Transfiguring Glory: A sermon

On the last Sunday of Epiphany I preached the following sermon, on Transfiguring Glory. Given the Presiding Bishop's sermon today (March 4,2007) I thought it might be interesting to post this. It is in no way as fine a sermon as hers, but it echoes some of the same issues.


On April 3rd, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, gave a speech in Memphis, Tennessee, in support of the garbage workers who were on strike. It ended with this poignant last paragraph:

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."

He was assassinated the next day

Today I want to preach on Glory! Glory! Glory!

Whatever is coming down from the Mountain,

When it is ON the Mountain, it is Glory!

You go up to talk to God, like Moses and Jesus did, and some people call it prayer, and it is.. but it's more, its Glory!

Glory in just being there, in the presence of the light.

Glory in being filled with the light. The face of Moses shown… the whole body of Jesus shown. This kind of Glory only comes from prayer, from talking with God face to face.

Even Paul gets it right this time: we see the glory of the Lord, as though reflected in a mirror. Oh we may not be able to pray that hard… like Moses or Jesus, but we can pray hard enough, and see maybe not God, but God's reflection in a mirror.

A mirror that shows someone's image, filled with light. Whose image?…maybe your own, maybe in the face of friend or foe, maybe in the stranger…Glory! Glory in the face of someone we never thought would shine with the light of God's presence, but does. Glory!

God is not waiting to ask our permission to appear in Glory. The light shines where it wills, the wind blows where it will, and the Spirit sure transforms whoever and whatever it wants from one degree of glory to another.


What's this Glory good for? Well…

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!" We tell the truth as the light within dictates, we tell it freely, it frees, it is the Glory of the Lord. "By the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of the Lord." That's what Paul says, and Paul is right on the money.

You remember Dr. King's final statement? He quotes from the Battle Hymn of the Republic… "Mine eyes have seen the Glory!" Glory!

Well listen to the words again:

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;

His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on."

The Glory is not an easy thing! NO!

What's the Glory for, if not for freedom, the freedom to be, to live, to shine with God's presence, the freedom to be the sons and daughters of God, no longer slaves, no longer slaves to sin, no longer slaves to the idols of our passions, or the idols of our nation, or the idols of our pride or vanity. The Glory is the freedom to be transfigured from Glory to Glory.

For you know brothers and sisters that you are glorious, God made you that way… but when you don't know it, when you can't know it, because you are put down, or put yourself down, when you are cast down or cast out, you can't know it…but you are glorious.. Glory… And you are going from Glory to Glory.

For you are the object of God's greatest miracles: You are subject to transfiguration.

You can indeed be filled with Glory, and transfigured, You and me.

"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:

As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;

His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on."

Jesus went up on the mountain, and he was transfigured, he was Glorified.

And he comes back down and he goes to Jerusalem and he dies to make us free.

And what do we do? What do we do?

Where is our Glory shown? Next day, remember, his disciples could not cure the young man. Jesus has the Glory and Jesus has the power, and Jesus heals him. Everyone was astonished at the greatness of God. O there was Glory alright, Glory there, Glory to God in the highest. But there was no Glory in his disciples, no glory in us.

Maybe it is because the disciples were not all that interested in people being free, maybe they were preoccupied with what the mount top experience was about… The Transfiguration of Jesus struck terror in them. The Glory that was all around, shown on them, and they were like those shepherds, sore afraid.

The Transfiguration is not something for Jesus alone, brothers and sisters; it is something for you and me. There is a glory in his bosom that TRANSFIGURES you and me. The whole point to Glory is to live in it, to be that Glory in the world. We are meant to rise to the occasion, not wonder about it. Glory is a full body experience.

Again from the Hymn:

"He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;

Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet;"

Have you got it? Do you understand?

"Be swift, my soul to answer Him!

Be jubilant, my feet!"

Glory is a participant sport. It is not enough to sing Glory Glory Hallelujah!

You've got to live it! Glory! Glory!

You've got to dance it with your feet!

You've got to dance your own way to your own Calvery.

And we will be free.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the lovely sermon...it reached the Global Center just fine and I bet it's still rolling along.


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