Believe it or not, we have reached the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. Lent will begin this week! Whether you are using the Revised Common Lectionary or Narrative, this week’s texts describe the Transfiguration. What message will your people hear before beginning the journey to the cross on Wednesday?

myokaqMRCL preachers: what do you do with Luke’s vision of Jesus with Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop? Peter and James and John are scared into silence. And then they head down the mountain and meet a great crowd of people, where Jesus casts out a demon. There is so much going on in this Gospel passage, but much of it is difficult to translate into the lived experiences of 21st-century Christians. How are you bringing the good news to your people through this text?

The other RCL readings describe Moses’ shining skin and his need for a veil. This could be connected to the Transfiguration story, or preached on its own. Paul interprets Moses’ need for a veil as hiding his weakness from the people, which is certainly not how it is portrayed in Exodus. Where do you go with that? And the Psalm for today praises God’s greatness, and could easily be the basis for a sermon all on its own. You can find discussion from earlier this week on the RCL passages here.

The Narrative Lectionary pairs the Transfiguration in Mark with the confession of Peter. In the course of 5 verses, Peter goes from declaring Jesus to be the Messiah, to Jesus accusing him of being Satan. There are many interpretive paths that a preacher could explore… our faithful confessions on Sunday mornings without the follow-up of a faithful lifestyle… even the best leaders are flawed and make mistakes… Jesus expects his followers to lose their life for his sake… recognizing the glory of God whether it comes through a traveling companion or a voice from heaven. This page includes some additional ideas and reflections.

In the U.S.A. this is the first Sunday in Black History Month. I’m finding it difficult to write a sermon for this Sunday in which Jesus appearing in glory with clothes of dazzling white doesn’t sound like a glorification of whiteness, so I’m trying to weave in an acknowledgment of the potentially problematic race issues that this passage can evoke. Martin Luther King’s mountaintop may need to come into play here. What are your struggles? Where are your reflections taking you? How will your people experience the glory of God this weekend?

Wherever your writings are heading, preachers, welcome to the party! I’ve got some homemade fudge to share. Pull up a chair, help yourself, and happy writing!

 

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45 thoughts on “11th Hour Preacher Party – Ooh, Shiny!

  1. Once again starting to write on Saturday evening. The sermon can be short as i am including a reflection from Spill the Beans [2013], and it is communion Sunday. Focusing on the transfiguration, and how moments of awe and mystery lead us into serving.

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  2. Enjoying a rare Saturday free if sermon writing, so still in bed. I have snoring pups beside me and the hubby is working away on our fixer upper. I finished my sermon on Thursday as was determined to have a clear Saturday for once.
    I am a NL gal, so lots to work through in our text. I focus initially on Peter, who goes from top if the class to being in the dunces corner. I love Peter, he is each of us. Proof you don’t need to be perfect to be a leader.
    I give a mention or three of Lent beginning and the walk to the cross starting. And how it is transformed from a symbol of cruelty to a symbol of love, peace, hope and joy.
    We then head to the wonderful mountain top. I have been to Mount Tabor, it is a very very special place. You can’t help but be transfigured/transformed by being there. Incidentally the chapel there has two side chapels, one for Elijah and one for Moses…..the tents Peter wanted to put up? Any way I finish with a challenge to my folks to transform someone else’s life through an act of kindness this week.
    I am still in bed having a lie in, so haven’t eaten yet. I have butteries ( a North East Scotland delicacy, kind of like a heavy flattened croissant) so if you fancy joining me, you are welcome.

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  3. I am exhausted. It has been a grueling couple of weeks and its not over yet. I will spend most of this day leading a Vestry retreat. Tomorrow I have two worship services and an adult forum. Then a day off then I set up for Lent and Ash Wednesday….I wrote my sermon yesterday morning but its choppy and the ending doesn’t work. I am working mostly from Luke and the Transfiguration. I make reference to “ontology” as in the kind of ontological change that we seminarians talked about as we prepared for ordination. We wondered, would we “feel” different? Its all kind of funny in retrospect, it was even then, as most of us did not “feel” any different, and yet we were different. I am always keenly aware of the “collar” I wear, whether I am wearing it or not.Then I talk a bit about how God works on us from the inside out.

