A week behind in posting...sigh
What's believable? . . . And does it not depend on what you have already experienced?
- Thundersnow - did you see any of the video? Would you believe it if you had never heard thunder during a snow storm, or seen lighting flash in a blizzard?
- Even snow totals that were reported yesterday are hard to beleive without the visual of Al Rocker standing at the edge of 2 feet of snow in downtown Providence.
- We saw devastation after the ‘super storm’ Sandy that was hard to believe, until we SAW pictures, heard 1st-hand reports.
What is believeable often depends on how close it is to what we have already experienced, seen for ourselves, or heard from someone we trust.
- Space ships? Aliens from another planet?
- Ghosts? (Maybe you’ve heard or experienced a ‘ghost story’ that is now quite believeable to you?)
I suspect there are many things that we take for granted that even our parents and certainly our grandparents would find ‘supernatural’. Comparison to historic acceptance and now which would be inconceivsble then.
- My grandmother died in 1983. We got our first microwave oven in 1985. Would she have found it supernatural to have a box on the counter in which you placed food and heated it up to consumable temperatures within seconds?
- My materal grandmother died in the mid-1960’s. Would she have found the power and range of this iPad, supernatural?
ASK: what in your memory has become so amazing it would be supernatural or paranormal to the YOU of back ‘in the day’?
We have been raised in a modern and even post-modern period where critical observation is the way of the world and Supernatural is for Science-fiction. Our tendency is to stick to the natural, unless we are lost in the latest SCI-FI movie.
So what do we do when we encounter a story like Luke, Matthew and Mark give us - with Jesus have a conversation with 2 dead people.
Jesus glows brighter white than ANY modern laundry commerical could show us. Then, He and 3 disciples are overtaken by a mysterious cloud from which the voice of God thunders.
What do we do with it? (Do you want to answer that or have me go on?)
So far Jesus miraculous moments have been more ‘down-to-earth’ events, amazing as they have been, they are events that leave people ‘normal’ healed, put back to regular life. But what’s normal?
Is reality only what we can see, taste, touch, and feel? . . .
In our tendency to be strictly 'Earth Bound', Can we admit that there is more to life than we can see? . . .
Will Willimon says, “Might it be the case that we modern people have not succeeded in explaining away and demystifying that usually unseen realm, but rather we, unlike our spiritual anestors, have simply lost the means to have contact with that realm?”
I can text, I can email around the world, but sitting still in contemplative prayer. . .in contact with the Divine, is harder to master than any technology I have yet encountered.
“Christians believe that we have indeed been contacted by someone from another world, from the realm of the Kingdom of God. We have been contacted by God in Jesus the Christ.”
. . .
Willimon says this is more than having a “kind of primitive, simplistic worldview. Christian could be regarded as having a more subtle, complex, and courageous way of thinking than that which passes for thinking in the modern world.”
It is a different worldview than we might normally have. One worth accepting in order to EXPAND our worldview BEYOND this world to our membership in the realm of God. It offers our world something more than they are used to getting from many Christians.
Jesus didn’t fit into the typical worldview of his day. Just last week we recalled the story of his rejection and his rejecting any worldview that does not include the poor and oppressed.
This week we find Jesus’ revealed as the authenic connection to ‘another world’ and our identity as Christians reveals us to be ‘wonderfully open to what the world calls ‘supernatural’ because we fully expect God to impinge and intrude into our world in all sorts of creative ways.”
And we WANT to be part of the supernatural transFIGURING of this world into a realm of justice and peace, freedom and health, food and water equally for ALL.
When we glimpse this realm, or participate in it, we hear the voice of God reassuring us, even when we can’t see glowing glory, like disciples did.
I supsect you have been to just such a mountaintop in your life. I invite you to share a brief story, a sentence or the name of a place where you heard God’s voice thunder.. in some way. Either reassuring or challenging you?
Hard to answer, be brave and try, no wrong answers.
...ASK: Where have you glimpsed the holy? Workcamps...
When Jesus is revealed to us, it takes us beyond supernatural to see Jesus for who Jesus the Christ really is.
The veil is lifted in those moments when we eliminate the (old elightenment) need to be shown, to prove, examine, & analyze everything.
Perhaps it is inded a gift, a supernatural gift to accept the Spirit's movement ---- to embrace the Holy, right here down on solid ground.
It’s important to be grounded. Even Jesus didn’t stay on the mountain. In spite of Peter's desire to build booths, tents, or dwellings - to preserve their glimpse of transcendence up there on the mtn, God interupts him with the word, LISTEN, “this is my chosen one, listen to him.” (V. 35)
Do you want to know What happens when Jesus comes down from the mtn? . .
"Unimagined possibility at ground level."
Here’s the rest of the story;
Review rest of story or tell it here! V. 37-43a
On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child.
“Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulsees him until he foams at the mouth, it mauls him and will scarcely leave him.
“I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.”
Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”
While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were ASTOUNDED a the GREATNESS of GOD.
We see in this story that the "Transfiguration, the GLORY of GOD -seen in Jesus, was never meant to remain private,
it was a vision to carry us down the mountain” and out into a broken world.
"The glory of God's presence and the pain of a broken world cannot be separated"
When they are united, in mystery and active Christianity---
. . When WE are revealing Jesus's presense, everyone around us will be astounded at the “Greatness of God."
1 W.Willimon Pulpit Resource Vol. 42, No.2, Year C, Jan.Feb.Mar.2013 p.26
3 ibid p.27
4 ibid p.27
5 ibid p.27
6 inspired by Thomas Long in Pulpit Resource p.28
7 Lori B. Hale, Feasting on the Word-theological (Louisville:WJK,2009)456
9 Sharon Ringe Feasting on the Word - exegetical (Lousiville:WJK,2009) 457