Epiphany as a Verb: “Can You See Him?”
1 Corinthians 4: 1-5, Matthew 17: 1-9 ~ Rev. G. Scott Turnbrook ~ February 23, 2020
If I told you that I have seen Him would you want to lock me up? Or would you want to hear more about my faith? If I truly told you that I have seen Him, would you want to hear my story, my life, my beliefs? Might you perhaps even tell me bits of your story of when you have seen Him?
I have seen Him. I have seen Him in times we might name as death: gathered as family around bedside with a loved one who prepares to take their last breath. Words are shared…of love, of forgiveness, of anger, of regret. And as words are shared, and hands are held, and prayers are offered, I have seen Him there in our midst. Wiping our tears, holding our hands, reminding us that in life, in death, in life beyond death, we are not alone. I saw Him…there. Have you seen Him? For God brings light to all things hidden in the darkness.
I have seen Him in times we might name as a beginning in life: on ultrasound screens showing a newly formed fetus yearning to grow, in the face of a newly born son and daughter that I had the honour of cutting an umbilical cord and unleashing into this world. I have seen Him as we stood around the baptismal fo nt with proud parents. I have seen Him. Have you seen Him? For God brings light to all things hidden in the darkness.
I have seen him in times of crisis. When the evening news seems to reflect chaos: seemingly impossible solutions to be resolved, groups taking sides, blockades, fear of the other, the needs of so many to be considered. Yet amidst that, I have seen Him in the healing of brokenness, in the sharing of grace, in the offering of forgiveness and in the hope-filled ability to see the new possibilities. Have you seen Him? For God brings light to all things hidden in the darkness.
John Calvin, the great Protestant Reformer from the 16th Century once said that the great genius of God” was in God’s coming to us in the human touch of Jesus. Indeed, the heavens and the earth cannot contain God. Yet, somehow, this God is made known to us in Him ~ in his presence, in his touch, He is here. That is how Matthew’s gospel introduces Jesus: “God with us” ~ Immanuel”. Does anything banish our fears more perfectly than the simple human touch? Calvin puts it this way: “all thinking of God, apart from Christ is a bottomless abyss which utterly swallows up all our senses…In Christ, God so to speak, makes himself little, in order to lower himself to our capacity; and Christ alone calms our consciences that they may dare intimately approach God”. (Calvin’s Commentary on 1 Peter 1:20)
As we turn to this morning’s Epiphany text in Matthew’s gospel, this was a time that the disciples, truly saw Him. They had seen him, sort of, before. Yet, they hadn’t truly seen Him until this morning’s text. In the Epiphany, their eyes were truly opened to see who he was. In this passage, God brings light to all things hidden in the darkness and they begin to see with the eyes of faith. Certainly, they had seen Him teach; they had seen Him heal; they had seen him perform miracles. Yet they had not truly seen Him until this very moment on the mountain top because they did not yet have the eyes of faith. A better way to understand what happened to the disciples instead of “transfiguration” is to use the Greek ~ ‘Metamorphosis’. They, and Jesus, were changed as a result of the light shining. On that mountain top, they saw…Him! On the one side, Moses and on the other, Elijah. The culmination of the great prophets, the coming of the Law now arrived. At that moment Jesus’ divinity was affirmed as the light shone and the voice from the heavens rang out: “This is my Son, the beloved; with him I am well pleased.” The metamorphosis was not just of Jesus’ revelation, it was also found in the eyes of the disciples who were given eyes to see God’s light now and into the chaos that would come. They were given eyes to see God’s light amidst the death, the loss, the fear and the resurrection that would soon come. For God brings light to all things hidden in the darkness. In a way, that moment on the mountain reveals the great paradox in faith: that there is nothing the disciples can do to save themselves from suffering; yet there is no way to shield themselves from the light of God that sheds hope in the darkest moments.
Can you see Him? I am always curious, as a Pastor, at what transforms these bricks and beams and windows into a church? These same materials could be used to make a restaurant, or a community centre, or a family home. How do these materials go through a metamorphosis and become an ‘other-worldly’ place where a spiritual family unites to live out their faith and practice being followers of Jesus’ Way? Indeed, there is something about this place that causes us to name it a church? There was something that led the pioneers of Northwood 25 years ago to locate this property, and formulate plans, and pour cement and build a church. Before that, there was something about the people in North Surrey and Fleetwood United Churches that saw their life and ministry concluding in their present locations. They saw His church no longer to be there, but rather to unite and move to 8855 156 Street. The rest, as they say, is history. And we have seen Him here in the joys and celebrations of ministry. In the pains and struggles endured. He has been in our midst of living, loving and serving.
The exciting, and unknown, thing is that the future continues to be written. Shortly, I will hand off this reflection to Rev. Doug Goodwin from the Pacific Mountain Property Development Council who will share some stories of how some congregations in BC have understood their call to provide faithful, new and creative ministry with through buildings. Stewardship, as we discussed last Sunday, has always been a tremendous responsibility for those who follow in His way. Yet, stewardship, can also be one of the most exciting parts of our faith when we truly seen Christ’s leading us on the Way!
Let us hear the story once again; let us hear our faith story in the living of our lives: 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.