2/26/2017: Transfiguration

Matthew 17:1-13 Last week was Peter’s identification of Jesus.  Jesus asked, “Who am I?” and Peter gave the right answer:  “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” This week we learn that it’s one thing to say it, and another thing to see it.  Before I went to the Grand Canyon, I could have said, “The Grand Canyon is a really big, very impressive national park.”  With a little research I could even have said, “The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and in some places over a mile deep.”  But that’s just book report. A whole different experience came during my family’s obligatory out-west trip as an 18-year-old.  We unloaded from our rental van and stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon.  It was near dusk.  The view went on from horizon to horizon, a huge rupture in the face of the earth.  My stomach flipped as I looked over the edge and saw just how deep a mile looks from above.  At that moment, all I could say was… “WHOA.” So here’s Peter – and James, and John – following Jesus up a mountain.  They’ve already given the book report about how Jesus is the Christ.  But now they’re about to see it. And what do they see? The gospels use a certain word to describe the event:  “transfigured.”  It comes from the root, “metamorphosis,” and it means “changed.”  It’s a strange word – not one we use in everyday talk.  What in the world does it mean to say Jesus was “transfigured”?  I think we’re...

2/12/2017 Sermon: Multiplication

Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus wanted some “me” time but he just couldn’t get it. Man, can I relate.  And not because I’m a pastor; it’s because I’m a mom.  Parents of the world, do you feel me? But before we talk about me – or us – let’s talk about Jesus.  Jesus wanted some “me” time on this particular day because he had just gotten some bad news.  His cousin, John the Baptist, had been killed by Herod.  Jesus is on his way to a deserted place to be by himself – no people needing healing, no disciples needing teaching, just Jesus and God and creation.  A little much-needed quiet time to grieve his loss and refresh his soul.  He even takes a boat there – what better way to ensure you’ll be alone than to head off in a vehicle by yourself? As he cruises across the Sea his weary soul is eagerly anticipating some space and silence.  As he steers toward land he’s mentally picking out his sitting spot.  As the shoreline comes into view he sees… …a crowd? His “deserted place” is far from deserted.  While he’s been sailing the crowds have been running.  They’re waiting for him.  They’re sick and they want healing.  They’re lost and they want leading.  They want him. While I’m hesitant to compare myself to Jesus, I think any parent knows what this moment feels like. I knew parenting would be hard.  Who wouldn’t guess that?  You’re responsible for a human being.  I figured my children would need a lot of attention.  I assumed they would change my life.  But I had...

2/5/2017 Sermon: Domination

Matthew 8:18-27 This is not a story about how Jesus calms our storms. It is very much a story about how Jesus calmed a storm.  On this day he and his disciples got into a boat to cross the sea of Galilee.  Jesus had been teaching and healing and answering questions, and he was tired.  He curled up in the front of the boat, with old fishing nets as a makeshift mattress.  Jesus continued to snooze as a storm gathered.  He snoozed as waves rocked the boat.  He snoozed as the wind got so strong, it looked like they might tip.  He kept right on snoozing as the water poured in over the sides of the boat.  Finally, the disciples couldn’t take it anymore; they woke the Son of Man up from his well-deserved rest: “SAVE US, JESUS!  WE’RE GONNA DIE!” I don’t know about Jesus, but I’m really grumpy if my nap is cut short.  Maybe he took a moment to throw the disciples a stern look before responding.  Then he stood up and directed a few short words at the wind and the waves.  It was like a switch had been flipped; the water turned to an early-morning stillness and the wind dropped so dead, it wouldn’t even ripple a flag.  Everything was still. I picture Jesus rolling back to sleep as he mutters something like, “Didn’t you have any faith at all, scaredy-cats?” Isn’t this a great story, the day when Jesus calmed a storm?  It’s so powerful that it tempts us to make it about our storms.  I want it to be about how Jesus...