Sunday, February 10, 2013

Last Sunday After Epiphany

I have not been posting my sermons 
for many reasons.  
Today i had requests to post, 
so here it is...

A time set apart.  On a mountain.  With God.  It does something to and for a person.  The Celtic Christians call such places and times “thin.”  Places and moments the distance between heaven and earth is so thin you can almost reach out and touch heaven.

This morning we see Moses as he comes down from Mount Sinai.  He has been with God.  As he comes from the mountain, his face is glowing from being in the presence of God.  Aaron and the Israelites are afraid and hesitate to come near him.  Moses places a veil over his face, a covering signifying he is no longer in the presence of God. 

This is the Moses who sees a burning bush and argues with God about going to pharaoh and leading his people out of bondage.  He says he can’t speak well.  God still wants Moses.  God gives Moses a fancy stick and his brother Aaron as a spokesperson.  Remember the end of the story?  Today we remember what happens when Moses allows his time with God to transform him and his people.  Moses has been to a thin place.

Moses did not want to be a leader, yet he became one of the father’s of our faith and his stories are preserved for all time.  A man who tried to run from God, a man who then lets himself be transformed by God.  On a mountain, in a thin place.

Jesus heads up a mountain with Peter, John, and James.  Suddenly Jesus’ face changes and his clothes become white.  Moses and Elijah appear. Peter is so astounded by what he is seeing comes up with a plan to build houses for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  Perhaps hoping to capture this thin place for all time.  Then a cloud covers them and they become afraid.  In the cloud they hear, “this is my son, my chosen, listen to him.”  

We often focus on Jesus when we talk about the transfiguration and what happens to him in this thin place, but for now, let us look at Peter, James, and John.  In this time on the mountain they are transformed by God.  They are in a thin place that day.  These ordinary men who go on to do great things.  They are by no means perfect, one will even deny Jesus later, yet in this thin place, God transforms them.
Gathered with our bishop and canon and other clergy on a holy mountain I was blessed to be in a thin place this week.  One many of you know well.  In our time together we reflected on letting the veil between us and God be lifted. 

We looked at how we make a place thick….

how we block God from our presence…

how we so fill our time with “stuff” that the barrier between heaven and earth becomes a place so thick we can no longer get to the other side. 

Unlike Moses and his veil, we put things between ourselves and God in the guise of being in control and being productive.

Our speaker, Canon Peter Doll, called these our “default settings.”  Those things we hold onto that place barriers between God and ourselves.  We get so good at moving to these default settings that we lose sight of the holy.  We allow ourselves to be transformed by the world rather than by God.
Yet God continues to beckon us from the other side of that veil.  God continues to reach out to each of us.  Here in this place, we are able to meet God in one another, at this table, in our prayers, and even in our silence. 

In those times, do we allow God to transform us? 

Do we allow ourselves to step into that thin place?  That place where for just a moment the veil drops and we are once again in God’s presence?

Soon we head from the time of Immanuel, God with us, into a season of reflection.  A time set aside to go into the desert with Jesus.  A place we often fear and yet truly a thin place.

Will we allow ourselves to be in God’s presence in this season of Lent?  To let the veil drop?  To let God become our default setting once more?

One of the ways we allow a place to become thin is the journey we take, the pilgrimage.  A place is made holy because the people of God make it holy.  We have times we get so caught up in busy-ness that we forget we come to holy places and there we are able to journey.  Journeys with God that can take place right where we are…

through bible study


quiet time

physical acts that quiet our minds

and in many other ways.

This life of faith is a journey.  A journey back to God.  A journey to thin places.  Those places we experience God.  Those places we let God transform us.  The God who If we do not seek, we are unlikely to find.

As we enter lent we are given the perfect time to enter a journey back to God.  A time to voluntarily go into exile from those things that place barriers in our hearts and lives.  Barriers between God and ourselves.

My brothers and sisters, will you journey with me into the cloud of unknowing?  To the mountain to be with God?  To return again to our default setting that allows God to work in and through us? 

In this season to come, will you allow God to transform us?  To remember again how to dream dreams of God?  To show our love for God by resuming our mission to love God, God’s creation, and our neighbors?

Stop and listen, let go the rush and noise.
Let all that you are wait quietly before God.
Let the busyness of your body rest,
Let the worries of your mind rest,
Let the doubts of your heart rest.
Hear God's call to holiness.
Allow the Spirit to transform and recreate,
Busyness into peace,
Worry into trust,
Doubt into hope.
Let all that is within you rest and find God.

(c) Christine Sine  (used with permission)


  1. intentional living..
    "we are able to meet God in one another, at this table, in our prayers, and even in our silence."
    I would add, in our creativity also, if we are choosing to intentionally 'draw near to Me and I will draw near to you" .

    Great post and challenge, Julie Anna! blessings..