February 7, 2016
Rev. Tina Walker-Morin
Pilgrim Congregational Church, UCC
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you O God, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
This morning I have a message for you on change.
So this coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Do you kids know what Lent is? Well Lent is a season during our Christian Year where we take time to really focus on growing closer to God.
Which person that we learn about here at church is really close to God? Jesus that is right. Can you kids name any of the other people from the scripture passage we just read? That is right, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John. And where does this passage take place? On a mountain. Excellent y’all are great listeners. So here we are with Jesus at the top of the Mountain, just like when Moses went up the Mountain and talked to God. Some people think Jesus and Moses went up on the mountain to be close to God, both physically and as an opportunity to get away from distractions so they could give their full attention to God.
Does anyone know what happened to Moses when he hiked up the mountain? God told him to write something down…the Ten Commandments. Then when he came down the mountain, “his face was radiant” (Exodus 34:29).
When Jesus was on the mountain, his face also changed and his clothes became dazzling white (Luke 9:29) then God said “this is my Son, My Chosen; listen to him!” (Luke 9:35). Jesus went through a transfiguration, meaning he changed in form or appearance. Peter, James, and John witnessed a spiritual change and they exalted and glorified Jesus.
Jesus’ changed, both spiritually and physically his appearance changed.
We all change as we get older right? For example what have you all lost during this past year? Teeth! That is right, you have changed in appearance, and you have also grown and gotten taller and learned more. You are transforming.
Today I have one of my favorite items, playdoh. I want you to each take a container and while I keep preaching I want you to transform this playdoh into something that represents Church or God to you. What might you create? A cross, the Bible, the church building, a figure of Jesus, a heart, anything really. So create something, okay?
As our kids participate in a spiritual practice of clay creation, I want to talk a little more about change. There is an old saying that there are two certainties in life, death and taxes. Well I think there are three, death, taxes and change.
Changes are challenging and nothing really will ever be the same as it is now or as it was. I remember when I first moved to Tennessee from Virginia. I missed my friends terribly and looked forward to going home and visiting them. When I came back after several months, I quickly realized they were not the same group of friends that I had left. A few of the couples in the group had split which left one person still around but the other was not, and single friends were now dating someone. The dynamic of the group was different. It was a hard realization that things and people change. I wanted to come home and have everything just like it was before I left. I was like the apostle Peter, trying to hold on to the moment.
Peter is one of my favorite disciples. He is here on the mountain with Jesus witnessing this amazing transfiguration and then Moses and Elijah appear, and he wants to hold on to it. He wants to keep this moment forever. He was so excited and “just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33). Peter wants to hold on, wants to keep them all here together. If it was today I bet he would have grabbed his phone and said “hey, let’s take a selfie!”
What Peter does not realize but Jesus knows, is that things are going to change.
Jesus is heading towards his “exodus”, towards his death and resurrection.
So how do we deal with inevitable change? How did Jesus handle this transfiguration? In verse 28 it states, “Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.” (Luke 9:28). Jesus went up on the mountain and he prayed. But he did not pray by himself, Jesus prayed with others.
Impending change is challenging yet Jesus has given us a road map to handle this change. The first step on this road map is to pray. There are many ways we can pray, by ourselves, with others and through our actions. Many people pray while walking or jogging, through painting and even by creating things out of playdoh.
What did you kids create?
Another way we can handle change is through our physical expressions. This week, I listened to an interview of Amy Cuddy on National Public Radio. She is a social psychologist who has done a TED Talk entitled “Your body language shapes who you are.” To summarize her research she examined how we stand and sit and how it impacts our self-perceived power.
Kids, when you race someone and win, as you cross the finish line do you raise your hands up high or keep them low by your sides? Right, we instinctively raise our hands up high. She calls this a power pose. Kids can you stand up and show me how a super hero stands? Excellent, those, Amy Cuddy would also say are power poses. Through her research she found that if you stand or sit in a power pose for a couple of minutes before a stressful event you will feel more confident and prepared.
I bet Jesus had a power pose. What do you think Jesus’ power pose looked like? I imagine he had his arms outstretched nice and high ready to receive Gods power and grace. Maybe he even had that pose during the transfiguration, when his clothes became dazzling white.
I also like to take a deep inhale and exhale when I strike a power pose. Let’s all stand up or some of you can do it in our seats and give it a try. Strike your power pose and take a deep breathe in and exhale out. Can you feel God’s power? You may be seated.
Jesus, without a doubt, was a man of confidence and took on change. Unlike Peter who wanted to hold on to the moment, Jesus knew what was to come and continued moving towards change. Change is hard to face yet change is inevitable. To help us through change we can follow Jesus’ practices and first pray just as he did and second when we are facing a tough conversation, meeting, interview or just needing more confidence we can strike a power pose and ask for God’s help.
This Lent how are you going to grow closer to God? I invite you to take action this Lent, to do something instead of giving something up. Jesus and Moses climbed a mountain and prayed, perhaps this Lenten you make a promise to God and pray every morning, or maybe it is to read a verse or two from the Bible or volunteer somewhere. Whatever you decide to do this Lent be intentional. It is the perfect time to “repent”, to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. So pray, strike a power pose and become closer to God.
May we be as malleable as playdoh and as strong as Jesus.