Last Sunday after Epiphany- Fr. Chris- February 11, 2018

February 11, 2018

Back when I was in college, I had the great privilege of serving on Camp Allen’s summer camp staff. I spent the entire summer living and working among twenty of my closest friends. For me, living at a summer camp was literally a dream come true. You see I did not grow up going to camp but once I started going to diocesan retreats at Camp Allen when I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be on the summer camp staff. The joys of working for summer camp seemed endless. I got paid to be silly, go to an outrageous dance every week, swim and kayak in the lake everyday, work on a high ropes course, and of course go blobbing. For those who don’t know what blobbing is: It is an outdoor water activity in which a participant sits on one end of a large inflated air bag of sorts and is then launched into the air to fall into the water after another participant jumps onto the blob from a high platform on the opposite side. Yes, it was a 19 year old’s dream come true.

Today is the last Sunday before Lent begins. That’s right Ash Wednesday is only 3 days away. This Season of Epiphany is coming to a close. Epiphany has been marked with gospel lessons that point to the revelation of Christ as God’s son. You might remember the first Sunday we heard God’s voice in a similar fashion as today when Jesus came out of the waters of the Jordan at his baptism. And since then we have been continually reminded of Christ’s identity and nature. Today that all comes to a climax before we actually get to the passion narrative. Yes, today we get the ultimate mountain top experience.

Peter, James, and John go with Jesus to the top of a mountain, where they experience heaven breaking into earth. Jesus becomes transfigured and he begins to shine. Suddenly, two pillars of the Jewish faith, Moses and Elijah, long gone from this earth, appear alongside Jesus and begin to talk with him. Then, Peter offers to build for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah “three dwellings” and we are told that he is terrified. And can you blame him? Both Moses and Elijah, two figures whose passing were mysterious, were believed by many at that time to be God’s precursors of the end times. Because Elijah went bodily into heaven as we heard earlier today and Moses’ grave was never found for Deuteronomy tells us he was buried by God himself. Therefore, these two men of the faith were thought to be available for God to send back. God would send them to inform humankind that God’s reign was at hand. It is no accident that these two appear with Jesus on the mountain. It is clear without a single word spoken that Christ is a superseding figure in this unfolding drama. And then that voice… “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”

Back at camp the best part of each week, in my opinion, was Wednesday nights when all three campsites would gather at the lakeside outdoor chapel. We would come together in the way that Christians have for centuries. We would lift our voices in song, hear stories of our faith, offer up prayers, and then partake in that sacred meal of Holy Communion. It was there, every Wednesday on the shores of Lake Goddard that I truly caught a glimpse of heaven on earth. I imagine that the banquet awaiting us in the life to come will be much the same as those summer evening Eucharists, just hopefully without all of the sweat and mosquitoes. But as for camp, eventually the summer drew to a close and my time working at camp came to an end. Although, spending a summer working at camp was for me a small taste of heaven on earth, the truth is that we could not stay at summer camp indefinitely. There is more to this life than blobbing and ropes courses. There was other work to be done…

On their mountaintop, Peter, James, and John find themselves in an encounter with the living God and the majesty that goes with his presence. They see men who are heroes of the Jewish faith of long ago suddenly alive and standing before them. They see Christ aglow with the light of God’s glory. They see heaven breaking through onto earth. Yes, they are having a foretaste of the future heavenly banquet right then and there. And then after the voice… it was all gone. It was time to go down the mountain back into our broken world. For there was other work to be done…

And it is true; there was still work to be done. Jesus and his disciples go back down the mountain to teach, preach, heal, and travel to Jerusalem. They go back down the mountain and into the “real world” where Jesus will be crucified as a common criminal. Yes there was still work to be done.

You see, the Transfiguration as it is commonly called was not the signal of the end times it turns out, but a powerful signal that points to the continuous in breaking of God’s kingdom through Christ and that light of Christ that continues to shine. In the Gospels, Christ tells us his purpose… to share the good news of God’s love and grace with the world and put those words into action. Through his death and resurrection, Christ brings heaven onto earth in a new and tangible way. Through his saving grace we are invited to share in his inheritance. We are invited to partake in the bread of heaven, taste eternal life, and invite others to do the same. Eventually, all of our earthly mountaintop experiences come to an end. They are merely sightings of heaven, foretastes. And just as Peter, James, and John were led back down the mountain, so too are we. There is still work to be done… There is light, the light of Christ himself, that needs shining into the darkness of this world.

If you have not already, I challenge you to spend the next three days thinking of new and creative ways you can work not only on your spirituality this Lenten season but also ways that you can grow in Christ while working to build up the kingdom of God. During Lent we spend forty days preparing ourselves for the Easter celebration and learning to be in deeper relationship with God. We take on new practices or abstain from current ones in order to draw closer to the living God. These practices are to change us not just for a season but to transform our very being.

Until every person recognizes the glory of Christ… Until every person encounters heaven on earth… Until every person knows they are loved and not alone for Christ is with them… then there is still work for us to do.  And so in the spirit of the Transfiguration, “…let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”[i]

[i] Matthew 5:16

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785
Website:http://www.stpaulskaty.org
Email:info@stpaulskaty.org

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