Sunday, March 3 of the Why Jesus? Project is Because Jesus is love. The story is Matthew 16:24-17:8. In it, Jesus gives a difficult assignment, take up your cross, lose your life. Who wants to be a loser? Then, Jesus gives these disciples a glimpse of glory and a change of heart. On the mountain, they hear an echo of God claiming Jesus as the beloved son. Can you be both a loser and a beloved child of God? I think so.
In my former congregation, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, MN I told the transfiguration story through 3D glasses. Jesus in all his glory sparkles bright light that makes his face shine like the sun. He is transfigured. But I can’t help to think about Peter, James, and John, and how they had to be changed by this experience? Right?
That’s how it works with Jesus. By knowing, believing, experiencing, loving – whatever gerund is used about Jesus, he changes who we are are from loser to beloved child. He helps us to see life through a new lens or in this case, 3D glasses! Whatever it is exactly that Jesus does in us, he transforms us to be what the message says below. With my storytelling, people then put on their 3D glasses to read the message:
I have seen this kind of transfiguration of when someone meets Jesus through a gerund. It was at my ordination 6 months ago. Right before the ordaining part, the Bishop said three things: She informed the congregation about their role; she spoke about the laying on of hands, and then she said something really churchy. The Bishop told the congregation to expect the Holy Spirit to show up! She promised that even on a random Tuesday night in South Minneapolis, the Holy Spirit would be there to stir the people, and if the people had questions they should talk to one of the 20 pastors present.
Now I say “churchy” because I had several really good friends in the crowd who were not church-goers. In fact, one couple was at best agnostic. They were there out of their love for me. After the ordination part, the service moved into Holy Communion. Upon finishing the Words of Institution, I said this: “If you are wondering if you should come forward the answer is ‘Yes!’ this is God’s invitation for all people who seek to be in the presence of Jesus.”
Now here is where the gerund comes into play with this story. A couple of days later after the ordination, I visited with the wife of my agnostic friends. She told me that the whole ordination experience was life- changing! From listening to sermon to the laying on of hands, the Spirit was changing her. But it was the words of invitation to God’s table where she got choked up. In tears, she told me how she and her husband were arguing about whether they should come forward or not. As a young children, Holy Communion was uninviting and unwelcoming. The words “…this is God’s invitation for all people…” were transfiguring. After receiving the bread and the wine, the body and the blood, she told me she felt different. I told her that she was experiencing, feeling, needing God’s love in a new way.
My Bishop was right that random Tuesday night. The Holy Spirit showed up in remarkable ways. But that’s what we get when we let Jesus do the transfiguring in our lives. He (without the aid of 3D glasses!) helps us to see in a new way that allows us to be a gerund – loving and losing.
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