Sermons 2009
Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9

Home | Proper 17B, 30 August 2009, Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | Proper 16B, 23 August 2009, John 6:56-69 | Pentecost 10 (Proper 14B) 9 August 2009, John 6:35, 41-51 | Pentecost 8B (Proper 12B), John 6:1-21, 26 July 2009 | Pentecost 7B (Proper 11B), 19 July 2009, Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 | Pentecost 6B (Proper 10B), 12 July 2009, Mark 6:14-29 | Pentecost 5B (Proper 9B) 5 July 2009, Mark 6:1-13 | Pentecost 4B (Proper 8B), 28 June 2009 | Pentecost 3B (Proper 7B), 21 June 2009 | Pentecost 2B (Proper 6B), 14 June 2009 | About Pentecost, Pentecost B, 31 May 2009, | On the Trinity, Trinity B, 7 June 2009 | Jesus and Prayer, Easter 7B, 24 May 2009, John 17:6-19 | How can we love? Easter 6B, 17May 2009, John 15:9-17 | 2 Sermons: Vineyard and a Baptism, Easter 5B, 10 May 2009, John 15:1-8 | Who's in? Who's out? Easter 4B, 3 May 2009, John 10:11-18 | Sacramental Meals, Easter 3B, 16 April 2009, Luke 24:36b-48 | Resurrection, continued, Doubts, and a Baptism, Easter 2 B, 19 April 2009, John 20:19-31 | He is not here, Easter B, 12 April 2009, Mark 16:1-8 | The Seven Sayings from the Cross, Palm Sunday B 2009 | We wish to see Jesus, Lent 5B, 29 March 1009, John 12:22-33 | For God so loved the world, Lent 4B, 22 March 2009, John 3:14-21 | Out with the money changers! Lent 3B, 15 March 2009, John 2: 13-22 | On taking up the Cross, Lent 2B, 8 March 2009, Mark 8:31-38 | News or the real Good News?, Lent 1B, 1 March 2008, Mark 1: 9-15 | Listen to Him! Epiphany Last B Transfiguration, 22 February 2009, Mark 9:2-9 | What do you mean, demons? Epiphany 4B, 1 February 2009, Mark 1:21-28 | Immediately and discipleship, Epiphany 3B 2009, 25 January 2009, Mark 1:14-20 | Right in front of your eyes, Epiphany 2B, 18 January 2009, John 1:43-51 | In the beginning, water and the Spirit, Epiphany 1B, 11 January 2009, Genesis 1:1-5; Mark 1:4-11 | In God we trust, Christmas 2B, 4 January 2009, Jeremiah 31:7-14; Matthew 2:1-12

Epiphany Last B 2009                                              Mark 9:2-9


“Listen to him!”


As most of you know I have just returned from a road trip through the Deep Southeast, primarily South Carolina and Georgia with one lunch stop in North Carolina.  For many years I had wanted to make this trip a sort of pilgrimage really, to reconnect with brother, cousins, nephews and nieces, their spouses and children, and old friends.  That the turnaround point of the journey was with grandchildren and their parents in Atlanta was a special bonus.


Given my increasing and an increasing tendency to grow sleepy in the afternoon, I took Belle, my black English Labrador with me.  Belle is a wonderful traveling companion.  She has no comment to make on my driving skills, and generally only makes a sound when she sees another dog along the wayside.  She does snore loudly, though.  But such conversation as there might be was always pretty much one sided.


Most of you know that I am not a particularly interesting or good conversationalist, so as I made my various stops on this road trip I mostly listened to what everyone else had to say.  It was fascinating to listen to their stories, from these good people, some of whom I had seen only rarely for fifty or sixty years.  Some of them had spent most of their lives within a few miles of their childhood home, with a few trips beyond.  Others had traveled to visit or been stationed in Europe and Asia.  All of their lives had been rich and fulfilling.


But something struck me as I listened.  All of them were very comfortable talking about their faith in, and their love of, God.  The Lord was a constant immanent and transcendent presence in their lives.  The Lord was beside them in their sleeping and in their waking.   I wondered if that might be mostly because I was there.  But I think not; it was too natural, too habitual, a part of their conversation. 


Indeed it seemed as though, knowing the sweet Lord was with them every day of their lives, that they engaged him consciously and subconsciously in lifelong constant daily conversation.  This group of relatives and friends were Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, evangelicals, and Episcopalians.  Most of them spoke in the language whose undercurrent and foundations was the Lord being a constant presence in their lives, the Lord to whom they spoke and to whom they listened every day of their lives.


In a real sense I had the feeling, no, not just a feeling, I knew that these friends and relatives lived out daily the admonition given from above at the end of the Transfiguration:  “This is my Son, the Beloved; Listen to him.”


Listen to Him! 


            Wouldn’t we rather do something, or perhaps do anything but listen?  When someone we love is sick or grieving, one of the first questions we ask is "what can I do?"  When national and even local tragedies occur, people have taken to creating spontaneous memorials of flowers and balloons and graffiti walls and plastic wreathes and crosses along the roadside  perhaps so that they can feel like there’s something they can do.

            Listening is much harder than doing.  Our lives are filled with noise - the noise of advertising, the roar of politics, the mindless babble of program TV , the noise of ringing phones and humming dishwashers and buzzing clothes dryers.   What does that tell us about to whom or to what we choose to listen?  

Even on that mountain top Peter wants to build his own memorial of the Transfiguration.  But God spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” I f we can find the strength to change our channels and to listen to God’s beloved Son, we won’t believe the change in our lives.

Both our Old Testament story and the Transfiguration tell us this:   Come away from the divine intervention, come to listen and go back to the world and practice what you hear. (1)

            We are not destined for the mountain tops.  We are destined for the valleys, for the ordinary trials and joys of life.  For us, the really vivid visions of God’s glory and love in Christ happen as we listen to the still small voice of the Lord, as we see God daily at work in our lives and the lives of others in both ordinary and extraordinary miracles, as we share the sufferings and joy with others who dwell with us each day in the valley below.


            Ash Wednesday is in three days.  And Lent begins.  Between the Transfiguration mountain top experience and that of the glorious fulfilled promise of Easter and the Resurrection lies a Lent over which lies the shadow of the Cross and the Crucifixion.  It is not just about our times of ashes and tears in the shadowed valley.  It is about the God who loved us enough to die for us.  It is about the Lord who begs us to listen to him. And that’s the greatest mountain top experience of all.





1.                     Adapted from The Rev. Dr. Sallie Watson, “Transfiguring Scripture - Mark 9:2-9”, for Pentecost Last B 2009