Summary: How God brings about the transformation of the Christians. This is much more dramatic, and a much bigger change than what is believed, and the transformation is permanent, changing us into a Christ like being, if only we new.
This sermon was delivered to Holy Trinity in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 7th February 2016; Holy Trinity is a Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries.
“Please be seated, and join me in a short prayer.” Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. Amen. (Psalms. 19:14).
Now and again I enjoy the Natural History documentaries, you the kingdom of the animals, and in there, there is a process called metamorphosis, where some young animals or creatures are dramatically transformed from a junior state into a completely different adult state.
The most dramatic, and the one we are most familiar with, is the change from the creepy crawly caterpillar into the magnificent butterfly which graces our gardens in the summer. The before and after states are almost opposites, hardly believing it is the same creature: one being glutinous and undignified, while crawling on the ground; the other being colourful but delicate, a creature of the air.
And yet this dramatic change, the transformation itself, is rather dull and boring, and to the observer, uneventful. All we see is the caterpillar constantly gorging itself for months, then slowly wrapping a cocoon of silk around itself, and then it going to sleep; … for months in a shabby coat kind of thing. … Then as the summer draw near, … it awakens into this beautiful brightly coloured butterfly. What we don’t see is the process that is going on within the cocoon, the transformation of one creature into another.
Now I am referring to the animal kingdom of course, but there is a great transformation happening on the inside of ever Christian, and like the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, our transformation is equally impressive, and also to the outside world, it is equally unimpressive. … Because in a similar manner, our outside manifestations don’t change all that much, but inside, … a completely new person is being made; … and this transformation is brought about by … the Holy Spirit working us within, … least we know it.
In today’s reading, we see a different transformation, where Jesus went up the Mountain, … then was quickly transformed, from a normal looking human being, … into a completely different God like creature, … something awesome, … where his face shone like the sun. … Did you notice that even his clothes shone, … they became white as snow. … … It was as if he took off some kind of outer garment or suit or force field of some kind, to reveal a beauty within, … a completely different type of being, … but a being that the disciples recognised as Jesus.
Now I know you all know the story, and you all know about caterpillars, but this is only an introduction to the transformation of the Christian which is my topic for this evening.
Christianity in Peters time.
But before we begin, I would like you to think about being a Christian away back in Peter’s time, as this must have been rather difficult, … and different to what we understand today, because back then, Christianity was a completely new religion, and probably treated by the Jews as one of those weird new sects that will soon self destruct into oblivion, … but for those first Christians, it must have been a difficult time, because they were turning their backs, and rebelling against everything they had been brought up to believe, … you know, the whole of the Jewish system, … and they where now on a journey to where, … they did not know.
So basically, we now have two sects of Jews, or should we say, one sect of traditional Jews, and one sect of Christians who were once Jews, … with a few gentiles thrown in which we will ignore for now, … but these two groups claim the same traditional heritage, … they both used the same bible, (the Old Testament, as the New had not been written), … and both worshiped in a very similar way, … within a very similar temple.
So you would think with so much in common these two groups could come together and complement each other, or at least manage to live with each other. … Yet these two groups were completely and utterly divided. The Scribes and the Pharisees and the Religious leaders or teachers of the Law absolutely hated the Christians, and worse, … they wanted to eradicate them.
The Christians too had their own strong feelings, … and despite their commonalities, they knew the traditional Jewish system lacked power, so they too wanted no compromise, … however they were not driven by hated, but by love, … in fact the Christians did their best to convert these Old Testament Jews into this new modern Christian religion.