. Warden put into leading this congregation until we could get here.
We are grateful beyond measure to be your new Rectors. We are delighted for the opportunity God has provided for us to work together to bring about God’s mission in this county and beyond.
St. Philip’s is a special place, filled with special people, surrounded by a cloud of faithful witnesses who’ve put their blood, sweat, and tears into making this church a meaningful presence in this community.
And so, in some ways, we are changing as we begin something new.
Because we’re new Rectors, and because new people will come, and every time someone new enters into the midst of us, we change.
We change by virtue of being in relationship with one another.
As we form bonds of affection for one another and do the work of God, we change each other. And God changes us!
But in some very important ways, we won’t change. The history that has been written within these walls and in this community is still being written and built upon. And your personal ministries will look similar and continue to change. This Church is alive. It will live and move and breathe. It will change.
Our work will look different than any of your other Rectors, but it will, nevertheless, be a continuation of the incredible ministry they had among you.
Christian & I will be attending our first vestry meeting this coming Tuesday, we both went to our first lunch brunches, we’ve both made our first initial visits and witnessed our first baby pantry day.
It’s all very exciting, but we also covet your prayers as we navigate the waters of a new church, a new town, new doctors, and schools, and people around every corner. We ask for your prayers for our beautiful daughters, that our ministry as your Rectors will only serve to reveal the love God has for his church in the way we care for one another. We ask for you to join us in praying for God to release the potential that lies within these pews to be the church God is wooing us into becoming. Pray with us for us to have the courage to listen deeply to what God is inviting our community to become.
You know, in many ways, this feast day of The Transfiguration is quite fitting for it being our first Saturday/Sunday service. Thanks, God.
You see, this experience that Luke revealed in today’s lesson, was an experience like most of us only wish for. For a time in deep prayer and devotion that reveals prophets and sages in our midst, encouraging us for the work we are about to face. For that time of prayer to manifest in the form of a cloud, like it did for Moses on Mt. Sinai, and at Jesus’ baptism, where God speaks to reveal the special ministry of this servant of his and that we need to listen.
I like to think, however, for us, the church, Christ’s hands and feet, that the Holy Spirit is the one to whom God is speaking about through our cloud. The Holy Spirit is the gift which God has given us to listen to, promising us that she will be our Advocate, our Guide, and sustain us in our ministry in the valley, when we walk down the mountain and get to work.
We weren’t made to stay in the moment of The Transfiguration, it’s meant to serve as a reminder of the divinity that is within each of us who call Christ our Lord.
Each time we walk up to this table and eat our God, we are filled with the same divinity that changed Christ’s face on the mountain we heard about in today’s gospel.
Each time we feed someone who is hungry, visit someone who is sick, clothe someone who is naked, give shelter to someone who is wandering…Jesus is in us.
Each bottle and diaper and car seat we give to someone in need, Jesus is in us.
Each time we sign up to help with something around here; weeding, counting, acolyting, altar guild-ing, reading, taking communion to someone who can’t get to church…we are being Christ’s love and making real God’s dream for humanity. That we love God and love one another.
And isn’t that what our world is so desperate for? For someone to show the way to be love to each other? To show us how kindness and love are always greater than selfishness and greed? To see that our God is a God of abundance and not of scarcity?
I pray, brothers and sisters, that as we each go about our week, we will remember the ways in which Christ was changed on that mountain and invites us to be changed by our encounter with God.
I pray that as we feed upon our God, we will be strengthened to be different this week, to be bolder in our love, more radical in our hospitality, more compelling with our words of kindness. That we will listen to Christ’s words for how we should live, and move, and have our being.
This is God’s church, and we are God’s people, called to love and serve the world, down there, out there, in here, right now.
“Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Amen.