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A Moment Of Glory
February 9, 1997

MARK 9:2-9

There are moments in life, fleeting moments, when the curtain between the natural world and the spirit world is drawn back and we glimpse, just for a moment, the glory of God. We see how life is so much more than our day to day existence. For a moment, we see ourselves from a new perspective. For a moment, we see Jesus.

Peter, James and John-- the Big Three of the disciples, Jesus' Cabinet-- accompanied Jesus up Mt. Tabor, about a six-day hike from Caesarea Philippi. Toward the end of Jesus' ministry, Jesus took his disciples on a long walk up north to what is now the northern boundary of Israel, to the mouth of the Jordan River. There he put the question of their lives to them. There he took a deep breath, and asked them the question each of us must answer, and the answer determines our future, determines our very existence, determines our relationship with the Creator of the galaxies. Jesus asked, "Who do you say that I am?" Peter answered. Peter knew. Peter finally got something right. He said, "You are the Messiah." Jesus is the one for whom they had been waiting. Jesus is the one for whom they had been longing. Jesus is the one the prophets foretold.

Then, Jesus began talking about suffering and dying. The disciples didn't want to hear it or believe it. Worse, Jesus told those who would be his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) They suffered a double shock to their preconceptions of the future. Jesus must suffer at the hands of his enemies, and they must suffer in order to follow Jesus.

The transfiguration occurred right after this doubly distressing pronouncement. There, on the mountain top, Jesus was caught up in a dazzling, brilliant light. And, two great figures of Judaism, Moses and Elijah, representing the cornerstones of Old Testament religion, the law and the prophets, (Moses symbolizing the Law and Elijah symbolizing the prophets), talked with Jesus. Then suddenly, the disciples saw only Jesus, and heard a voice from the cloud saying,"This is my son, the Beloved; listen to him!" In this dazzling moment, it was revealed to Peter, James and John who Jesus was. They had a glimpse of Jesus in all his glory.

For a moment, they forgot about suffering, persecution and death. For a moment, they forgot about crucifixion. For a moment, they forgot about the constant attacks by the scribes and the pharisees. For a moment, they forgot about where they were going to get their next meal. They forgot about their health problems, hardships, setbacks. For a moment, they glimpsed the transcendent. For a moment, they had a glimpse of God's majesty, God's glory. For a moment, they saw Jesus in a new way; they saw Jesus in transcendent glory.

Have you experienced a moment of glory? Have you glimpsed the spirit world? Have you glimpsed the glory and majesty of God? Have you had a spiritual, life-changing experience? Morton Kelsey surveyed a group of Roman Catholic lay people and found out that most of them reported having had a mystical, life-changing experience. However, most of them had never told anyone about it! Why? You know the reason. Most of them said, "They would have thought I was crazy." Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences.

Let me share a moment of glory I experienced. I was in the process of leaving my previous church and coming to Merced. Moving is always disruptive, but this move was especially difficult. I was leaving after ten years as Senior Pastor, plus five years previously as an Associate Pastor. It was not an easy pastorate. The church has a history of running through pastors. Besides deep emotions about moving, I was told I was going to Merced where the congregation was in turmoil and very upset with the conference. It was in May. I was the Spiritual Director on a Walk to Emmaus (an experience I covet for all of you). On Friday evening, through a guided meditation we were encouraged to ask Jesus two questions. Following the service, I remained in the sanctuary of the Atwater Church, went to the altar, knelt and let the tears come. I cried and cried. While I wept cleansing tears, the answer to my first question came to me, but not the answer to the second question. The next morning, I gave one of the talks. Following the talk, a woman came to me and said, "Doug, I need to talk with you." We stepped outside and she told me that while I was speaking, she saw an aura around me, a bright, white light. Then, flooding her came a message to tell Doug such and such. She proceeded to tell me the answer to my second question! God used her, and together we experienced a moment of glory.

Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences, but have not shared them. Perhaps some of you have had similar experiences, but didn't realize what you were seeing. Perhaps you were frightened, embarrassed, and quickly slammed the door. Perhaps some of you are not seeing what is happening, and are missing moments of glory.

G. K. Chesterton once said, "The world does not lack for wonders, only for a sense of wonder." I believe God is constantly knocking at your door, hoping for it to crack open a bit, so God can reveal to you how much you are loved. God is all around you, nudging, prodding, waiting to pull back the curtain for you to experience a moment of glory.

John MacDonald in one his mystery novels wrote,

I think I was a refreshing experience to him because he finally realized I was absolutely sincere in not giving a dang about money...We were standing in the yard a month ago. One of the last leaves came off the maple tree. So I picked it up and made him look very closely and carefully at it. I made him see it. Then I asked him what it was worth, without cracking a smile. I could almost see the light bulb going on in the air over his head, like cartoons. Then, I fed him that speech... If there was one sunset every twenty years, how would people react to them? If there were ten seashells in all the world, what would they be worth?

There is glory in a maple leaf. There is glory in a sunset. There is glory in a seashell. There is glory all around you. The great preacher of yesterday, Harry Emerson Fosdick, witnessed a moment of glory on a bus. He wrote,

Riding on a New York bus recently I watched a girl with a brand-new diamond ring on the third finger of her left hand. Altogether unconscious of anybody or anything except her own happiness, she sat quietly looking at it. Now, I know what a diamond is in prosaic, scientific terms, because I went home and looked it up. A diamond is a form of crystallized carbon in which every carbon atom is "symmetrically surrounded by four other carbon atoms, arranged at the corners of a tetrahedron in such manner that the whole crystal is one continuous molecule." That is a diamond. But I should not consider it particularly worthwhile to disturb that young girl's thoughts by telling her that. She was seeing in that diamond something that all the scientists who ever drew diagrams of carbon atoms had never seen-- for she was seeing through the eyes of love.

There is glory all around you, glory waiting to break into your natural world with a glimpse of transcendence. Like Peter, James, and John, may your moment of glory bring you into the presence of God. May your moment of glory give you a clearer vision of Jesus. May you also see Jesus in transcendent, triumphant glory. What the Christian life is all about is an intimate relationship with God. The creator of the galaxies actually wants to be your friend. The omnipotent, almighty architect of all there is wants to be involved in your life. Jesus wants to lead you, walk with you as your friend, and power you with the Holy Spirit so you can be the person God created you to be, to live as God intended, and do God's work.

A major part of doing God's work is spreading the gospel and inviting others to know God. Don't be selfish and try to keep Jesus to yourself. I don't know why so many Methodists are hesitant about talking about the Lord. We are quick to talk about everything else, why are we so hesitant to talk about our faith, to talk about what is most important in our lives. Don't keep your moment of glory to yourself. Help others experience moments of glory. We have been given a unique opportunity with the Impact World Tour coming to Merced in ten days. The churches of Merced are really working together on this, and it is exciting. You can invite people, not to church services, but to see muscle men break boards with their hands, kids dance and sing, South Pacific islanders dance.

You were challenged last Sunday by Richard Perez to list three or four unchurched persons and begin praying for them. Pray God to be with you as you invite them. Be courageous. Be excited about your faith. Imagine them coming to know Jesus. Imagine them discovering the love of God. Why are we hesitant to approach people and ask them to go to the County Fairgrounds with us? Are you afraid, embarrassed, or have you not had a moment of glory? Have you not had experiences in which God has come very close to you? Or, do you not have a personal, life-changing relationship with Jesus? If not, come to the altar this morning, receive God's love for you, and commit your life to Christ.

© 1997 Douglas I. Norris