A Transfiguration Experience

8th Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: Exodus 24:12-18,St Matthew 17:1-9

The Greeks understood that a transfiguration was much more than a transformation from the inside that reveals itself on the outside. It is an inside experience that causes a total change in the spiritual life and completely changes the individual who then becomes a new person.

We can see that first reference in Exodus when we read about Moses and his encounter with the Lord on the mountaintop. God called him to the mountaintop where he encountered God’s presence. He spent 40 days on that mountain with the presence of God. It was there that God gave him two stones tablets with the Ten Commandments. God then told him to return to the people below. As Moses descended from the mountain, the people could not and would not look at him; his face was frightening, as bright as the sun and his clothes as bright as a million candles. The people were afraid to look at him!

The transfiguration of Jesus was the Lord’s way to teach Peter, James and John as well as all of us who Jesus really was. Can we even imagine that experience? The disciples saw Jesus talking with Moses and Elijah. It was believed that they would return from the dead, the sign that the Messiah had come. This was evidence to the disciples that Jesus was truly the Messiah.The transfiguration of Jesus was a divine key that would enable the disciples to carry Jesus’ message to the whole world. They did not fully understand that transfiguration of Jesus until after his crucifixion, death and resurrection from the dead.The people remembered the voice heard at Jesus’ baptism as he came up from the water: “This is my beloved Son; I am well pleased with him.”

There are times in scripture that God tried to get His people to understand how much He loved them and offered His only beloved Son as a ransom for our sins. Time and time again God showed His great love for all of us.

Recall the 40 years journey in the wilderness. The people were up in arms against Moses for bringing them out into that wilderness journey. They were dying of thirst and starving to death. God told Moses to strike a rock and water came pouring out of it for all to drink and to water their animals. To feed them, God sent manna to fall from heaven and quail to provide meat to fill their bellies.
The transfigurations in the Holy Scripture are the gifts from the Heavenly Father to give ample evidence of the depth of His love for us. It is my deepest desire and hope that the Holy Father will give each and every one of us a transfiguration encounter to experience the love of God for each of us. And that encounter will equip us to walk daily with Him regardless of what is happening in our lives.

Remember that God loves you and I love you too.

Let us pray.

A Call to Love

7th Sunday of Epiphany  
Scripture: St Matthew 5:38-48,1st Corinthians 3:10-11

The call of a Christian is first and foremost a call to Love. In fact, Jesus himself said that others would know that we are His disciples by the love that we share to all others. We are called to love because we have been loved by the Lord. The truth is we have been loved when we were enemies of God. Christ died for us while we were sinners. It is that same love that God shows us that we are to share and offer to all others. It is an unexpected, extravagant love. We are called to love not with our voices, but with our hearts and actions to all others.

In Leviticus 19, many of the verses of scripture express a multitude of different loving expressions. Moses’ speech to the entire ensemble of Israelites is about many ways we express God’s love to others. We are to be Holy because our God is Holy.

Some examples of different ways to express our love:

Don’t reap the whole field of grain; leave several rows around the field for the gleaners’ and the wild animals. When gathering your grapes for fruits and wine, gather only one time, leave the unripe to ripe and leave to the gleaners’ and bird of the air. Show you true love by not withholding wages from your worker, not even for one night. Don’t pervert justice or show partiality to anyone. Don’t spread lies or slander among your people. Don’t do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life, says the Lord. Don’t reap revenge or hold a grudge among your people but love your neighbor as yourself ways the Lord. Thus we must love your neighbor regardless of whom they are or where they love. All these actions carry love to a much deeper level.

In Matthew. the words written in 5:38, Jesus takes the actions of love to a greater and deeper level. He calls us to love our neighbors, to love everyone, even our enemies, as they are all His beloved children. We are to love regardless of what they do to us. He also instructs us that if you are requested to go one mile, go two. The first is what is required of you to do; the second mile shows that you love Him even if He requires you to do something for Himself. This shows how much God loves both of you.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 these words: “By the Grace of God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Let us pray.