    I hope to get some time, and energy, to work on it today. But, I may not.

    IF anyone has any good endings to share, anything that remotely points to “God shinning forth through us” I’d appreciate it. Even just a sentence would help. (LOL)

    🙂

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    1. I like the point about being different even if you don’t feel different – some changes are quite obvious, as with Jesus on the mountaintop, and some only show up gradually or in retrospect. It sounds like you’ve got a good sermon, even if you’re not too sure about the actual sentences and whatnot. Here’s hoping that you find some time to give it another read-through today so you can feel more confident about it!

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    2. Feasting Theological by Thomas Currie does a nice job connecting the Exodus text. I like where he says Moses is “stamped” by God’s reflected (end of epiphany season) glory. He is changed and doesn’t even know it. I’m not taking that any further but it feels like it could be unpacked with the clueless disciples… changed but not aware of it yet?

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  4. finished, but it is too long. I think i will leave out the recap of Luke 9, as it isn’t as important as i thought it was going to be. Asylum seekers and the treatment of asylum seekers is a big topic in Australia at the moment and especially this week. i am sure some people will be unhappy to hear me speak about this from the pulpit.
    Awe and Service

    the kettle is on, and it is almost bed time for me. hope your Saturdays are smooth and the sermons are written quickly.

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  5. As yet again, (why does Jesus make them climb and come back down so often? hmmmmmmm) I journey to the mountaintop with Jesus, Peter, John and James , an ear worm has made it’s way into my brain ‘Climb every mountain and ford every stream’ which leads me to think about the theme of discipleship. That’s a good link because for Lent I am preaching a series based on the six chaptered book ‘Bullseye: Aiming to Follow Jesus’ which is all about discipleship! Also, with tongue in cheek (sort of) I can’t help but wonder if Peter was ‘yurting’ 😉 I made a banana/chocolate chip/walnut loaf last night so bring along your tea or coffee, cut yourself a thick slice and join the preacher party.

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    1. The Sound of Music is currently playing at our local theater… I may need to borrow your “climb every mountain” line! Happy writing, and thanks for the snacks 🙂

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  6. I’m off to Presbytery with only jumbled thoughts of a sermon. Hoping to get some clarity throughout the day. The direction it is going at the moment is to highlight the experiences that help us remember who we are so that we might be equipped to proclam, in word and action, the grace, love, and justice of God from the mountain tops and in the valleys. Blessings to you all as you prepare!

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    1. Your second sentence could definitely be expanded into an entire sermon! Blessings as you work to un-jumble your thoughts today.

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  7. I have only a jumble of thoughts, about one or two for different directions. Not enough in any one direction to have a reflection and the directions are too far apart to make a cohesive reflection. I am tempted to find and preach the Tfigg sermon from a few years ago. I was sick, so a member of the congregation read it. We have had enough turnover of people and it would be in a differentt voice that I doubt anyone would notice. And, I am pretty sure people don’t really care if the same sermon is used occasionally

    Having said that, I am wondering how to use a story or two from Desmond Tutu. I don’t remember which book but he tells a story of being at a meeting of national leaders, during apartheid, held at a closed seminary. He takes a breather in a garden. He comes to realize that this barren winter scene would be green and flowering in a matter of weeks. He sees this as the transfiguration of the garden. He moves from that observation to the realization that the earth would and does experience transfiguration.

    A short bit later he tells of visiting a home for people with AIDS and seeing a couple of young white men very tenderly and lovingly bathing, feeding and rocking a mixed race woman. During the height of apartheid. This moment was a powerful image of transfiguration.

    These excerpts will preach. Just wish I had a clear (wold settle for semi-clear) thesis. And an ending. I And a beginning. Sigh.

    There is a fresh pot of coffee. When the 12 year old son and his friends wake up, (or the almost 16 year old, but he sleeps like the dead), there will be french toast and bacon.

