March 3, 2019 at 4:39 pm
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This past Sunday was Transfiguration Sunday, where we remembered the story of the transfiguration and God’s invitation of the disciples to listen to Jesus. Jesus’ transfiguration is an intriguing and illuminating story. One day, Jesus took his disciples Peter, James, and John to the mountaintop to pray. While praying on the mountaintop, Jesus is transformed before the disciples eyes, his face and clothes change and a radiant glow shines forth from him. Then, Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus. In this mystical experience, Jesus’ identity as God was affirmed. God tells the disciples, “This is my Son, the chosen one. Listen to him.” The disciples had all sorts of voices speaking to them- voices of the Roman government, Jewish leaders and Pharisees, families, friends, and their own internal voice. Out of all these other voices, God invites the disciples to listen to Jesus.
We too all hear all sorts of voices throughout the day- voices of politicians, authority figures, family members, friends, and even voices in our own heads. In the midst of all the other voices in our lives, the top priority voice for us to listen to is that of Jesus. As Christians, listening to Jesus is one of the most important, if not the most important, things we can do.
This week was a difficult week to be a United Methodist. At General Conference this week, the One Church Plan, the plan that the Council of Bishops recommended, failed. Instead, the Traditional Plan passed in a vote 53% to 47%, a vote that shows the bitter division in the church right now. While the Traditional Plan passed, 2/3 of American delegates voted for the One Church Plan, so this decision has created much angst within the American United Methodist Church right now. The Traditional Plan upholds, strengthens, and enforces the current language in our Book of Discipline (the book that contains the doctrine and law of the UMC). However, much of the Traditional Plan was ruled unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. As of right now, we are not sure what we have, as we wait for an official ruling from the Judicial Council in April 2019. Some are grateful this plan passed, while others feel hurt, angry, and personally harmed by this legislation. Whatever your emotions about General Conference, the invitation from the Transfiguration story remains pertinent. Listen to Jesus. We wonder, what would Jesus’ response be to this General Conference and the legislation passed? What would Jesus have to say about how we have treated each other this week? What would happen if we all took some time to take a deep breath, stop, and listen to Jesus?
This Wednesday we begin our Lenten journey. More than ever we need Lent right now, with its emphasis on prayer, self-denial, and listening to Jesus. This year during Lent, our sermon series is entitled “Listening at the Cross.” We will be journeying through the last words of Christ before his crucifixion. In the wake of General Conference, we hope the journey to the cross this Lent will help us all open our hearts and ears to Jesus.
Monday- Mark 9:2-9
Tuesday- Luke 9:28-36
Wednesday- Matthew 17:1-8
Thursday- Mark 8:27-38
Friday- Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. Julian Treasure says, “I think listening is the most generous gift you can give another human being.” What are your thoughts on that statement? Why do you think that is?
2. Spend five minutes in silence each day this week, praying the prayer of Samuel “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” As you listen to Jesus this week, what does he reveal to you?