We’re only going to hear one scripture reading today. It is Matthew’s version of the trip up the mountain, the transfiguration of Jesus, the voice from heaven, and Peter’s response.
Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white. Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased—listen to him!”
When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downward on the ground. Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid!” So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus.
Transfiguring Our Congregation
So I want to ask you a question. What does the word Transfiguration mean to you?
I looked up the meaning of Transfiguration online and this is the definition that I found. “A complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.” Isn’t that beautiful? I’m going to repeat that. Transfiguration is “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.”
In the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, we hear how Jesus was completely changed in appearance. His face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white. And just to make things even stranger, Moses and Elijah appeared with him. Can you imagine how overwhelming that must have been to the disciples? It’s no wonder Peter wanted to build 3 shelters and stay there on the mountaintop.
The Transfiguration hymn that we started our worship with this morning is one of my favorites. How Good, Lord, to Be Here. How many times in our own lives have we said, “It’s good to be here!”
Whenever we are in those “good” places in life, when things are going along smoothly and everything seems to be going our way, we can’t help but wish it would go on forever. We can’t help but wish we could stay in that place.
Beacon is in a pretty good place right now. Yes, it is true that with the loss of both Yarmouth Young Learners and the Bridge Club our finances are not quite as secure as they were and we are going to have to look at ways of increasing our revenue. But overall we are still in a good place, a place that many churches today would envy.
So if we are in such a good place, why not just stay here? Why not just keep going the way we are? Why change?
How good, Lord, to be here! Yet we may not remain; but, since you bid us leave the mount, come with us to the plain.
Our lives are not lived on mountain tops. As a church, we are not called to isolate ourselves within the comfort of our building. We are called out into the world around us to follow where Christ leads, knowing that Christ is with us.
So what would it mean if we were to allow God to transfigure our church? I go back to that definition I shared at the beginning. Transfiguration is, “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.” What if our church were to change form into a more “spiritual state”?
We have been spending some time as a council lately talking about what changes we might consider that would make us a more efficient church. We decided that maybe it was time we looked at that question as a church. Who are we? Who do we want to be? And how do we get from here to there?
So we have decided to undertake a year-long process of exploring these questions. Each month, with the exception of Lent and Advent, we will spend one Sunday each month exploring who we are, what our strengths and weaknesses are and where our growing edges might be.
We are going to start this process today. We are handing out a short survey about our worship here at Beacon. We ask that you take a couple of minutes to fill those surveys out and return it to Janet Sollows at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call Janet or Irene White with your comments and ideas.
Please remember that your suggestions will not be seen as a criticism of what we are doing now but rather as ideas for how we might be more effective in our ministry moving forward.
Proclamation – Is this a “Good News” place?
(A survey on worship at Beacon United Church)
(Adapted from Discerning Your Congregation’s Future: A Strategic and Spiritual Approach
Roy M. Oswald and Robert E. Friedrich, Jr. – An Alban Institute Publication)
Other Comments (use back of sheet, if necessary):
Thank you! Comments will be discussed by the Faith Formation Team at a future meeting(s).
It is true that Beacon is in a good place right now, but just imagine where we might end up if we allowed our church to be truly “Transfigured” in the sense of that definition I spoke of earlier. If Transfiguration is “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state” just imagine what we might be able to do and be if we were to undergo “a complete change of form” that allowed us to become a more “spiritual” church. Isn’t that, after all, what God calls us to do?