Sharing Your Shine

Sharing Your Shine

The Transfiguration
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling bright, such as no one on earth could brighten them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us set up three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

The Coming of Elijah
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Mark 9:2-9 (NRSVUE)

Today, we heard the story of the Transfiguration. The word “transfiguration” means “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state.” Now, the story of the transfiguration is kind of a strange one because it’s filled with mystery and intrigue. And I am pretty sure that had we been there on the mountain with Jesus and his friends that day, our mouths would have dropped open in disbelief as Jesus’ appearance started to change and he began to physically shine. Can you imagine? And then, as if that weren’t surprising enough, we see Moses and Elijah, two incredibly well-known prophets in the history of our faith who lived more than a thousand years earlier.

Well, friends, because today is Superbowl Sunday, I always feel called to meld an illustration of our faith into a metaphor for football. I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s also kind of fun to do. Years ago, on Souper Bowl Sunday, I preached a sermon titled “Tailgating with Jesus.” Now I have to be honest, it was one of those much more exciting Superbowl days because our beloved Patriots were playing. (Though looking back to that year, 2011, it was the year they ended up losing to the New York Giants!) But that day, as we reflected on the story of the feeding of the five thousand, we imagined the feeding of the five thousand as a huge tailgate party. Because, at a tailgate party, everyone is welcome, and there is always enough food, fun, and excitement to go around! And there couldn’t be an easier tie-in to the Souper Bowl of Caring when we collect cans of soup or money to help feed our hungry neighbors because the story was all about sharing what you have and feeding those in need.

Well, I’ve been racking my brain over the last few weeks, trying to figure out how the transfiguration could be used in a football metaphor. And I was struggling until suddenly, it was as though a light turned on and all became clear. In the Gospel of Mark, the story of the Transfiguration comes right in the middle or at the center of the story between Jesus’ baptism in chapter one and the resurrection of Jesus in chapter sixteen. The mystery and the message of the Transfiguration are so important that Jesus and the disciples must travel up a high mountain, above and beyond everyday life and its experiences, and that tells us that this is something very important. Because it is there, and only there, in that special time and place, that Jesus begins to physically shine. And then, as if Jesus shining wasn’t enough, the well-known prophets Moses and Elijah appear. Finally as scripture tells us, just as quickly as it began, it was over and the disciples head back down the mountain with Jesus.

I don’t know about you, my friends, but what I suddenly realized is that sounds like an amazing halftime show for the gospel of Mark! Because I am sure that tonight at half time up on a big high stage, we’re going to see lights and glitter and things that shine. We’re going to see well-known people like Usher, Post Malone, Reba McEntire, and others appearing out of nowhere. Our mouths might drop open at the things that we see. And then, just as quickly as the halftime show begins it will end and it will all be cleaned up as we return back down to the football field for the second half of the Super Bowl.

I know you may be thinking, a halftime show for the gospel of Mark? Usher, Post Malone & Reb McEntire? What does all that have to do with my faith and my everyday life? Well, hold your horses for just a moment, my friends, because you haven’t heard the good news yet. But here it comes. You see, even though we never climbed that mountain with Jesus and saw him physically shine, and we never saw Moses and Elijah appear before our eyes, we have heard the story of our faith that has been handed down for generations. And even though we may not be on the stage amid the glitz and glitter of the Superbowl halftime show tonight, and we may not see Usher, Post Malone, Reba McEntire, and others in person (though we can watch them on TV if we feel so moved), what we can do is we can choose to shine ourselves. Did you hear that? We can choose to shine ourselves! Because when we decide to help others, we, too, are transfigured in a sacred way because, through our actions, we become the shining light of Christ in the world.

Folks, have you ever seen someone who seems to shine a special light in the world just by being themselves? Maybe it’s their smile, their humble kindness, or their compassionate dedication to helping others. Perhaps it’s simply them loving their neighbor or sharing the gifts that God has given them. Now, though they may shine in their own special way, they may never make it onto the halftime show stage like Usher and Post Malone and Reba, but they can do something far more important. They can light up the world, not with stage lights or fireworks or fancy entertainment props, but by sharing kindness, love, and generosity. And that kind of light and glimmer and glow doesn’t end when the halftime show is over because it is a way of life. It’s an every day, living out your faith thing. And it’s a special and sacred way of sharing your shine.

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, as you go out into your busy week ahead, whether you watch the Superbowl tonight or not, remember that you can choose to shine brighter than any halftime show. All you need to do is remember to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, sharing God’s love and light in all that you say and do.

My friends, may it be so. Thanks be to God, Amen!


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