Hi friends! I am a little bit behind in posting (what else is new) but we have had a tough couple of weeks at the church and spend a lot of time just loving my people and walking through that with them.
Here is my sermon from March 3rd – Transfiguration Sunday! It was Mardi Gras Sunday at RCC and we had a blast! I just got the photos back so I’ll post more about it later.
Rehoboth Congregational Church
March 3, 2019
It Is Good For Us To Be Here
Friends, it has not been an easy week.
On Wednesday morning, Mark “Zippy” Johnson – son of Bob, brother of Rob – passed away after a six-month battle with cancer. This has been a very difficult year for the Johnson family; this loss comes six months after the loss of their mom, Phyllis, who passed away in August.
And on Wednesday evening, Lou Peranzi – husband of Kim, father of Nick, Catie and John – passed away after valiantly fighting cancer for two years. Lou was a devoted member of the Rehoboth Congregational Church. He donated his time, both to the church and also to the mission work that happened outside of our doors. He was the fearless leader of Lou’s Crew, the kitchen crew that, year after year, joyfully cooked and served the Turkey Supper at our annual bazaar. Marj Morrell messaged me from Florida on Friday morning and said, “To know Lou was to love him; he had a way of making every contact he made feel special and cared for. He was a gift to all of us.”
It did not feel right to stand up here and preach this morning, business as usual; because it is not business as usual. Right now, in this moment, our church – our village – is feeling the pain of these losses. We are feeling the true depths of our brokenness as human beings.
And yet, it is because of our brokenness that we need to gather in the first place.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday, which is the Sunday before Lent begins, which is the 40-day season before Easter. It is on this Sunday that we tell the story of Jesus’ transfiguration; where he brings Peter, James and John up on a high mountain and transforms before their very eyes. Scripture tells us in this story that Jesus’ clothes become a dazzling white and the prophets Elijah and Moses appear next to Jesus, talking to him. Then a cloud moves over them and from that cloud a voice says, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”
It is in this transfiguration story that we see not only who Jesus is, but also who Jesus has the capacity to be.
This year, I have been struck by Peter’s words after Elijah and Moses appear with Jesus.
Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
I think these words are especially poignant for us, today, as we gather for worship – as we gather as the village, as the Church, as the Body of Christ. It is good for us to be here.
I was trying to figure out why Peter says this and the best I can come up is that is was customary, in adherence with Greek traditions, to build a shrine on the site of the epiphany of a deity. So when Peter says, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,” he means that it is good that they are there so they can build shrines for all three of them.
But, of course, it is not about building shrines; it is about listening to Jesus, it is about learning from Jesus and it is about living out Jesus’ Gospel so that his message of redemption might be passed on from generation to generation.
It was good for Peter, James and John to be on that mountain; to bear witness to the power of Jesus’ transformation in the world. And it is good for us today to be here today; to bear witness to the power Jesus’ transformation in our world, in our lives, in our community.
It is good for us to be here today. It is good for us to be here so that we can share in one another’s grief; so that we can weep with one another, carry one another’s sorrow and know that we are not alone. It is good for us to be here so that we can hug one another and look one another in the eyes and see just how real love is.
It is good for us to be here so that we can gather around a table – a communion table and a potluck Mardi Gras table – and break bread together. It is good for us to be here so that we can sing songs that will fill this sanctuary with joy and praise, even in the midst of heartache. It is good for us to be here so that we can pray boldly and know that God hears those prayers.
It is good for us to be so that we can be the church that we are and also dream about the church that we have the capacity to be. It is good for us to be here so that we can proclaim a message of love and inclusivity, so that we can create a church that is meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. It is good for us to be here so that we can proclaim a Gospel of healing to a world that is very much broken. It is good for us to be here so that we can do church together.
It is good for us to be here so that we, too, can bear witness to the ways not only that Christ can be transformed, but that we can be transformed in Christ.
Today is Mardi Gras Sunday. Mardi Gras is actually on Tuesday; Lent begins on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. And I would encourage you this Lenten season to, like Peter, James and John, “be here”. To bear witness to the presence of Christ in every part of your life. To show up so that you can ask questions and deepen your faith. To see the presence of Christ in others and make sure that others can see the presence of Christ in you. To help others in their times of need. To help heal our broken world. To know that we are not alone on this journey.
It is good for us to be here.
Blessings on your Lenten season.
Thanks be to God!