|Second Sunday in Easter, Year A||May 1, 2011||Second Sunday of Easter, Year A||Acts 2:14a, 22-32, I Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday||April 24, 2011||Easter Day, 2011||Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; John 20:1-18|
|Good Friday||April 22, 2011||Good Friday||John 18:1-19:42|
|Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011||April 21, 2011||Maundy Thursday||1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35|
|Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011||April 17, 2011||Palm Sunday||Mathew 27|
|Fifth Sunday in Lent – Raising of Lazarus||April 10, 2011||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A||Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-45|
|Fourth Sunday in Lent||April 3, 2011||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A||John 9:1-41; Psalm 23|
|Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||March 20, 2011||Second Sunday in Lent, Year A||Genesis 12: 1-4a; Romans 4:1-5, 13-17; John 3: 1-17, Psalm 121|
|First Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2011||March 13, 2011||First Sunday in Lent, Year A||Matthew 4:1-11, Romans 5:12-19, Romans 8:18-25|
|Ash Wednesday Sermon||March 9, 2011||Ash Wednesday||Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21|
|➤Last Sunday After Epiphany||March 6, 2011||Last Sunday after Epiphany||Matthew 17:1-9|
|Don’t Worry About Tomorrow||February 27, 2011||Eighth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Isaiah 49:8-16a; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5; Matthew 6:24-34|
|Choose Life||February 13, 2011||Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37|
|We are the Salt of the Earth||February 6, 2011||Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 5:13-20, Isaiah 58:1-12|
|Shalom||January 30, 2011||Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Year A||Matthew 5:1-12|
Last Sunday After Epiphany
Sermon Date:March 6, 2011
Scripture: Matthew 17:1-9
Liturgy Calendar: Last Sunday after Epiphany
"We’ve got some difficult times ahead.
But it really doesn’t matter to me now.
I’ve been to the mountaintop.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.
Longevity has its place.
But I’m not concerned about that now.
I just want to do God’s will.
And He’s allowed me to go to the mountain.
And I’ve looked over
And I’ve seen the Promised Land.
I may not get there with you.
But I want you to know that tonight, that we, as a people
will get to the Promised Land.
I’m happy tonight.
I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man.
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
On the night of April 3, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King, in his usual riveting manner, told his audience that he had been to the mountaintop.
And it was on that mountaintop that Martin Luther King heard the voice of God calling him out of his comfortable role as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Calling him into the valley of discrimination, calling him to become a leader of the civil rights movement, to go hungry, to be imprisoned, to suffer injuries and insults, and on April 4, 1968, to become a martyr for the cause of justice, shot to death by an assassin.
All because God allowed Martin Luther King to go to the mountain, and God let him see the Promised Land.
Now Jesus, right after he was baptized, was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And the scripture tells us that the devil took Jesus up a very high mountain
And showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
And the devil said to Jesus,
“All these I will give you, if only you will fall down and worship me.”
And Jesus looked down into the valleys from the top of that very high mountain. He looked down into the Promised Land,
And he saw hopeless people who hadn’t heard any good news in a long, long time.
He saw hungry people.
He saw people who were abused and oppressed.
He saw paralytics, and epileptics and demoniacs.
He saw people in power who wanted more and more power.
He saw people at war.
He saw that the people couldn’t find God anymore.
Yes, Jesus saw that the devil had taken over the Promised Land
And Jesus knew that more of the devil’s own techniques –more oppression and more violence—would not save the people.
And so he turned to the devil and said
“Away with you, Satan!”
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
The devil left him, and suddenly angels came down and waited on Jesus.
And that was the last temptation that Jesus faced. Now if you were Jesus, on a mountain close to God, surrounded by caring angels, wouldn’t you want to stay on that mountain forever?
But Jesus had looked over into the Promised Land.
And now, all he wanted to do was God’s will.
So Jesus did not stay on that mountaintop with the angels.
Instead, Jesus went down into the Valley,
He preached the Good News.
He fed the hungry.
He healed the sick, and he cast out demons.
