This sermon was given by our Reader Christine on Sunday 3 March 2019.
I’m sure many of us have been told as young children not to look at the sun or into a light bulb and I think there are probably quite a few of us that did just that because we had been told not to, me included.
Sometimes though the sun can catch you unaware, even when wearing sunglasses or with transitional lenses. Some of you may know I often walk in Heaton Park with my dog and my son’s and with the beautiful weather we have had, I’ve got to say, it has been very pleasant.
However, when I head back home and walk down a slope towards the gate, the sun, being quite low in the sky, has caught me out a few times even though I have darkened lenses and for a second or two I have been unable to see very much at all, because of the glare of the sun. I know, for instance I have seen people coming through the gate walking towards the path, but in that second I can’t see them except for shadowy outlines. As I get closer, I can make out the people, but not their features until I get more into the shade of the trees.
I imagine it must have been something like this that Peter, James and John experienced as they stood on the mountain looking at Jesus as he prayed in front of them, but this was something entirely different from the glare of the sun, this was God’s glory emanating through Jesus, his face, body and clothing. It was different from the experience of Moses whose face shone every time he talked with God. This was their friend, Jesus and he was with two other, quite clearly.
This was God’s way of confirming what Peter had suspected and what some of the disciples had begun to understand, that here in front of them stood the Messiah, the Son of God, confirming what the disciples had to begun to suspect and answer their question after the storm. “Who then is this that he commands even the winds and the waters and they obey him?” and to make sure there was no mistake God’s voice is heard to say, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ this was a statement. A confirmation of what Jesus had been teaching them since they met.
It’s no wonder Peter wanted to savour the moment and to hold on to it for as long as he could, which is why he impulsively suggested they should build three dwellings.
The following is how Nick Fawcett imagines Peter reactions:
“I wanted to hold on to that moment for ever, to keep things just as they were for the rest of eternity, for I feared life would never be so special again.
It was just the four of us – well six if you count Moses and Elijah, but I’m not sure you can do that – the four of us sharing a blessed moment of peace and quiet;
No crowds pleading for a miracle
No lepers begging for healing,
No Pharisees baying for his blood,
No Sadducees spoiling for a fight.
Together, as we’d all too rarely been.
And we knew it couldn’t last; he’d made that perfectly clear when I dared suggest otherwise.
There was trouble round the corner, his enemies waiting to pounce, and he knew it was only a matter of time before they got him.
Not much of a prospect was it – rejection, suffering, death?
I don’t know how he stuck it – I really don’t.
But we didn’t want to think about such things, not then anyway, and up there on the mountain it all seemed a million miles away, out of sight, out of mind.
Can you blame me for wanting to stay, for wanting to hang on to the moment for as long as possible?
Only I couldn’t, of course.
You can’t stop the clock, can you, and make the world stand still?
You can’t store those golden moments safely away, untarnished by the march of time.
Life goes on as they say, and you have to go with it, like it or not.
It was hard to accept that, hard to go back to the daily round with its familiar demands and expectations.
Yet as I spoke to Jesus, coming down the mountain, I realised suddenly it had to be; that there was no other way – going back, I mean.
Without that there would have been no point, those sacred moments an empty illusion.
He knew that, and slowly, very slowly, I came to know it too.
It was a vital time, a special time, one that gave him new strength, new resolve, the inspiration he needed to face the future and fulfil his destiny.
But it was as much for us as for him a moment we could look back upon, so that afterwards we might keep on looking forward.” (No Ordinary Man, p.97)
Looking forward to what?
Jesus we know had come not to change the laws of Moses, but to fulfil them and the prophesies of Elijah, but people would have to listen.
We know what the future held, perhaps this moment apart from affirming who Jesus was, gave him strength to face the events that were to follow.
Here at last stood the Messiah of that there was no doubt, God’s own words had confirmed it and to me they are some of the most important words we hear. “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.”
And listen the disciples did, oh I know they struggled when it came to the crunch; that some of them ran away, denied him and turned their back, but they returned.
At some point in all our lives we may have doubts, we may turn away when things are difficult, we may even get angry with God for events that have happened, but we all know that God is there whenever we are ready to seek him.
To talk to him, to tell him our troubles, to put our burdens on him, but we also need to remember to thank him for everything that we take for granted especially for giving us his Son, Jesus.
All we need to do is stop, listen and be still. I know how difficult it can be to find even 5 minutes in our busy lives and, as the sun continually shines, even though it may not be visible when it is cloudy, God’s glory shone through Jesus. It dazzled those who were present and when we are in his presence it can dwell in us too if we can be, but still and listen to God’s word. “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.”
- Loving God,
- there are some moments we never want to end,
- when we wish we could make time stand still
- and keep things just as they are for ever.
- But life is not like that, and neither is faith.
- It must always move on if it is to grow,
- always develop if it is not to grow stale.
- Help us then, through Jesus Christ,
- to be open to new experiences of your love
- and new insights into your greatness,
- and so may we know you a little more day by day.
- Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Christine Hardy, Reader @ St. Margaret’s & St. George’s. ©