Mark 9:2–9

Text Focus Sentence: Mark’s gospel presents the transfiguration as a The Rev. Suzanne Trump, Associate Pastor of Formation and Compassionpreview of what would become apparent to Jesus’ followers after he rose from the dead. Confused disciples are given a vision of God’s glory manifest in the beloved Son.

Sermon Focus Sentence: Jesus knows what lies ahead and instructs his disciples to tell no one what they have seen until Jesus is resurrected. 

Function Statement: God is calling us to the next chapter in our history as God’s beloved children.


Questions for Reflection

  1. God calls each of us to take up our cross and follow, what does that mean for you in your day to day life?
  2. As a member or friend of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem what are you most proud of in our history?
  3. How can we honor the rich history of First Presbyterian Church and move forward in the 21st century?

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

  1. Much of the hoopla surrounding the annual Super Bowl football game deals with the commercials that are aired during the super bowl
    1. About a dozen years ago
      1. One particular ad for Chrysler was aired at halftime in the game and starred Clint Eastwood and the text is as follows
      2. It’s halftime.
      3. both teams are in their locker room discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half
      4. it’s halftime in America, too
      5. people are out of work and they’re hurting
      6. and they’re wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback
      7. and we’re all scared
      8. because this isn’t a game.
      9. the people of Detroit know a little something about this
      10. they almost lost everything
      11. but we all pulled together, now the Motor City is fighting again
      12. I’ve seen a lot of tough eras
      13. a lot of downturns in my life
      14. and times when we didn’t understand each other
      15. it seems like we lost our heart at times
      16. when the fog of division, discord and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead
      17. but after those trials, we all rallied around what was right
      18. and acted as one
      19. because that’s what we do
      20. we find a way through tough times
      21. and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one
      22. all that matters now is what’s ahead
      23. How do we come from behind?
      24. How do we come together?
      25. And how do we win?
      26. Detroit’s showing us it can be done
      27. and, what’s true about them is true about all of us
      28. this country can’t be knocked out with one punch
      29. we get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines
      30. yeah, it’s halftime America
      31. and our second half is about to begin
    2. Well, my dear sisters and brothers
  • A dozen years later and this ad seems just as current as it did in 2012
  1. For FPC-Bethlehem you have endured a schism that broke the congregation apart
  2. What lies ahead for our second half?
  3. How have we picked up the mantle of those who founded FPC-Bethlehem?
  • And it is half time in the Gospel of Mark
  1. The Transfiguration story which lies at the epicenter of the Gospel of Mark
    1. Halfway between his baptism and his resurrection
    2. A voice from heaven tells Peter and James and John to “Listen to him”
  • That is to believe that Jesus’ word, which Peter had disputed, that rejection, suffering, death and resurrection are integral to his messianic mission
  1. And that the way of the cross is equally integral and inescapable for all who follow him
  2. The transfiguration is an apocalyptic moment
  3. Just as at Jesus’ baptism the heavens are torn open and the divine voice first names that Jesus is God’s beloved Son
  • Or when the “young man” announces to the women at the tomb that Jesus is risen
  • God enters the story to uncover what has been hidden from human perception or recognition
  1. Mark locates the transfiguration within a section of the Gospel that weaves together teaching and healings focused on sight and blindness- especially the disciples’ own blindness and resistance to Jesus’ teaching concerning the cross that waits him in Jerusalem
  2. Against this canvas of blindness and misunderstanding, the transfiguration dazzles the senses with images of unearthly white clothing, the presence of Elijah and Moses
  3. And the overshadowing cloud that brings revelation
  • The whole scene is addressed to any disciple struggling to see, to hear, comprehend, and believe the gospel reality
  • The voice from heaven proclaims
  • This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him
  1. And so we find ourselves hear today
  • Struggling to determine what is next for our congregation
  • We’ve had a glorious first half
  • It wasn’t always easy
  • It wasn’t always smooth
  1. We’ve been knocked down before
  • But we have always risen
  • Sure we are vulnerable now
  • But our vulnerability lies in God’s hands
  • Yes, there are challenges in front of us
  • Yes there are and will continue to be struggles
  • But these don’t make us weaker
  • Not at all
  • They point us to God
  • To depend on God’s mercy
  • And it is in God’s mercy that the true power lies
  • It is in God’s mercy that our second half begins
  • It is in God’s mercy that we will win
  • As Clint Eastwood said, this is much more than a game
    1. but after those trials, we all rallied around what was right
    2. and acted as one
    3. because that’s what we do
    4. we find a way through tough times
    5. and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one
    6. all that matters now is what’s ahead
  • what matters for us at First Presbyterian Church is listening to God
  • because it isn’t up to us alone
  • it is in the difficult times in our lives that God proves God’s faithfulness
  • as together we discover what lies ahead
  • as together we discover that to be strong in faith is to accept our vulnerability
  • to trust ourselves to the words of the prophets before us
  1. and to Jesus Christ who chose not the way of power but the way of vulnerability and self-sacrificing love
  • to be a prophet today is to be immersed in the challenges confronting us as God’s people called into this community of faith
  • amid our difficulties and our struggles to throw ourselves to the mercy of the God of Elijah and Elisha
  • to the mercy of the God we know most fully in the beloved Son
  • and so to give voice to God’s vision for wholeness and life
  • both for us and through us for the world
  • and so we begin the second half
  • Amen