In the Name of the Living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
We have just heard St. Matthew’s account of the Transfiguration. Peter, James and John are led by Jesus up to the top of the mountain, where they behold His glory unveiled, if only for a moment, and they are utterly and completely overcome.
This event, the Transfiguration, has captured the hearts and minds of Christians from the earliest days. The artistic among us will enjoy knowing that only our Lord’s Nativity and the Annunciation have more often been portrayed in art than the Transfiguration. Archeologists tell us that from the very beginning of Christian art, when many early Christians prepared for the burial of a loved one by drawing or carving stories from our Lord’s life on the sarcophagus, the Transfiguration is recognizably the event most frequently depicted.
Our sisters and brothers in the Eastern Orthodox Communion of Churches celebrate the Transfiguration as a principal feast – right up there with Christmas and Easter. In our own branch of the Church Catholic, we now read the account of the Transfiguration at least twice; today, the last Sunday before Lent, and on the 6th of August, when we read St. Luke’s slightly longer and more detailed version.
And, of course, I don’t have to remind you that here at Redeemer the Transfiguration plays a prominent — and even daily– role in our life and worship. Look no further than to your left into the Chapel of none other than the Transfiguration and you’ll see a stunning painting and reredos, both depicting the event we have just heard proclaimed in our midst.
But all of what I’m sharing so far simply sets the stage for what’s really at the heart of the Transfiguration.
A sudden voice from a blinding cloud proclaims: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased.” And then we get to the heart of the matter — Three little words: “Listen. To. Him.”
Now, as one who has been accused numerous times of not listening – particularly if it involves grocery lists, errands or when and where to pick up the kids – I’m keen on cultivating what some call the art of listening. And whether you’re a good listener or not, you have to admit that listening – truly receiving what is being said or offered – isn’t as easy as it seems.
There is a fairly well known story about Franklin Roosevelt, whose biographers all agree, hated formal receiving lines. He was known to complain to his aids that no one actually ever listened to him when they shook his hand. So, one day President Roosevelt decided to prove his point by changing what he said to each guest. Just as he shook their hand, he leaned in and said, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” Astonishingly, Roosevelt later said, no one ever noticed because, as he said all along, they weren’t listening.
Thus, it’s one thing to hear the words “Listen to Him”, by which I mean, it’s easy to hear the sounds and syllables. But, beloved, it’s an entirely different matter to actually and intentionally listen to Jesus. Continue reading ‘Sermon – Sunday March 2, 2014/Rev. Charleston D. Wilson’ »