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    1. I’ll take some french toast, thanks! Those Desmond Tutu stories will definitely preach. I like the image of all of creation experiencing transfiguration, not just Jesus and not just people, but the trees and bushes and even the earth. Praying you’ll find a way in to the sermon and that the rest will follow easily!

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  8. Good (?) morning, all! I’ve been sick since Wednesday, cancelling everything I did not absolutely have to do and then some. In a burst of energy last night,I wrote a sermon — not my greatest effort but I had been writing it in my head all week. I had been thinking about how Jesus needs friends, too — ancestors in faith and buddies in the present — and got all excited to see that Caludio Corvalhaes had written some of them same on WP, so I quoted him at some length. For all of you McCormick Seminary people, he preached at the PC(USA) stewardship conference last year, and you can hear his voice in every phrase. I can only hope that people will be able to hear mine tomorrow!

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  9. I think I’ll be spending time with you today. I was supposed to have a guest preacher tomorrow (note the word “was”); but she had to cancel due to an emergency. So I’m unexpectedly in sermon-writing mode. My first instinct is to talk about the things that strike us with awe – sports teams, rock stars, etc. – and how their radiance is short-lived. But even a glimpse of God’s radiance can shed light into the darkest scariest places. Tomorrow is our annual meeting, and the congregation will be faced with yet another deficit budget and the need to use more of their dwindling reserves. That is, perhaps, one of the dark, scary places that needs the light of God to illumine it.

    That’s all I have at the moment, except some cinnamon rolls to share from my favorite bakery.

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    1. Yes to the cinnamon rolls! This text seems to pair well with your annual meeting and the worries that some may be brining to the table. Blessings as you get your thoughts down on paper (or computer screen).

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  10. Just came across a great cartoon for this week’s Exodus reading … now to figure out a way to share it with my technology challenged (as in none) congregation. It shows God introducing Steve Jobs to Moses: ”Moses meet Steve, he’s gonna upgrade your tablets’ A much needed smile during sermon preparation.

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  11. I will be preaching on Thursday at a new-to-me church for a weekday eucharist service. I am pondering the Transfiguration as what Lent calls us all to do – transfigure into more and more of a likeness of Christ in & for the world. Not original for sure, but it gives me some energy to ponder it that way.

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    1. Lent calls us to transfiguration – I like it. And it seems like a broad enough message that the new-to-you congregation should be able to relate. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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  12. I am pairing this poem with the scripture for tomorrow. And this Maya Angelou quote: “Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.”

    The sermon title will be “Trailing Wisps of Glory.” I don’t like undefined “churchy-sounding” words. So I hope to give some understanding of God’s glory (vs. our own striving) and also to help folks re-discover or re-cover their own glorious connection to the face of God. Moses begs to see God’s glory but is only granted the “back” and the disciples on the mountain see Jesus’ glory. MMMM… I don’t think that it was Jesus’ human glory, (the striving) but the glory of God shining thru him.

    I have a sitter here today (2 shifts) to keep me in my study and to help me get household tasks done (I did the ironing– which is relaxing). The sitter also provides company and helps me to be able to manage things better as a single/widow. For that, I am very grateful. We start a bible/book study tomorrow so I need to figure out that too. I think that during the discussion we will label our “dark wood” (the trees) and the potential gifts that might be around the corner. We are doing Eric Elnes “Gifts of the Dark Wood” but I want to use some different modalities in terms of facilitating the study group…

    Sorry this is so long, but the poem has some great lines if you read it carefully. Especially the end.

