Transformation in Everyday Life

Rev. Katherine G. Dougherty
Sermon Text: 

Last Sunday After Epiphany

March 3, 2019 – Year C

Luke 9: 28-36 (37-43)

Transformation in Everyday life


         Have you ever had an experience or moment in your life that was incredible – that was beyond words and you hoped it would last forever?

         Peter may have felt that way on the mountaintop with Jesus in today’s Gospel.  His journey that day probably started just like it had many times before Jesus said, “Come with me,” and so they went.  Peter, James, and John followed their teacher up the mountain to pray, but what started out as a simple practice changed them to their core.  Could he have hoped for that moment to never end?  And as their ears filled with the words of God, were their entire bodies overcome with the magnitude of the moment? 

          Some people say that we don’t see moments…“God moments” in our world anymore.  They say that moments described throughout the Bible where God was actively involved in the lives of humans like Peter that day on the mountaintop, don’t happen anymore.  Some argue that we are in charge of our own fate and transformation only happens when we make it happen. 

         As someone who has experienced transformation as a result of God’s grace and love, I am here to say that’s not the case.  No, I never stood on a mountaintop and seen Jesus, Moses and Elijah or heard God’s voice directly, but my life has been changed by God. 

         Somewhere early in my life, I decided for myself that to stay in the shadows or as some say, “to stay off the radar,” was a good way to live life. I was fine shining the light on others and encouraging them to soar.  I was pretty sure that was the gift God gave me in this life.  My relationship with God was not always as active as it eventually became, but I felt comforted by God.  When I attended worship regularly, or did something kind for someone, or stopped myself from gossiping with others, I felt different somehow – not right away but over time.   When I regularly paused before I ate and prayed in thanksgiving for my blessings, or took time at night to think about and pray for folks who were struggling, I noticed after awhile that I was turning to God more throughout the week, and it grounded me in a way that felt good.  None of these things were humungous, but by regularly doing them, I started to change…to transform. I didn’t I realized it at first, possibly not for a long time, but my doing these practices changed me in good ways. 

          I heard a story once about a teacher who was struggling.  He had this one student who consistently frustrated him.  He tried to be kind to the student, but it was getting harder and harder.  One day he decided to start including this student in the prayers he said for his family.  At first it was a struggle, and on some days, he’d forget.  One day at church, after a really hard week with his student, he asked God for help.  He simply said, “God I’m so frustrated with this kid.  Please help me with this student.”  

         As he quietly sat waiting to go up to the altar for Communion, he wondered if his student ever went to church or knew what it was like to be a part of a church community.  This thought led to wondering if his student felt God’s love in his life or even knew God existed. 

         As the teacher rose to go up for Communion, he imagined taking his student by the hand and walking with him to the rail.  He imagined showing his student how to kneel and how to receive the bread and wine. He watched him take it.  Each week at church, the teacher did this for a while.  Several months later, the teacher realized his troublesome student had been behaving more.  The teacher looked at the student’s grades and noticed they had improved.  He wondered what had changed for the student.  The next day on the playground, the teacher was sitting on the bench.  The student came up and plopped down beside him.  As they talked to one another, the teacher asked what had changed for the student.  The young one looked down at the ground and quietly said, “You started liking me.” 

         Transformation is beautiful.  It’s awe-inspiring.  It doesn’t just happen on mountaintops or at the base of a burning bush a long time ago.  When we open ourselves up in ways we haven’t before… transformation has room to occur.  God is with us regardless of whether we notice or not.  God is reaching out to us in hopes we’ll reach back and be in relationship with God. 

         Transformation is a big word, but it can be made up of little changes.  It’s those little changes – the shifts we make in our actions and in our thoughts and in our words that begin the process of positive change.  It takes dedication and practice and patience with ourselves. 

         We are about to head into Lent as we continue this journey with Jesus and his disciples. Lent is a great time to be more mindful of our habits or more intentional with our words.  God is always inviting us to open our hearts in lots of ways.  And sometimes without realizing it - the positive changes we make within ourselves - impact the people around us.  How might Lent be a time of transformation for each of us?            Amen+


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