Sermons 2003-2004

"Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

Getting from Uh-oh to Aha

Epiphany Last C 2004 Exodus 34:29-35; Luke 9:28-36

(NOTE: The web program does not support some punctuation marks and they have been removed automatically by the program.)

Robert Fulghum is a fellow I have found very interesting over the years. Whenever someone asks him, What do you do? he usually answers that he is a philosopher. He explains that what he likes to do is think a lot about ordinary things and then express it in writing or painting or speaking. At various times in his life he has been a working and singing -- cowboy, a folksinger, an IBM salesman, a parish minister, a bartender, an art teacher -- drawing and painting and father. He and his wife have also lived on a houseboat in Seattle, Washington. He still lives in that city and has four children and seven grandchildren.

Sixteen million copies of his seven books are in print. We may remember his first two, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten: Uncommon Thoughts on Common Things and It was on Fire When I Lay Down on It. Kindergarten had has a lot to do with how young children learn to love their neighbors. I am attracted to Fulghums writing because he has a way of standing at an angle to the world and making observations about what he sees in a different sort of way.

This week as I was in the Lancaster Community Library, I checked out his third book: Uh-Oh: Some Observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the Transfiguration, but hang on.

Fulghum has this to say about that oh so ordinary and common term, uh-oh: "Uh-oh is not in any dictionary or thesaurus, and is seldom seen in written form. Yet Most of us utter that sound every day. And have used it all our lives. Uh-oh, or something like it, has been used as long as people have existed. And it may be the first thing Adam said to Eve after he bit into the apple. She knew exactly what he meant, too....
"Across the history of the human family, millions and millions of distinct sounds have come and gone as we continually reach for ways to communicate with one another. Often the most expressive words we use are not words at all, just those shorthand sounds that represent complex thoughts grunts and moans and snorts and clicks and whistles compounded by facial expressions and physical gestures: OK...yo...ah...hah...humpf and an almost endless number of others whose meaning and spelling cannot be conveyed with letters on paper.
"Uh-oh is way up near the top of the list of small syllables with large meanings....
"Uh-oh is more than a momentary reaction to small problems. "Uh-oh is an attitude a perspective on the universe. It is part of an equation that summarizesthe conditions of existence:

"uh-oh + uh-huh + oh-wow + oh, God = Ah-hah!" (1)

Ah-hah! Aha! The Aha moment we hear so much about when we are transformed in ways large or small, when we reach a new height of understanding or realization.

The Aha moment is intensely emotional at least it can be, particularly when it is an Aha moment of the mountain top variety. But we cant stay on the mountaintop forever. Always we return to the valley below where we live out our lives minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, year by year.

Transformation is an interesting phenomenon. Particularly in this crazy season around the Oscars, the Grammies (Robert Fulghum, interestingly enough, has a Grammie), the Golden Globes. On MSN there was a quiz about John Wayne : What was his real name before he was transformed into John Wayne? Answer to follow later!

Bishop Johnson of North Carolina observed that the Church calls the mountain top event of our Gospel lesson for today the Transfiguration of Christ "because Jesus was
"transfigured": the figure, the image, the look that he had, the face that he showed to others was changed over. The appearance of his face changed. Jesus had a different look.

Bishop Johnson went on to say that "Transfigurations are big business today. I don't know anybody who doesn't
want one, including me. And many of us work hard and spend a lot of money to get one -- a new face, a new look, a changed appearance.
"Transfigurations are big business because we are very aware of the face we present to the world. And we will alter our face to our advantage if we can. Sometimes the change is not just in looks but also in our whole image -- including our name.
"arushka Shikne did not like the image he thought his name projected, so he changed his name to Laurence Harvey. Issur Danielovitch Densky did the same thing and became Kirk Douglas.
"In the same way, Frances Gum transfigured herself and her image into Judy Garland. Archibald Leach became Cary Grant. Aaron Schwalt became Red Buttons.
"And would you have paid money to see Marion Morrison in the movies? Maybe, but Marion didn't take that chance -- he became John Wayne." (2)

This is not just a Hollywood showbiz phenomenon. In the Bible God gave people new names to go with transformed lives, to complete their transfiguration, as it were, into a new image to present to the world. Abram became Abraham. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel. Saul became Paul. Simon became Peter.

When the Clericus on Tuesday was discussing the lessons for today we asked what we could say about The Transfiguration that would be different and new and interesting from what had been said every year before. Only our newest priest, six months out of Seminary seemed shocked by this question. The rest of us sat quietly for a moment thinking it over. Then one of us who had done this for over three decades said, Well, I have a baptism on Transfiguration Sunday and Im going to weave transfiguration images from both the Old Testament and Gospel readings into my sermon.

And all of a sudden we well, I at least went from Uh-oh through Oh, wow to Aha!

Of course, Moses with the shining face when he came down from the mountain top to bring the stone tablets to the ancient Israelites, the stone tablets written in fire by God himself as Moses stood on the holy ground by the burning bush in the presence of the Holy and Almighty One.

And the shining face of our Lord Jesus Christ himself on the mountain top with Moses and Elijah as Peter, James, and John watched probably saying Uh-oh to themselves as they watched with fear and trembling this powerful manifestation of the divinity of Jesus.

Think about when we baptize babies: Usually there is a change right before the parents come into the church with their infant. I leave the details to your imagination and experience.

And the baby is scrubbed to a fresh brightness and put into shining white clothes. And is brought shining to the baptismal fount.

We can see it shining in the faces of the parents and godparents as they face the congregation and make such serious and binding vows in this holy and most basic sacrament of baptism. It is their child who in some marvelous and mysterious way is being transformed by water and the power of the Holy Spirit, a transformation so mysterious that it can hardly be understood but only accepted in faith.

And the grandparents the congregation cant see their glowing and shining faces but I can from down front here. I can see the bond between grandchild and grandparents growing even as I watch in the moment. All grandparents know what I mean.

And I myself have been especially privileged to baptize two of my own grandchildren and I still feel the special bond that formed between me and each one of them as I held them after I baptized them.

Every Baptism is a mountaintop experience and an Aha moment for us all. The next time we baptize a child, look for the light of God shining in all of our faces. And Aha!


1. Robert Fulghum, Uh-Oh: Some Observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door (New York: Villard Books, 1991), pp, 3-4, 6. Equation order modified. Biographical data from book jacket and

2. The Rt Rev Robert Johnson, Episcopal speaker, The Protestant Hour, 14 Feb 1999

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