TRANSFIGURATION, B – February 15, 2015

 SCRIPTURES – Ps. 99; Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Cor. 3:7 – 4:6; Mark 9:2-9

 

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  Mark 9:9

 

Things don’t always go according to plan. Two weeks ago, on Monday, Feb. 2, I planned to fly to Ohio to visit my mother and then head to my mother-in-law’s house in Florida. Well, a nasty winter storm hit just hours before I was to fly out. Change of plans! I was now flying out on Tuesday morning. And I did – although, the plane left 45” late due to the cold and the time it took to de-ice. I landed in Philly and had 10 minutes to make my connecting flight to Ohio – which, I saw on the board in the terminal, was leaving from gate 37. I was at gate 1. So, I sprinted the length of the terminal and arrived at gate 37 just in time! (Note to travelers: spend a minute to speak to an agent at an airline counter, and don’t rely on departure and arrival signs.) Oh, no! The sign above gate 37 said Greensboro, not Dayton. So, I ran to the counter and found out that the flight to Dayton had been moved to gate 24. So, I ran back and arrived there… just after the plane’s door had been closed. I had to be rescheduled for a later flight.

 

Things don’t always go according to plan. I bet Peter, James and John would tell you this! Boy, what they experienced on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured before them:

  • Jesus shining as a brilliantly white light, as He would in heaven;

  • The ancient prophets Elijah and Moses standing before them, very much alive.

    The description is undoubtedly far short of the actual experience. They were experiencing heaven! “Rabbi, it is good that we are here,” Peter burst out. “Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” They wanted to stay and enjoy the experience, that taste of heaven, for a lot longer than they did. I’m sure they couldn’t wait to describe the awesome experience to others!

     

    Well, things don’t always go according to plan. Not only did that awesome event end; Jesus even ordered them to not talk about it. Imagine having to keep such an experience to yourself! – although, He did say they could speak of it after He rose from the dead. Can you imagine how confusing this reference to His death would have been? How could He, who had just shone with God’s glory and whose light gave life to the dead, ever die? It all must have been very confusing and overwhelming.

     

    Life often hits us this way. Emptying out and leaving my mother-in-law’s house in Florida reminded me of when I did the same with my own parents’ house in Cincinnati a number of years ago. Saying goodbye to Jackie’s dear little 97 year old neighbor, Rudy, who we regularly took out with us for ice cream, was hard. I will probably never see her or be there again. This was not what I had planned.

     

    In life this often happens. An unexpected sickness strikes; a stroke; an accident; your job changes and you have to move. Many things disrupt and change our plans. And, how do we handle it? Maybe we respond as Elisha did (2 Kings 2):

    “Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

    Don’t talk about it and it won’t happen! Ignore it, and maybe it will go away!

     

    Shouldn’t we know better? We should. For one thing, many times in life we see and experience that things don’t always go according to plan. Why should we be surprised? But, also, we have Jesus’ own words about His death coming before His resurrection, His cross before His glory. He also tells us that we must all bear the cross in our lives.

     

    Things won’t always go according to plan. Even so, God has plans for you – and they are good plans. Ultimately, they are eternal plans, plans for eternal life in heaven where you will be transformed into His image. But, before then bad things, even difficult sufferings, will come upon you in your life. When they come you can be sure, however, that they do not come because an angry God is punishing you, or because an uncaring God is not paying attention to what is happening to you. Jesus is the assurance of that! His death for you on the cross is the forgiveness of your sins and their punishment. God is not angry at you who trust in His Son! In fact, in your Baptism, which joined you to Jesus and gave you His forgiveness, His loving Father became your loving Father. God is not an angry or uncaring opponent!

     

    You can also be assured that God’s good plans for you will not be frustrated. Be comforted by what Christ’s transfiguration declares. His shining in glory proclaims that He is the almighty God, one with the Father. His death on the cross came, then, not as a surprise or because He could not prevent it. He is the true God who controls all things! His death on the cross was planned by Him and embraced by Him as the way to eternal life for us. So it will be with everything that happens in your life. Will things always go according to your plans? Of course not! But, nothing will ever be outside of or beyond God’s plans for you.

     

    What are God’s plans for you? Ultimately, they are that you live with Him in His glory in heaven. To bring this about Jesus veiled His glory and for you endured the darkness of your sins and God’s punishment of them on the cross. He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven to prepare a place for you there. Your eternal future is secure.

     

    And now? He at times allows sufferings in our lives so that this eternal glory and good becomes our focus, and not the things of this life. This life, with all of its glory, is passing away. But in Christ we have a life that will never pass away and a glory in heaven that will only shine brighter and brighter. Make this your focus and the topic of your conversation, especially when things are not going as you had planned! And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.