And great crowds followed him.
And one of the people in that crowd was Peter.
When Jesus saw how many people were following him, he took them all up the mountain.
And Peter and the people listened to the great teaching that we know as the Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus taught them how to look down into the valley with new eyes, with new understanding.
He taught them who is truly blessed.
He taught them how to worship, and how to pray, and how to live without worry. He taught them not to judge. He taught them
“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
And then Jesus and his followers came down from the mountain, back into the valley of the Promised Land, so broken and so torn, and
they continued to do God’s will—preaching the good news, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and casting out demons.
And Jesus calmed the storms, and walked on water,
And everyone wondered—“What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the seas obey him?”
Peter heard Jesus preach the Good News. Peter saw the mighty power of Jesus’ healing touch.
Peter was in the boat the night Jesus calmed the storms.
Peter was with Jesus when Jesus went up on the mountain again with great crowds following him.
For three days on that mountain, Peter saw Jesus healing the people, caring for them like an angel.
And the crowd heard the mute speaking, and they saw the maimed made whole,
They saw the lame walking,
And the blind seeing.
And the people praised the God of Israel.
But after three days, they were hungry.
And Jesus had compassion on them.
“They have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat, and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.”
And so Jesus took seven loaves of bread, and a few small fish, and he fed four thousand people on that mountain before sending them home.
And so when Jesus and the disciples travelled to Caesarea Philippi,
And Jesus asked the disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”
From that time, Jesus began to teach his disciples that he would go to Jerusalem. He would suffer, and he would be killed, and on the third day, he would be raised.
And Peter couldn’t imagine that doing God’s will would mean suffering and death for God’s son, so he rebuked Jesus.
“Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus shouted. “Peter, you have your mind on human things.”
“But I have been to the mountain top, and I have seen the Promised Land, and all I want is to do God’s will in the valley.
If you want to follow me, you have to take up your cross.”
Six days pass.
Jesus takes Peter and James and John with him up the high mountain that towers over Caesarea Philippi.
And there on top of that high mountain, the disciples see something happen to Jesus. They see his face shine like the sun, they see his cloths become dazzling white.
And suddenly they see Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus.
And Peter is captivated. And Peter is tempted.
Forget suffering and death. Forget the Promised Land, forget the valley. Let’s stay on this mountain.
“Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
And then God overshadows them in a bright cloud and speaks, speaks the same words he spoke at the baptism of his only Son.
“This is my beloved Son, with him I am well pleased.”
“Listen to him.”
Full of fear, the disciples fall to the ground.
A great silence descends.
And then in the silence, Peter feels the mighty power of Jesus’ healing touch.
Peter hears Jesus say,
“Get up and do not be afraid.”
“We’ve been to the mountain top. And now it’s time to go down into the valley, to do God’s work.”
To serve on earth, to proclaim the good news, to love, to be despised, to be crucified with me, and to at last to come into God’s resurrection glory.
The next time Jesus takes Peter and James and John with him, he will be going to another mountain, the Mount of Olives, where Jesus will pray these words,
“I am deeply grieved, even to death. My father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not what I want, but what you want.”
Now what about us?
Like Martin Luther King so many years ago, we also can say that we have been allowed and privileged to go to the mountaintop.
We have had the privilege of seeing God’s glory.
We have had the privilege of hearing God’s voice.
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him!
And we have had the privilege of feeling fear,
And in the silence,
we have had the privilege of feeling the powerful touch of Jesus.
“Get up and do not be afraid.”
It’s time for us to journey down the mountain, and pick up our crosses—
To leave this dwelling place of St Peter’s and enter the world outside our doors—
A valley still full of hunger and discrimination and injustice and turmoil.
God called Martin Luther King, and he calls each one of us today,
Every one of us—out of our comfortable roles, out of the safety of our dwelling places,
To proclaim the gospel ,
To feed the truly hungry in our world, to work to end injustice,
To seek peace and to serve others in His name.
To be used up for his glory.
To be able to say it, and to mean it
Father, I only want to do your will.