Transfiguration Sunday

Today is the last Sunday before Lent begins.
A Sunday that is a culmination of the past several weeks with our readings during church that told of the amazing acts and profound teachings of Jesus.
A Sunday when people around Jesus have their eyes open to see the glory of God surrounding the man born in Bethlehem, raised by a carpenter yet with a much larger purpose.

Mark 8:27-9:8 is our text today.
Jesus is walking with his followers when he turns to ask a question.
The question might sound like a simple one, but in reality this is the question that is the point of what Jesus had been doing, the reason for the rest of the journey to come.

“Who do people say that I am?”

In other words, Jesus is getting feedback. He wants to know if people are really starting to figure out what is going on.
Do they think he’s an upstart? A fraud? Someone who is all flash but no substance? A carpenter who should go back to working with wood and not people?
Is he a prophet? Does he stand in a long line of people called by God to bring a message? Is he one like so many before who comes to bring words of caution to those who strayed from God and words of hope for those who wait in darkness?

Or is he something more?

The followers answer. “Well, some say John the Baptist.”
The voice in the wilderness. The man who called loudly for people to repent and turn back to God. The one who stirred hearts and baptized people, that ritual of cleansing so that people can once again stand before God.

“Or Elijah”
A favorite prophet of God. Powerful, able to perform miracles. Powerful, able to make kings and queens nervous when he shows up. Powerful, defeating another god with a hundred prophets. One who did not die but was taken to heaven in a whirlwind, meaning that he can come back whenever.

“Or another prophet.”
A messenger. One sent to bring the word of the Lord.

Then Jesus asks another question.
“But who do you say that I am?”

Asking those who have been there day after day. Those who have seen many great things. Those who have been taught by Jesus.
This is a test question: did they finally get it all figured out?

And Peter did.
This guy known for putting his foot in his mouth answers.

“You are the Messiah.”

The anointed one. The one person who is to bring hope and prosperity back to the people of God. The one who will be mighty and victorious, much like King David of old who defeated enemies and brought glory to God and God’s people.
Jesus is the one people have been waiting for.

Then Jesus turns and begins to tell the followers what is to come.

And it’s not what is expected or wanted.

Instead of glorious victory in battle, betrayal.
Instead of ruling over a proud nation, rejection.
Instead of a long and prosperous life, death.

And Peter voices the frustration. “But how can this be? That’s not what the Messiah is supposed to do and be?”

And Jesus reminds him that God’s plans seldom follow human expectations.

Six days later, Jesus takes a few disciples with him up to the top of a mountain.
And while Peter, James and John look on, Jesus is tranfigured.
He changes before their eyes, miraculously wearing clothing so white it seems to glow.

And he’s not alone.

There stands Moses and Elijah, two of God’s favorite prophets. The one who brought the people out of slavery and the one who sought to remind people that they were the people of God and should act like it.

Peter, with his ability to say the wrong thing, offers to build dwellings for the three.
But the three are not meant to dwell on the mountain top.
Then Jesus and Moses and Elijah disappear in a cloud.

And a voice cries out: “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”

Then the cloud disperses and Jesus stands there alone.
The Son, the Beloved, the one to whom all should listen.

And so Peter and James and John, after seeing with their own eyes, know that the man before them is beyond their expectations or understanding.
Because God is truly beyond human understanding yet walks alongside the people of God on the road.
And all they can do, all any of us can do, is listen.

So may we listen.

May our eyes be open to see what God shows us. May our ears be open to what God says. May our hearts be open to whatever God teaches us and may we follow where we are led.

How we serve in love

Over the course of three weeks, I (Pastor Kara) ventured into each of the 7 congregations and asked the question: “How do you serve in love?”

I got lots of responses (THANK YOU!!!!!!!) that I then recorded. I typed up each and every answer into an excel document, then I sorted them A-Z. I’m including the massive list of the 153 at the bottom of the page (you’re welcome). But also included is the video that I put together that summarizes what I read and heard about. It was fascinating to read all of the answers provided.

I will start off by embedding a video that some of you saw in church as part of my reflections about stewardship.

And now for the gigantic list:

Act as 4-H leaders
Altar guild
Book keeper, scorers, and timers at school
Booster club
Bring food
Bring food to a family in need
Bring items to the food pantry
Bring meals when a member of the community is ill
Build relationships with youth
By reaching out to anyone in need
By visiting the ill, the lonely, those new to community
Care for my family
Care for my patients in the emergency room
Caring for the daily needs of my family and friends
Coffee fellowship
Committee member
Community café
Confirmation assistant
Cook and clean
Create a welcoming, family-oriented city celebration
Do mission projects in flooded areas
Do volunteer work for the church
Donate food, money, etc to help others
Donate to worthy causes such as food pantry
Drive elderly to doctor appointments
Encourage people to participate
Feed a friend’s pet
Feed animals
Fix and repair neighbors’ equipment
Follow the “golden rule”
Food pantry
Give blood
Give financially
Give monetarily
Give neighbors a ride home when they have flat tires
Give rides to those who can’t drive
Help a neighbor in need
Help at funerals with serving
Help children with homework
Help each other
Help friends and neighbors
Help friends and one another when they are ill and need help
Help in church
Help in the church by serving for funerals, showers and other activities
Help lead worship
Help my mother
Help neighbor with yard work
Help out my brothers and sisters
Help out others when they need it
Help out Sunday School
Help people
Help someone who is sick
Help spouse in time of need
Help take care of the earth
Help with church supper
Help with church yardwork
Help with communion
Help with dishes
Helping and sticking up for a friend in a time when they need it
Helping the elderly
I care for people and people care for me
In my job
Keep a set of clean clothes for family to wear
Lawn care
Lay assistant
Look after children
Look for opportunities to help your neighbor
Love one another
Make church bulletins and inserts
Make meals for new moms, the sick, the grieving
Make quilts to give away
Make wholesome meals for the family
Mow church lawn
Mow park, cemetary and church yard
Not gossip about others
Open a door for someone
Paint a friend’s house
Pay for someone’s meal
Pick up garbage in ditches
Play piano for Sunday School
Pray for each other
Pray for one another
Pray for others
Pray for others
Pray when asked to pray for someone and tell them you are praying for them
Prepare communion
Provide all powerpoints
Provide part of crop for different functions
Rake leaves
Remove snow from neighbors’ yard
School board
Serve as EMTs
Serve at funerals
Serve in leadership roles when needed
Serve on church council
Serve on city council or township boards
Serve on community board for the betterment of our communities
Serve senior citizens
Serving in church and circle offices
Serving on WELCA
Share homemade quilts with those in need
Share the word of God in different ways (Stiches & Scripture)
Share your gravel pit
Sing at weddings and funerals
Study the lessons and better serve others
Sunday School
Sunday School teacher
Take care of children
Take food to families who have had a death in the family
Talking with people
Teach children to make good choices and to make the most of their lives
Teach Sunday School
Time and efforts above and beyond my duties
Try to be compassionate and caring to others
Use my gift for different functions
Visit people in nursing homes
Visit the elderly
Visit the sick and do things for them
Volunteer on ambulance crew
Volunteer to serve on committees
Wave to neighbors
Welcome all
Welcome others
Work with hospice
Work with kids to make better choices
Worship leader