March 6, 2011 -- Last Sunday after Epiphany -- Ramelle McCall

posted Mar 6, 2011, 2:35 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 6, 2011, 2:41 PM by Terry Brady ]

I keep thinking about this last Sunday of the Epiphany, which means the manifestation  or striking appearance, we see in the Old Testament text the cosmic manifestation of God to Moses, and Peter’s testimony of his experience of the transfiguration of Christ on the mountain, as well as the transfiguration story its self, there is a common theme I beginning to notice in these three texts. These stories all talk about manifestation on the mountain, God presence on the mountain and how God manifested God’s self to the people. Exodus talk about God being this devouring fire that was in the cloud on the mountain. In Matthew, Jesus changing clothes in this experience and then we see Moses and Elijah appear out of nowhere. These events sound a bit scary. we would probably be just as frightful as these humans characters in the text. I am going to say that Peter really did not know what was going on. According to Luke version on the transfiguration, the scripture says that after Peter offer’s three dwellings, the texts says that Peter did not know what he was saying. I am also going to speak for Moses because yes, he has a relationship with God but I can’t help but to wonder if Moses thought , “Well, I’m going up to this mountain but this encounter is a bit terrifying, I am seeing massive clouds and fire and I’m listening this voice. All of this manifestation activity that is happen makes us wonder how to make sense of this entire thing. So my question is what does God want us to receive from these scriptures today??? But then I keep going back to Peter’s explanation of Godly manifestations because he is trying to let whoever he is talking to know that him and others did not make up the story of God’s manifestation, this actually happen. Peter is using his own experience in how he heard the voice of God. “we have made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have have been eyewitnesses of his majesty” (v.16) Peter in this statement highlights something that probably has happen in our lifetime in which there was a cosmic experience and you either witnessed it, heard it, but most importantly you were in that moment. And in that moment, it was more than just a coincidence, it was more than just being lucky, it was that fact in knowing that God’s manifestation actually occurred before your human senses and it can be hard to try to describe it in words, but you knew that God was absolutely present with you in that moment. Peter again is doing all that he can in trying to convince his audience, that we can not speak about God logically. Now we as humans are logical people. I think about how we revere great philosophers and scientists and mathematicians who taught us to embrace a sense of knowing. we thrive on the sense of knowing. we are use to gravity, we are use to knowing that we can tell time, we are use to knowing what the weather will be like before we see the next day, but what Peter and all these other texts are describing goes beyond logic. When we talk about Christ and Christ’s encounters, we must understand that many people will not believe us immediately. Sometimes the only validation that we have about God’s manifestation is that we have experienced it. We have experienced it. Let’s think about this... it almost seems as if we are telling a story to a stranger or friend and say “ You know... you will not believe what I have just seen.” because many things we we see are hard to believe. Peter is using his story  about the manifestation of Christ because it is the one of many ways in which he feels that this can be a light and a sense of direction for the people of God yet knows that everyone may not buy the story. Our role with God also requires us to put ourselves in a place in which we have this experiences with Christ and we are not sure if others will believe it or not but we share it anyway because we know that Christ is real!!! When I think about my own life, I too have had such experiences like Peter which affirmed my calling in this ministry. I can’t tell you the amount of times on this faith journey how I had only hardly two dollars to my name but God made sure that I was provided for through special giving, had bills to pay but suddenly resources came from nowhere, and again I was not anticipating these blessing, but I am like Peter. I saw it, I heard it and I experience it. I truly believe that everyone in this room also in had a blessed experience that did not make logical sense but you know that it happen and that the presence of God was there.   Another thing that I would like to raise is that Peter only talks about what God said in the transfiguration story and not the details such as seeing Moses and Elijah and him offering to make three dwellings. God said “This is my Son, my Beloved, with him I am well pleased” (v.17). It is amazing because this same voice that Peter heard, I believe we hear every Sunday. Whether is in scripture, our worship hymns, Prayers of the People, we believe that all of these components carry the voice of God. we believe that this voice speaks to us, convicts us, but the only way this power in our lives has this significance is if we believe in it.


But biggest point in the passage according to Peter is that  “NO prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation...” let us not overlook the influence of prophecy throughout most of scripture because there are several stories in there that I think are hard to make up. Because we have to believe that scriptures carry a prophetic foundations for all of us to embrace and to treasure and that they speak to us and continues to speak to us. When I think about prophecy, I think about being in my former denomination the AME Church and how the church almost seemed Pentecostal. I remember seeing people speaking in tongues, falling out on the floor in the Spirit, and people running around the church for joy. I argue that these events were not unconventional, but that they were affirmed by scripture. This was one of many worship styles in which people were touched by scripture and just as we are. The voice of God is real. God’s encounters are real. Please believe in this voice of God. Believe in the events in which God can manifest in your life. Believe that God come in ways in which we cannot explain nor in many case hard for our neighbors to believe. The ways in which Christ can move in us is limitless. Lets us not be afraid in how God interacts with us because just as Jesus said when Peter was frightened during the transfiguration He said, “Get up and do not be afraid...” (Matt 17: 7). It is important for us to know that we serve as witnesses of God’s manifestation and power on earth. So do not be afraid to tell your story. Do not be afraid to tell your story.