|Twenty Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||November 10, 2013||Proper 27, Year C||Job 19:23-27a, Luke 20:27-38|
|Twenty Second Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||October 20, 2013||Proper 24C||Psalm 121, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, Luke 18:1-8|
|Twenty First Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||October 13, 2013||Proper 23, Year C||2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c, Psalm 111, Luke 17:11-19|
|Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||October 6, 2013||Proper 22, Year C||Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4, Psalm 37:1-10, 2 Timothy 1:1-14, Luke 17:5-10|
|Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 29, 2013||Proper 21, Year C||Luke 16:19-31|
|Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 22, 2013||Proper 20, Year C||Luke 16:1-13|
|Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 15, 2013||Proper 19, Year C||Exodus 32:7-14, Luke 15: 1-10|
|Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 8, 2013||Proper 18, Year C||Luke 14:25-33|
|Fifteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||September 1, 2013||Proper 17, Year C||Sirach 10:12-18, Psalm 112, Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, Luke 14:1, 7-14|
|Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 25, 2013||Proper 16, Year C||Isaiah 58:9b-14;Psalm 103:1-8;Hebrews 12:18-29;Luke 13:10-17|
|Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 18, 2013||Proper 15, Year C||Hebrews 11:29-12:2|
|Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 11, 2013||Proper 14, Year C||Genesis 15:1-6, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16, Luke 12:32-40|
|Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||August 4, 2013||Proper 13, Year C||Colossians 3:1-17|
|Ninth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||July 21, 2013||Proper 11, Year C||Genesis 18:1-10a, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42|
|Tenth Sunday After Pentecost, Year C||July 21, 2013||Proper 12, Year C||Luke 11:1-13|
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Sermon Date:February 10, 2013
Scripture: Luke 9:28-36, II Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Liturgy Calendar: Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C
Last week I talked about a form of prayer known as a collect. This prayer has five parts. God is addressed and described in a particular way, and then we ask for something, name the hoped for result, and last we note that we are praying through Jesus, often with a description attached.
Just for review, take a look at today’s collect—
Description of God—“who before the passion of your only begotten Son revealed his glory on the holy mountain”
What we’re asking for—“Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance”
Hoped for result—“may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory”
Praying through Jesus—“through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Description—“who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”
Today’s collect first appeared in the 1928 BCP. Last week’s collect was written way back in the 6th century by Pope Gregory the Great, also known as St Gregory. Gregory is a Doctor of the Church, and throughout the Middle Ages, he was known as the “Father of Christian Worship.”
Pope Gregory must have been a rather orderly, straight laced sort of guy. No wonder then, that he used this prayer form that we know as a collect, and that he wrote collects.
But this particular form of prayer, of course, is obviously not the only way to put prayers together.
Enter the writer Anne Lamott. Maybe some of you have heard of her. She’s my age. She writes about what she knows best, her own life. And she’s suffered with depression, raised her son as a single mother, and she’s an alcoholic in recovery. Her writing is breezy and often irreverent, anything but academic. The proper Episcopalian priest in me often finds her writing downright shocking.
And she’s just written a book on prayer. Now Anne’s way of praying is not the careful form of a collect. Instead, she says that the three essential prayers are Help! Thanks! And Wow! — followed by an Amen.
Now I think that if Anne Lamott had been with Peter, James, John and Jesus on the mountain and had experienced the transfiguration with them, her prayer would have been one word—Wow!
Because Lamott says that wow is about having “our minds blown by the mesmerizing or the miraculous” –the prayer that “is often offered with a gasp, a sharp intake of breath…wow means that we are not dulled to wonder.”
I think that if Anne had been given the assignment of opening our service with prayer this morning, she’d toss the collect and just shout out “WOW!”
Because the disciples on top of the mountain with Jesus experienced what we call a theophany, an appearance of God, complete with light, sound, and the cloud that led the Israelites through the wilderness actually enveloping the disciples. No wonder they were terrified. At this point, Anne, if she’d been there, would have been praying under her breath, “wowowowowowowowow.”
On the first Sunday after the Epiphany, we saw the heavens split open and a dove descending and God’s voice affirming that Jesus is his son—a showing of who Jesus is, an Epiphany.
And now the season of Epiphany closes with yet another Epiphany, a recap of the baptism—Jesus transfigured in brilliant light, and God’s voice once more proclaiming, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him!” We get to see all over again who Jesus is.
When you get right down to it, the only prayer we can pray about this story is Wow!
OK, a great story of God showing the disciples who Jesus is—beyond the fact that this is a Wow prayer, what difference does this story make to us and to the way that we are trying to live our lives as Christians in this world?
This story helps me to know that my life is a journey of transformation.
In today’s reading from Second Corinthians, Paul says that “all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”
When we look into Paul’s metaphorical mirror, we can see, over time, our lives reflecting more and more the glory of God if we are on this journey of transformation.
So how do we begin this journey of transformation, of moving from one degree of glory to another?
Right before today’s gospel reading, Jesus has said to the disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.”
And then on the mountain, as we have heard today, Jesus discusses his impending death with Moses and Elijah.
If we decide to go on this journey of transformation, then Jesus is pretty clear that the journey is not going to be just a pleasant walk in the country, but will also involve some work and sacrifice, some cross carrying on his behalf.
And we find that sometimes we even want to pick up those crosses, not only because this is what Jesus tells us to do as his disciples, but also because we’re full of gratitude for what God has done for us, all day, every day.
Lamott says that “Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides….when you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back. “
And when we gratefully pick up the crosses that God has in mind for us, then God’s glory gets released into the world through us as we get transformed into people who reflect God’s glory.
How we pick up our crosses and show our gratitude to God in all sorts of ways in our daily lives with one another, and what we do and how we do it will vary for each one of us—but the point, as I mentioned last Sunday, is that God’s agenda determines our own agendas, and God’s agenda is so simple and so hard to do—to love one another and to work for the common good.
We have opportunities through this church to help people all over the world by using our money to help those without resources, to work for the common good of humanity.
Today is World Mission Sunday, and the point of having a Sunday dedicated to world missions is a reminder to us that we are the people who reflect God’s light into the world through the ways in which we serve our brothers and sisters, not just here at home, but also far away.
Now you’ve already heard about Tools for the Sudan, and today you’ll hear a little more about that. At the Region I meeting on Wednesday night, we heard about how several Episcopal Churches in Region I have come together to help the Notre Dame Episcopal Church and school in Port au Prince in Haiti. Right now this school has only one horridly inadequate bathroom for the three hundred students and teachers who are there every day. And so the plan is to try to build new bathrooms for the school, at a cost of $32,000. If every church in the region raises just $1684 for this project, the new bathroom can be built.
Imagine the looks on the faces of the children and the teachers at this school in Haiti the day that they arrive and find a new bathroom—that even includes sinks so that they can wash their hands. Imagine the refugee in Sudan who has stayed awake at night worrying about how on earth he is going to be able to feed his family, and then the church gives him the tools he needs to learn the art of farming.
My guess is that these people will be full of wonder!
–that the glory of God will appear in something as simple as a hoe, or a toilet, or any unexpected loving action, and that light will fill the faces of the people who receive these gifts, and their first prayer will be one word.
“Wow!” or maybe even wowowowwoowow!
The glory of the Lord as reflected in a mirror, God’s glory lighting up the world through us!
Wow! And Amen!
Resources: Interpretation: Luke, by Fred B. Craddock, WJK, Louisville, KY, 2009.
Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott, Riverhead Books, NY 2012