2 Kings 2:1-12
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
The Word of the Lord.
The mighty one, God the Lord, has spoken;
calling the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty,
God shines forth in glory.
Our God will come and will not keep silence;
with a consuming flame before, and round about a raging storm.
God calls the heavens and the earth from above
to witness the judgment of the people.
“Gather before me my loyal followers,
those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice.”
The heavens declare the rightness of God’s cause,
for it is God who is judge. Amen.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The Word of the Lord.
The Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark 9:2-8
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Sometimes life is just plain surprising. Sometimes life actually takes your breath away. Sometimes life dazzles you and leaves you feeling blessed and thankful.
This very thing happened to Jack and me just last Sunday afternoon. As we were getting out of the car in our driveway we noticed a flock of starlings. I know – starlings are everywhere in Kentucky. But what caught our eye was the fact that these particular starlings didn’t fly away when we got out of the car. Starlings always startle so easily. In fact – Will loves startling starlings. Clapping at a flock of starlings and watching them all take flight simultaneously delights Will. So Jack and I were puzzled by the starlings that didn’t startle. We even talked about the unstartled starlings as we unloaded the car.
But then – as we walked toward the house there was a sudden WHOOSH as 100’s of starlings took flight and flew right over our heads. The sky turned dark as we stood frozen in our tracks under a cloud of starlings.
And then Jack exclaimed – “Mom – look!”
And soaring above our heads was a gorgeous hawk with its wings spread wide in the afternoon sun!
Jack and I just stood there – in awe – with our eyes transfixed by the hawk soaring through the perfectly blue afternoon the sky. Our hearts were filled with wonder. We were dazzled and amazed!
We both exclaimed aloud at the awesomeness of what we had seen. But it took us just a moment to process what an incredible blessing it was that we had received. It took a moment for us to process just how close we had stood to that soaring hawk. We could see the individual feathers fluttering in the wind as it soared by us (and I wear tri-focals)! Wow – just wow! Talk about a God sighting!!!
Now try to imagine what Peter, James, and John were feeling after their God sighting in our Gospel reading for this week!?!
It all started out normally enough. Jesus invites Peter, James, and John to join him for a hike. It probably sounded like a wonderful break from the stress and busyness of healing the sick and teaching and casting out demons and feeding the hungry and sharing the Good News of God’s grace, love, and mercy.
But after climbing a mountain – quite suddenly – amazing things happen.
The Gospel of Mark tells us Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” And just as suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus. Then, God declares – “This is my Son – the Beloved – listen to him!”
Moses and Elijah – were two of the greatest prophets in the whole history of Israel – but – both of them had been dead for 100’s of years. And now – they stop by for a visit and a chat?
And God speaks to Peter – James and John from heaven – directly!?!
Is it really any wonder that Peter – James – and John – are shocked and terrified? Who wouldn’t be?
Peter – James – and John are simply overcome. It is a bit too much for them to take in and process all at once. They are frozen with shock and awe by all they have seen and experienced. Peter does suggest they stay put right there on the mountain.
As tempting as it probably was to stay in that amazing place – Jesus knows they cannot stay there. Jesus knows God wants them to return to the world – because they have work to do. They have a very important mission.
So Jesus gets them moving again. He helps them process what they are experiencing. And then Jesus leads the disciples back down the mountain and they return to their ministry of healing, preaching, and teaching.
Just as God revealed Jesus’ true identity on that mountaintop – Jesus reveals our true identity and mission in this world when he returns to his earthly ministry.
I know these are strange times. And you are probably saying to yourselves and to me – but Pastor Kerri – Covid-19 has us all locked up at home. We can’t go anywhere. You and the church council won’t even let us have in-person worship! But staying safe at home and social distancing don’t mean you can’t do God’s work in this world or that you can’t serve God and God’s people.
We all just need to be more creative than we have been in the past!
Go for a walk – wear some disposable gloves and pick up litter.
Call someone. And just check-in and chat. Most folks are longing to hear from someone different.
Call someone little and offer to read them a favorite picture book. Or just tell them a story. Zoom is free for the first 45 minutes. But you don’t need Zoom. When Jack was little I would read his favorite stories to him over the telephone all of the time. This was long before Zoom. He needed to hear the sound of my voice and I love to read – it was perfect. And it made us feel closer when we were apart.
Write a letter or a note to someone. Reach out. Tell someone you miss them and are thinking of them. We all need a reminder that we are not alone right now.
Send a note of appreciation to someone like your child’s teacher or principal. If your children’s teachers are anything like Will’s 2nd grade teacher – then they are working very hard these days and I would guess when they hear from most parents it is because parents are angry or annoyed. Send a note of appreciation and spread love and kindness.
Make a donation to the Fern Creek-Highview United Ministries. They always need our donations – but they especially need them now.
If your family can afford it – sponsor one of the monthly meals at the Ronald McDonald House. For $100 you can sponsor the monthly meal.
Pray for your sisters and brothers in Christ.
Use your imaginations. Listen for God’s call. Be open and willing to serve. We can all serve God and God’s people in our daily lives. We can all make this world a more loving – more gracious place. There is work to be done and we are the folks God has called to do it! Truly this is God’s News for us. AMEN.