Life or Death

6th Sunday of Epiphany
Scripture: Deuteronomy 30:15-20 , St Matthew 5:21-37

According to Deuteronomy 30:15-20, every day life and death, blessings and curses are set before us. Blessings are waiting for us if we will love the Lord and walk in His ways and keep His commandments. However, if our hearts turn away and refuse to listen and obey, we will have spiritual death. What will you and I choose; a blessed life or spiritual death?

God’s commandments are for our well being. The Psalmist wrote in Psalms 119:1-2 that those who walk in the Lord’s instructions are truly happy. Those who guard God’s laws are also truly happy for God is in their hearts. Following God’s commandments brings happiness and wholeness to their lives. While the blessing God’s desires for us goes even deeper than that, it means that our hearts rest in God’s Holiness.

In Matthew 5, Jesus makes it clear that if we keep the commandments of God He opens our hearts and gives us a deeper reality of His love for us. We have heard that is said “don’t commit murder”, but it is implied that if we are angry with a brother or sister we will be in danger of judgment. If we say “you fool” we will be in danger of the fires of Hell. We need to be very careful of the curses that rule our hearts, like anger or malice, so it does not rub off into our lives and actions.

Everyday we have a choice. Every second, every moment we choose. Will we choose life in the Lord or spiritual abandonment and the fire of Hell? Will our disobedience reap destruction and consequences? Will we obey God’s commandments and receive the blessings the Lord offers us? God desires to bless us. He desires that we not merely survive but to live in the fullness of His love and blessings.

Today’s message reminds me of the sin of omission and the sin of co-mission. While we would not and do not strive to sin, we all do it daily by not living up to the will of the Lord. Daily we live in a world of sin and death. That is not the way that the Lord desires us to live. We all fall short of the abundance of God’s blessings when we allow the ways of this world to take center stage in our hearts and lives blocking the blessings of the Lord to rule our lives.

May we all seek to center our hearts and our tongues to the blessings of the Lord and not on earthly things.

Let us pray.

Meaningless Worship

5th Sunday of Epiphany
Scripture: Isaiah 59:1-9 St Matthew 5:13-20

The text for today is a strong and clear example of meaningless worship.

Like many of us today, many Israelites were doing all the right worship things. But they were also doing all kinds of the things that were absolutely the wrong things for worshipers to do. Their worship habits and their lifestyles were completely at odds with one another. They quarreled and brawled and then fasted. God made it quite clear that was not what he desired.

When we gather to worship are we here to please ourselves or to serve and please our Lord? If we are to please our Lord in no uncertain terms, He wants our worship to break the chains of injustice. As a just God, He desires our worship to display justice for all, not just for a loved one or a few close friends. We are to be God’s warriors fighting for just treatment for all His beloved people.

As a warrior for the Lord, we should be actively fighting for the homeless, the outcasts in our midst, provide food and clothes for those in need, helping those suffering who need healthcare and especially for those who don’t know Him as a loving and caring Lord.

The church is said to be a sleeping giant. It is time to awake up to the needs of all God’s children.
So once again I ask, are we here to worship to please and satisfy our needs and desires, or are we awakened to the shallowness of our lack of real concern to the masses in our community, state, nation and the world?

Often the ways we worship falls all to short of God’s desires and love, not just for ourselves, but for all God’s children.

Matthew’s text asks us: Does our praise to God display that we are warriors for His kingdom on earth and a reflection of His Heavenly Kingdom?

Worship is so much more than lifting our voices in song, in prayers or in speaking. There are so many other ways we can worship the Lord.

We can watch the news for an excellent example of those who showed real worship. As an avalanche destroyed a hotel, many were buried alive. There were those who came to search, some using their hands in the snow to search the buildings for survivors. Hearing voices above them a couple huddled together for another 60 hours before they saw the light of day. Not only did they find many alive, but they also found 4 or 6 newborn puppies. They had been without food or drink for several days. Shortly thereafter they found the mother and reunited the pups with her.

This is one example of real worship. Real worship is that we see that the need is there and as we are the hands and feet of God, we put the action in our life.

Gracious Lord, open our hearts and actions to see that real worship in more than praising God with our voices. Real worship is being on the front lines, fighting for God in a multitude of ways.

Let us pray.