    “The Transfiguration” by Edwin Muir, Scottish Poet, 1887-1959

    So from the ground we felt that virtue branch
    Through all our veins till we were whole, our wrists
    As fresh and pure as water from a well,
    Our hands made new to handle holy things,
    The source of all our seeing rinsed and cleansed
    Till earth and light and water entering there
    Gave back to us the clear unfallen world.
    We would have thrown our clothes away for lightness,
    But that even they, though sour and travel stained,
    Seemed, like our flesh, made of immortal substance,
    And the soiled flax and wool lay light upon us
    Like friendly wonders, flower and flock entwined
    As in a morning field. Was it a vision?
    Or did we see that day the unseeable
    One glory of the everlasting world
    Perpetually at work, though never seen
    Since Eden locked the gate that’s everywhere
    And nowhere? Was the change in us alone,
    And the enormous earth still left forlorn,
    An exile or a prisoner? Yet the world
    We saw that day made this unreal, for all
    Was in its place. The painted animals
    Assembled there in gentle congregations,
    Or sought apart their leafy oratories,
    Or walked in peace, the wild and tame together,
    As if, also for them, the day had come.
    The shepherds’ hovels shone, for underneath
    The soot we saw the stone clean at the heart
    As on the starting-day. The refuse heaps
    Were grained with that fine dust that made the world;
    For he had said, ‘To the pure all things are pure.’
    And when we went into the town, he with us,
    The lurkers under doorways, murderers,
    With rags tied round their feet for silence, came
    Out of themselves to us and were with us,
    And those who hide within the labyrinth
    Of their own loneliness and greatness came,
    And those entangled in their own devices,
    The silent and the garrulous liars, all
    Stepped out of their dungeons and were free.
    Reality or vision, this we have seen.
    If it had lasted but another moment
    It might have held for ever! But the world
    Rolled back into its place, and we are here,
    And all that radiant kingdom lies forlorn,
    As if it had never stirred; no human voice
    Is heard among its meadows, but it speaks
    To itself alone, alone it flowers and shines
    And blossoms for itself while time runs on.
    But he will come again, it’s said, though not
    Unwanted and unsummoned; for all things,
    Beasts of the field, and woods, and rocks, and seas,
    And all mankind from end to end of the earth
    Will call him with one voice. In our own time,
    Some say, or at a time when time is ripe.
    Then he will come, Christ the uncrucified,
    Christ the discrucified, his death undone,
    His agony unmade, his cross dismantled—
    Glad to be so—and the tormented wood
    Will cure its hurt and grow into a tree
    In a green springing corner of young Eden,
    And Judas damned take his long journey backward
    From darkness into light and be a child
    Beside his mother’s knee, and the betrayal
    Be quite undone and never more be done.

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    1. I’ll read through that poem carefully when I settle in to write this afternoon – thanks for sharing. I appreciate your commitment to using churchy words only if they’re explained, and your description of glory is great! Best wishes with the rest of your writing and thought process today.

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  13. It’s 1:30pm here and after countless hours of reading this week (thanks to many who shared links and ideas here!) I’m finally settling in to get a draft written. To address the race questions that the Transfiguration text brings up for me, I’ve decided to reference James Cone, which will resonate with many since we had a book group read “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” last spring. Hopefully I can move in to a description of God’s glory being the light that surrounds Jesus in today’s passage, a glory that could shine through any one of us as we’re doing God’s work down the mountain, in the everyday grit of life.

    At least, that’s where I think I’m going. There’s a fresh kettle of water for tea – help yourself and happy writing!

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  14. I’m plying together the strands of two sustainable sermons, but I’m not sure they say what I want to say to a congregation now starting to discuss whether they will go forward. This is a new one for me.

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  15. I uncharacteristically wrote the sermon earlier in the week and have yet to look at it today. I spent the morning waiting at the walk-in hours at our clinic with an ear-infected little one. I’m relieved at the diagnosis, because I was anticipating something along the lines of bronchitis, and the nurse really thought she had the flu. She should be able to go to church tomorrow, which relieves us of a Sunday Morning Babysitter Crisis.

    I added the optional verses about Jesus healing the boy with seizures. It’s a bit of a muddle of finding God in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary, and something about following God doesn’t allow us to isolate ourselves from our neighbors. It needs some tying together, at the very least. It’s probably more likely that it’s more than one sermon, which is a temptation I’ve successfully avoided for a while.

    Blessings to everyone writing! We have plenty of fluids to share 🙂

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    1. Well done on the early draft this week! I’ll need to rely on someone else to keep me company later tonight 🙂 Hoping that upon a read-through, you’ll find only one sermon, and it will be less muddled than you remember.

