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    Feb 11, 2018

    Last Week in Epiphany, Year B

    Preacher: The Rev. Ted Foley Deacon

    Series: Deacons

    Category: Weekly Sermon


    If you’ve ever spent any time around a golf course – or even watched golf on television – you’re probably familiar with the term, “making the turn”. This term has its origins from over 300 years ago in Scotland. The layout of the old St. Andrew’s course had the players heading out away from the clubhouse on the first nine holes and then “make the turn” and then come back to the clubhouse on the final nine.

    However, this term is still used today. In modern golf, when a player completes the first nine holes, they sometimes stop at the clubhouse and get recharged with a snack or a drink, and then they “make the turn” to go back out and play the final nine holes.

    So why am I talking about golf?

    In a sense, today’s Gospel reading of the transfiguration of Christ is a reading about Jesus and his disciples “making the turn”. You see, up until this point, Jesus’ ministry was isolated to the region of Galilee and to the north. If you can picture a map, you will see that all the towns that Jesus visited up through chapter 9 of Mark are all up north – Nazareth, Capernaum, Ceasarea-Phillipi, Tyre, Sidon and others. His ministry centered all around the Sea of Galilee.

    However, at this point, right around the time of the transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples literally “made the turn” and headed south. They headed south, towards Jerusalem, intentionally into the eye of the storm that was waiting for them - the Chief Priests of the Temple and the Roman rulers who would conspire to try to defeat Jesus and his message.

    So, the transfiguration happened when Jesus was “making this turn”. And, just like golfers who get recharged before playing their second 9, the transfiguration recharged Jesus and the disciples before making the difficult journey they had ahead of them.

    Now, in terms of Jesus, we know that he was recharged when heard the voice of God reminding him that he is God’s Son. He is God’s Beloved. Just like any of us, when we are going through a difficult time, we too need to hear those words, that we are God’s beloved.

    But it wasn’t just Jesus who came away from the transfiguration recharged. The disciples who were with him – Peter, James, and John – also were recharged. You see, up until this point, the disciples regarded Jesus as a great teacher, a miracle worker, and a charismatic leader.

    But now, seeing Jesus transfigured, shining like the sun, his clothes becoming dazzling white, they knew that they were having a close encounter with God. They were having a mystical experience of God.

    And an experience like this can recharge us too. Last year I preached on this same reading from Matthew. And my sermon was simply a guided meditation where people could put themselves in the shoes of the disciples and experience the transfiguration. After the service, many people told me that it was an energizing experience for them. They felt charged up.

    So, we can understand how, when the disciples were about to make the turn towards Jerusalem, their spirit was recharged through this mystical experience of the transfiguration of Christ.

    When we look at the history of the church, this process of getting charged up to “make the turn” has happened several times.

    We saw it 500 years ago at the Reformation when people got charged up by the knowledge that they didn’t have to earn God’s love - that God’s love is a gift for each of us – grace – given freely to all who accept it.

    We saw it again a couple of centuries later. The church got charged up again at the Great Awakening movements of the 1700 and 1800’s. People got charged up and made a deep and abiding commitment to Christ. These movements marked a turning point in the life of the church. The church was “making the turn”.

    More recently, it’s parishes that are getting charged up. Parishes like St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Deerfield, Illinois. The leadership there made an intentional decision to “make the turn” and get charged up and renewed. As a result, many of their parishioners now have a spiritual life in Christ filled with joy and wonder and gratitude. It’s a beautiful parish, that is growing in the love of Christ.

    A couple of months ago, when Mother Joan told me that Christ Church is embarking on our own renewal, I have to tell you, I got so excited – excited to be a journey with all of you. Excited to be on a journey towards a deeper relationship with God – to be on a journey towards joy and wonder and gratitude, and who knows what else?

    I am so excited to join you as we all “make the turn” and, just like Peter, James, and John, get recharged for the mission that God has set out for us.