Summary: Uses the theme of the 2002 Winter Olympics "Light the Fire Within" to show how the Light of Christ shines in the people of God.
Carrying the light of Christ
Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
There’s something special about an Olympic year, especially when our country is hosting the Olympic Games. There seems to be a special excitement in the air, as the eyes of the world focus upon us, sending their best athletes to compete against the best from the rest of the world. Salt Lake City, Utah, has rolled out the red carpet to host athletes and spectators from around the globe for 17 days of pageantry, competition, and excellence.
Let’s see a show of hands… How many of you stayed up Friday night to watch the opening ceremonies? Weren’t they fabulous? I think my favorite part was all those skaters in their elaborate costumes, telling the story of North America, and the music, lights, and drama that went into the telling of the story.
The theme of this Winter Olympics, “Light the Fire Within,” was picked well before September of last year, yet it is a fitting theme, especially given the terrorist activities and events of these past months. The darkness and challenges that we face can be overcome if each one of us can “Light the Fire Within.” This theme calls us to greatness on all levels: individual, communal, national, and global.
The drama of the torch entering the arena is intense. The crowd lets out a sigh of excitement just before the cheering begins. The lighting of the Olympic Cauldron signals that the games have begun. The excitement builds as the flame is handed off to each new runner, making its way through the arena, closer and closer to its destination. As the runners climb the stairs, they pass cheering athletes and spectators, who are all caught up in the excitement of the moment, becoming a part of an experience that is greater than their own individual experience.
As the flame climbed the metal structure to light the Olympic Cauldron, the cheers grew, and, finally, the awaiting Cauldron burst into the glory of the Olympic flame. Success!
The journey of the Olympic flame is complete again. Our nation’s pride and excitement has been building to this for several weeks. Traveling over 13,000 miles, the flame was kept alive, leaving in its path a wake of appreciation, pride and Olympic spirit.
Our worship life has also been on a journey of light these past few weeks. We have been traveling through the Epiphany season, hearing about the light of the world, Jesus of Nazareth. As we experience our journey of faith we have been experiencing Jesus’ own journey since his birth and baptism. We have been called to let the light of Christ shine in and through each one of us, so that those around us might see that Christ is Lord of all.
In our Gospel reading today, we climb the mountain with Jesus and his disciples, to experience the glory of God shining through Jesus. He is transfigured, his face shining like the sun, and his clothes turning a dazzling white.
Suddenly there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. What an amazing experience that must have been for Peter, James, and John! First, their leader and teacher is transformed into an image of radiance and shining light, and then he is in the midst of the great heroes of the Jewish faith, Moses and Elijah. These two were the very embodiment of the Scriptures of Jesus’ day: the Law and the Prophets. One could call Moses and Elijah two of “God’s Olympic Lights.”
First, there was Moses. Moses was credited with writing the first five books of our Bible, and leading the people of Israel out of slavery and to the Promised Land. Moses first experienced God’s Olympic Flame in the burning bush at Mount Horeb, the bush that was burning, but was not consumed. From this flaming bush, God called Moses to lead God’s people out of their slavery in Egypt, to the freedom of the Promised Land.
Moses indeed led the people out of slavery and to the Promised Land, but after 40 years of wandering in the desert. God was with the children of Israel, even during their 40 years of wandering. God’s light shone for the Israelites, leading them by pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. And Moses led the people, serving as judge and arbitrator over disputes and disagreements among the people. Moses received the Law on Mount Sinai, and led the people with God’s own words.
We know quite a bit about Moses. Even those not a part of the church know a little about him. But the second man seen with Jesus is not so well known.