Verse 34 in our reading today intrigues me. V34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. They were terrified as they entered the cloud. Interesting.
The cloud that overshadowed them was something unexpected and unknown. It sounded like a very good thing in many respects based on what Peter, John and James had seen and experienced with Jesus over the previous few years but likewise there was also this sense of the unknown.
Kind of like sailors of old with the sea maps that ocean going navigators used. The world was flat in those days, or so it was believed, and the sea simply dropped off at the edge of the actual world, kind of like an infinity pool that just disappeared in the distance. The edge of the world was kind of an unknown, amorphous thing that defied description, much less definition and not only that, in between the actual known world and the unknown edge of the sea was the place were dragons could be found. As you sailed farther and farther from the known toward the unknown the more scary and dangerous it became. Most everyone started out somewhat afraid to enter the wide open ocean. What was lurking around out there? There might be scary things lurking around every corner that might jump out at us and eat us all up.
Many sailors did get to the point where they would sail out around the ocean, connecting new lands far and wide. How did they get comfortable with all the risks, with all the dragons, out there?
Kind of like of modern day cloud computing. Our information, our data, is stored in computers that we can’t see or locate and all these computers are connected so that we can get to our data. Cloud computing is kind of an unknown, amorphous thing that for the most part defies description, much less definition. The computing cloud isn’t something you can get your hands on but it most assuredly exists and we’re all connected there whether we realize it or not. And more to the point, most everyone started out somewhat afraid to enter the cloud. What was lurking back in there? There might be scary things lurking around every corner that might jump out at us and eat us all up.
Many of us did get to the point where we depend on the computing cloud for much of what we do. How did we get comfortable doing that with all the risks, with all the dragons, out there?
Our transformation through and by Christ is kind of an unknown, amorphous kind of thing that defies description, much less definition. Our transformation isn’t something you can get your hands on but it most assuredly exists and we’re all connected there whether we realize it or not. Most everyone starts out somewhat afraid to have our lives transformed by Christ. If I allow myself to be transformed what is lurking back in there? There might be scary things lurking around every corner that might jump out at us and…
One thing I’ve learned is the transfiguration defies logic and so does transformation. The work of God in the Holy Spirit is not something one can compute. It doesn’t work like that much as we wish it did.
I think transfigured is something for Jesus and transformed is something for us. Jesus is the one who is about to accomplish something in Jerusalem and we are the ones transformed by what he does. Jesus will go to the cross and assure us of forgiveness and Jesus will rise from the grave and give us the promise of eternal life. When Jesus meets Moses and Elijah and is transfigured into the one who goes to the cross and rises from the grave, so begins our transformation.
It would be easier to stay in the safety on the shore. It would be simpler to keep all our information on our own local computer. It would be less confusing to avoid our transformation in Christ. Peter kind of wants to do exactly that. Well sort of. He seems to be fine with transformation in Christ but wants to build a small shed for them all to have a place to hang out in with relative safety and total anonymity.
I think I just described far too many churches in USAmerica today.
Which is understandable that as a church we look for safety and anonymity, if not a very good idea. Common sense would seem to suggest that you should at all times and in all places seek safety and comfort. The unknown or anything slightly dangerous should be avoided at all costs. There might be scary things lurking around every corner that might jump out at us and eat us all up.
That may be understandable as a church that wants to exist as place of relative safety and total anonymity. But since Christ is transfigured into the one who will go to the cross and die there and we are transformed by Christ’s death on the cross, we exist not as an anonymous safety seeking entity but as a living and breathing community of faith. A community of faith that seeks to follow Christ, not just talk about him and all the cool things he did and said.
If we never change a thing in our lives we never grow into the person God created us to be. We all know change can be scary but if you have the right gear to protect you, venturing into the unknown can actually be quite exhilarating. As a former volunteer firefighter I have been on the nozzle 4 times, meaning that I was the first one to take a firehose into a burning building. Geared up and with a crew in support I carried the hose nozzle into the burning structure and started fighting the fire. I did this with full protective gear and while not completely safe, no one ever is completely safe in a burning building, I did it with full confidence in my crew, my gear and my training. You can pretty well bet I would not have entered a burning structure all alone, wearing just T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops!
So it is with our transformation in Christ. We are not transformed by our work, it is the work of the Holy Spirit but we can also work to create the environment where the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus can take over our lives. Sounds kind if scary but like anyone entering a potentially dangerous situation, we can also prepare ourselves for transformation.
Many of want get to the point where we look forward to the transforming power of Jesus in our life. How do we get comfortable doing that with all the risks, with all the dragons, out there?
A good place to start is our baptismal promises. Check out the Evangelical Lutheran Worship on page 236, the red books under the seats. Let’s read the promise that is made on our behalf in baptism and we affirm later on in our lives. Let’s start with the indented part as we read together “…to live among God’s faithful people; hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s Supper; to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed; to serve all people following the example of Jesus; and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.”
Do these kinds of things and maybe, just maybe, that transforming cloud isn’t quite so terrifying. In baptism we are transformed as followers of Christ and transformed people change the world.