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  16. “Moses suggests that God’s glory does shine and that its beauty disconcerts. This glory silences our religious chatter and renders us blinking and confused in its light. Perhaps that is what holy ground feels like.” — Thomas W. Currie from Feasting on the Word…

    Love that. The “disconcerts” part. Am thinking of using an illustration about “Herman’s House of Hope” — an installation that is part of the Big Hope art exhibit at the Amer. Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Herman Wallace spent over 4 decades in solitary confinement in the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola. His conviction was overturned in 2013. Jackie Sumell asked (in 2003) Herman thru letter, I think, “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a 6 ft x 9 ft cell for over thirty years dream of?” And thus, Herman designed a community structure… the letters and plans and drawings are juxtaposed with a replica of his cell as part of the installation. Herman died just a couple of days after being freed.

    I think that Herman’s response to his confinement and this installation are disconcerting in the same manner that God’s glory disconcerts. We see God’s presence reflecting thru others and we are rendered mouth-gaping, while we see what needs to be seen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. God’s glory is disconcerting – that could certainly explain Peter’s blundering. I like the connection to Herman Wallace. His story is new to me, but definitely relatable.

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  17. I too was sick most of the week; stomach bug that hit last Sunday between the 8 & 10 am services. Fortunately, a retired pastor was preaching, as we’d had a congregation wide event Sat. So she preached and presided at the 10 am.

    Three days of ugh,(and missed a retreat) then Thur the Bishop’s Legislative Update and Luncheon. Friday preparing for Ash Wed, playing catch up, preparing for today – a 3.5 hour new council and team leader retreat which I led. Lunch w/folks and then a visit to a parishioner admitted this week to home hospice after a diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer. A wonderful day, but it is Sat evening, I’m whipped – energy of the day is spent. And No sermon. I’ve done some commentary reading, and obviously read the texts early in the week. No older Transfiguration Sunday sermons to re-cycle that are worthy of re-cycling. SO, praying to the Holy Spirit. The all day event last Sat was Asset Mapping, looking at our gifts/assets and imagining how God is calling us to be church here and now. So, a possibility, a thread of being open to being transformed…and the necessity of worship in order to go into the world to serve. I do really like the Desmond Tutu stories shared above; I’ve been thinking of him yesterday and today, as he was a speaker at the ELCA Youth Gathering in St. Louis, in ??? ’99 or 00, or 01 – it was a “mountain top” experience for me, a first step in my call to ordination.

    Enough rambling! Blessings to all..

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    1. Between Desmond Tutu and identifying the assets of your congregation (the places God shines through), hopefully something transfiguration appropriate will form itself soon!

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  18. After a long winter’s nap, some good conversation with a friend, and a very helpful article by Mary Luti shared by that friend (http://sicutlocutusest.com/2013/02/05/it-is-good-for-us-to-be-here-luke-928-36/),,, After all of that, I think I FINALLY have a direction.

    We don’t know what to do with God’s glory – we’re used to attributing glory to sports heroes, rock stars, etc. But God’s glory, when God allows us to glimpse it, is so much more than any of those. We want to preserve it, and that’s not a bad thing (thanks to Mary Luti’s article for redeeming Peter’s impulse to build something permanent). There is also another part of God’s kingdom, the part that is willing to step into the messiest parts of our lives and the messiest problems in our community, to bring light and healing and hope.

    We are called to be part of God’s kingdom, so it’s right that we spend time savoring God’s glory, and it’s also right that we spend time reaching out to care for our neighbor at their point of need, no matter how messy. As the church, the body of Christ, we are both of those. And with God’s help, we will continue to be both of those.

    I don’t have a script to share; just a detailed outline of the above. But I think that I’ll call it done.

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  19. It’s 10:30pm my time, and I hope that everyone is finished writing! I’m wrapping up the party with a glass of wine, and there’s plenty to share. If you’re still working, blessings to you, and may the Holy Spirit move quickly! Happy preaching to all.

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