“Listen”


Click here to hear the audio recording of this sermon.

Sorry for the delay in posting this week. For some reason I thought that I already had, but didn’t.

Matthew 17:1-9 • March 6, 2011

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.

There are many scenes throughout scripture that center the story on a mountain. Moses, Elijah, David, Jesus and the disciples. I always struggle with texts that are on the mountain, because I’m not much of a fan of mountains. I don’t mind visiting from time to time, but for me – I am most at peace when I’m on the prairie. The rolling hills and ability to see for miles in the wide open spaces are home for me.

I need to come down from the mountain and re-center on the prairie. If I had to appreciate a mountain in order to fully experience God speaking to me in texts like we have in Matthew today, I’d be in big trouble. Our relationship with God is not about climbing a mountain in order to fully see Jesus or staying on the mountain in order to place a bubble around Jesus so nobody else can enter or be part of our club.

The transfiguration, that mysterious transformation of vision that is in today’s readings, is not in the trek up or down the mountain or the way Peter seems fixated on staying on the mountain so they won’t have to face what lies ahead or the fear that overtakes them during this mountain journey.

The transfiguration for me this week in this text from Matthew’s gospel is God’s voice and what God says in a bold and strong way. “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
Listen.

I’m a parent. And one of the greatest joys and challenges in my life is fulfilling my vocation as a parent. I’m guessing that any of you who are parents can relate very easily with the joys and challenges that I am thinking about and those of you that are not parents can relate because you have compassion for us who are and believe deeply in God’s command to love your neighbor as yourself.
Here is an example of one such joy and challenge of my vocation as a parent. It is a great gift for me to be able to spend time with my girls in the morning and drive them to school nearly every day.

Inevitably though, not all of these mornings are filled with joy and peace. Many important discussions take place over what to eat for breakfast, who got more milk in their cereal, how many and what kind of clips one is allowed to put in one’s hair, how long one should have to brush their teeth in order for their teeth to be considered clean, who will be wearing which shoes or a particular outfit, or which order the backpacks are supposed to be placed in the trunk of the car.

I think you know what I’m trying to share with you here. I mean, these are deep, meaningful, important, life-changing conversations and decisions. They are significant issues that must be solved if we are ever going to be able to get to school on time and get the day started.

Every once in a while, I, as the person called to serve in the vocation of parent during these intense situations, need to enter into these conversations and decisions. I need to be the voice that says, “Stop. Listen to what’s going on right now. What should be going on right now? Listen.”

Peter, James, and John seem focused on similar conversations and decisions many times in the gospels. Their plan in today’s text involves real estate development on the mountain for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah to have a vacation property to meet and discuss what’s new.

It’s God who steps in and says – “HEY! – wake up. Quit trying to climb the mountain. Quit trying to keep everything in the comfortable little world that you think you can create. Just knock it off! Here’s what you need to do – this is my son. I love him. Listen to him.”
Is Jesus the only one who is changed in this mountain top transfiguration? Or – are Peter, James, and John also changed.

I’d like to think that as I live out my vocation as a parent, not only are my children transformed in our encounters before school each day – but I think I’m transformed as well. I hope and I pray that every experience I have with my beautiful girls transforms us as sons and daughters of God who daily seek to follow the transfigured and risen Jesus.

Jesus relationship with his disciples changed over time as their relationships with each other changed and grew. I’d like to believe that the experience they shared with Jesus that day on the mountain transformed who they were as followers of Jesus. I don’t’ think they understood the journey that was before them, but they knew they had to listen as they followed.

Take a minute and think about some of the relationships in your life. Do you take time in those relationships to really stop to listen? Do you really turn off the cell phone or the iPad or the television to really listen? Do we take time in the relationships of our lives and the experiences that we share in those relationships to really hear God speaking to us?

God’s call to you and me today is not to build a new condo for Jesus to hang out with Moses & Elijah. Jesus is not kept on a mountain or in a building; he is present wherever we may be.

God’s call to you and me today connects us with this Jesus – “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased.” Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection we are called sons and daughters – children of God.

“Listen to him.” God’s call to you and me today is our response to this Jesus.

Listen.

As we begin another journey together this week through the season of Lent, take time to listen.

You don’t need to climb any mountains. You don’t need to put up any buildings. You don’t need magic tricks or special effects.

Just listen.

Listen in the people you will meet.

Listen in the experiences you will have.

Listen in the joy of God’s creation that is always around you.

Listen in your brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow children of God, sitting with you in this time of worship right now.

Listen.

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About Pastor Craig Schweitzer

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in my life and in the world in which I live and serve. I am a husband, father, brother, son, friend, pastor, and maybe most significantly – a child of God! My beautiful spouse Wendy and I live in Bismarck, ND with our twin daughters, Ilia and Taegan and our crazy dogs Henri & Sadie. I’ve serve on the staff of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND since July 2001. I was first called to serve as Music & Worship Minister, in 2010 was called to serve as Pastor of Worship and Youth Education, and in January 2014 was called to serve as Senior Pastor. My professional background is a diverse collection of musical and educational experiences that ranges from live concert production and promotion to recording studios, and live performance to music education. Prior to joining Good Shepherd, I was an Instructor of Music at Bismarck State College and owned and operated a successful teaching studio called 6x6 Guitar Studio. I am a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA and was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in September 2010. Outside of Good Shepherd, I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, reading, listening or playing any and all music, a relaxing round of golf, or spending some quiet time with God. View all posts by Pastor Craig Schweitzer

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