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Gospel centred sermons, based on the lectionary often in advance.

Feb 12, 2012

Focus Reading: Mark 1:40-45

If we asked the question “As Christians, how should we live?”, even given a broad range of theological perspectives the answers we get could be summarised in one word - “Jesus”. 

So our compass in life, our map, our pointer is the life, the teaching, the death and the resurrection of Jesus. 

The trouble is that there are lots of different Jesuses. There is the Jesus of faith and personal experience There are the historical Jesuses - Jesuses reconstructed by historians. Then there is the Jesus of revelation - or the Jesus of the Bible.

Central my faith is the Jesus of Revelation or the Bible. I have the conviction that life, direction and meaning, all come from outside ourselves. They all come from God - not from creation and not from how we feel, from some inner voice or spark or emotion, but from outside, from God revealed in Jesus and witnessed to in the whole Bible. 

This I believe is what the story of the Transfiguration is all about. 

Try as I might I couldn't get this sermon down to the 10 minutes - Just over 12 this time. For me the Transfiguration with the Ascenscion are not well understood and yet are vital parts of a small o orthodox or traditional Christian faith and life.

Questions for thought or discussion.

What is your compass in life? What role does Jesus play in your understanding of how life should be lived? To what extent should our personal feelings or science or the Bible influence how we live? What do you make of the story of the Transfiguration? Who is the real Jesus?


gilswort
almost eight years ago

SERMON TEXT CONTINUED
Word listen in Greek can sometimes mean to obey. To really listen to God means to take what God says seriously and act accordingly.

I know not all of you will entirely agree with me but I believe that the central message of today's story and the Scriptures as a whole is that our compass for life, how we should be with God/Others.... (etc., etc.) is the life, teaching, death and bodily resurrection of Jesus... and that this Jesus is the Jesus of revelation, God who comes from outside us. Sometimes this Jesus who comes to us through the pages of the Bible says things we find easy to agree with. But often, his words or the stories about him confront us. For instance we may be confronted by the Jesus who apparently fed 5000... Or we are confronted with the Jesus who says in Luke’s Gospel “Blessed are the poor” when we Australian Christians...

I believe that as the church and as individuals to ask ourselves - What is truly our compass in life?..... Is it a Jesus and a God who fits with our world view or self image. Or is it a Jesus and a God who stands outside us confronting us with divine justice and love?

gilswort
almost eight years ago

SERMON TEXT
As Christians how should we live? What is our compass... What is it that we should use as a pointer... How should we live and be with other people...
How should we live and be with God... How do we find where we are... map... key to life... ?

I believe that in many congregations we would get a variety of answers to that question. There are a very broad range of theological perspectives.
But I think if we asked that question “As Christians, how should we live?”, even allowing for a broad range of theological perspectives I believe the answers we get could be summarised in one word - “Jesus”.

So our compass in life, our map, our pointer is the life, the teaching, the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

The trouble is that there are lots of different Jesuses. There is the Jesus of faith and personal experience - the Jesus we... There are the historical Jesuses - Jesuses reconstructed... (Science, Jesus Seminar)... Then there is the Jesus of revelation - or the Jesus of the Bible. (Although even here there are different emphases, it’s the Jesus which emerges...)

Central my faith is the Jesus of Revelation or the Bible. I have the conviction that life, direction and meaning, all come from outside ourselves. They all come from God - not from creation and not from how we feel, from some inner voice or spark or emotion, but from outside, from God revealed in Jesus and witnessed to in the whole Bible. To be sure this Jesus causes a response of faith in me, and I believe there is a sense in which God lives in me, But I profoundly believe that God comes to me from outside and not from within.

This is something that may be very challenging for some of us to understand. In our modern and post modern world, truth and authority usually come from two places. They come from science/ creation... (today's psalm, but...) OR they come from within us...

In the church for a long time we have struggled with how to respond to these two sources of authority... In relation to science some Christians have attempted to argue that anything in the Bible which is not consistent with Science is not true. Either it is a fabrication or it is a story told to illustrate some inner spiritual truth. At the other extreme some Christians argue that the Bible is entirely consistent with Science and that Science proves the Bible is right.
In relation to the claim that truth comes from within some Christians believe in a Jesus who’s main task seems to have been to set an example of the fully realized life and give them pointers to how we can reach inside ourselves and discover the right way to live. While other Christians seem to believe in a Jesus who exists only to meet their own needs to make them happy or even wealthy and prosperous.
This struggle to understand who Jesus is, is not a new thing. The disciples struggled with it too. They were concerned with what was important to them, their own hopes and ambitions.

Over the past weeks in Mark’s gospel we have been following a story which is essentially about revelation - story which today reaches its peak in the transfiguration, where Jesus is declared by God to be God’s own dear Son who’s teaching is to be taken seriously. Truth does not come from inside or from observation... for me truth and meaning and life and direction come from outside and to me that seems to be what this story is saying about Jesus...

Over these past six weeks we have heard the stories where...

Jesus is the one who... calls & the disciples leave....
Jesus is... teaches and the crowd says....
Jesus is... commands & the demons...
Jesus is... heals Peter's... sets her free...
Jesus is.. touches the unclean & makes it clean.. ...restores relationships...
Jesus is.. Who includes us... heals... forgives... and who confronts us when like the Pharisees we want to say...

In Mark’s Gospel the disciples see all of this in person yet the amazing thing is that just like us the disciples struggle to see who Jesus is. Before we get too critical of the disciples let's consider two other groups apart from us who didn't get it.

The Jewish authorities struggled to see who he was. In fact the Jewish people as a whole have not accepted... not anti-Jewish - Jesus was Jewish & so were the disciples!!
And this wasn't a new thing. Moses & Elijah appear with Jesus - a sign that Jesus is fulfilment - Law & all the promises...

But the people of Israel didn't get it either... Under Moses.... At the time Elijah & the Prophets....
In Jesus' time the religious leaders, the ones who should have got it... In Jesus they should have seen.....

And it wasn't just the religious leaders who didn't get it. Those closest to Jesus just didn't get it either.....his family - mad.....disciples....who will be greatest.... After all they had seen!!!

Now we could say - ah well those disciples were a bit thick..... The truth is that we are often the same. When we are confronted with something we disagree with or find difficult to accept we will appeal to... science... our own feeling, hopes dreams or experience... or perhaps in my case, some outside authority...

The disciples were in other words just like us, so to make the whole thing absolutely clear to the disciples, and through them, to us we have this story of the transfiguration which is recorded in Jesus takes 3 of them up the mountain and his clothes are changed... This would have been no surprise to the disciples- they were used to miracles but then Moses & Elijah appear. Now if the disciples had been awake they would hae realized what this meant - Jesus is the fulfilment - promises & law.... But Peter at least, is not awake - so we get this stuff about tents...

So to make sure that they just can't miss who Jesus is - God takes direct action. A cloud appears - A voice comes from the cloud.... You can almost hear the frustration of God.... Listen to him. All of us who are preachers, or teachers, or parents or husbands or wives know about this frustration... You say something clear and obvious that requires some action...(the house is burning down)...
Word listen in Greek can