Year B Transfiguration Mark 9 2012
Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University wrote a remarkable study of the significance of the person and work of Jesus Christ titled Jesus Through the Centuries. Dr. Pelikan demonstrates how Jesus has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture. Each age has made Jesus relevant to its own needs. Jesus has furnished each new age with answers to fundamental questions as every generation has had to address new social problems that tested the more fundamental questions of human existence. The world had to take note of Jesus as a rabbi, as the Cosmic Christ, the Ruler of the World, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Man, the True Image of Man, the Great Liberator. In many other ways Jesus furnished the answers and the images that affected society in positive ways.
Dr. Pelikan's thesis is that Jesus did not and does not belong to the churches and the theologians alone, but that he belongs to the world. None of this is to say that we can make Jesus what we want Jesus to be. Quite the opposite. It is to say that the Christ is adequate for all our needs and that Jesus transcends culture in such a way that he is able to belong to each age and to address the issues of all time. To understand that, we can do no better than to look to the Holy Gospel for today, which celebrates the transfiguration of our Lord. In that momentous event we learn how and why Jesus belongs to the centuries. Look with me for a moment at all the small elements of this story and you too will see why Jesus belongs to the world and to the ages. Let's look first at...
- The Event
- The Happening
- A Reaction
- Some Gibberish
- It Was Not To Be
- Our View
- Our Hope
Let Your Diamond-Light Shine
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
[Begin your sermon by scanning your congregation intently. After saying nothing for a period as you scrutinize your people, offer this explanation for your behavior:]
How many of you [or, "it looks like some of you"] celebrated Valentine's Day with a little bit of "bling!?" The holiday that elevates the warmth of our love and the softness of our hearts also pushes us to do so with something cold and hard — a diamond.
Diamonds, we are continually reminded, are forever. That's why they are worthy of a significant financial investment. Diamonds are expensive because they are rare, elusive, and found only in tiny bits and pieces. Yet if you could travel 50 light years away from Earth, to star BPM 37093, located in the Centaurus constellation, you would arrive at "Lucy" — a burned out sun, a "white dwarf," whose entire central core is a planet-sized chunk of crystallized carbon — a diamond. 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats worth, to be precise.
This "space diamond" was named "Lucy" after the Beatle's hit, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." By comparison, the largest earth-diamond, the Golden Jubilee Diamond, is 545 carats — a sandal toe full of diamond "sand" on one of Lucy's dunes.
Diamonds are a chosen and cherished gem because of their sparkle and glow. They ignite with a kind of inner fire when the light hits them. Unfortunately for "Lucy," that means that the solid diamond core of that dwarf star is as unremarkable and unassuming as any other stone. You could take a drawer full of exquisite diamond gemstones and dump them in a drawer and — without the gift of reflective light—-you wouldn't know you had anything different than a box of rocks.
The miracle of reflected light is what Transfiguration Sunday is all about. In both the gospel and the epistle texts, it is the miracle of divine light that "transforms" and "transfigures" the moment and the message. In the gospel text the brilliance, the purity, of the light that illumines Jesus — a brightness "such as no one on earth could bleach them" — is what first attracts the attention of Jesus' disciple-companions to the mountaintop meeting...