Summary: The Transfiguration Of Our Lord, Series B

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The Transfiguration of our Lord February 26, 2006 “Series B”

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, on this last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, we recall how Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of your Son’s divine glory, a glimpse into the future that awaited him at the end of his earthly mission to redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith in the future glory that we share with him, as a result of our baptism into his death and resurrection, that we might live our life reflecting your redeeming grace to those around us. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

I would like to begin my meditation this morning with an illustration that I used six years ago, borrowed from Shepherds and Bathrobes, by Thomas G. Long.

How many here this morning remember the movie Back to the Future? The movie centers around the invention of a madcap scientist who has perfected a machine capable of achieving the impossible dream of being able to travel through time. Michael J. Fox plays a teenaged boy who uses the machine to journey to his hometown, as it was in the 1950’s before he was born, and before his parents were married.

What happens in the movie from that point on, is very humorous. The boy meets his parents and discovers what they were like in their awkward teenage years. He dazzles the town with his skateboard, which has yet to be invented, and even manages to introduce Chuck Berry to the guitar sounds of the yet unwritten Johnny B. Goode.

In all honesty, I thoroughly enjoyed this film, as it transported me back to the era of my childhood. Signs of the 50’s abound in the movie; from soda bottles who caps will not twist off, to soda fountains in the drug stores, which served “Purple Cows,” to a service station with uniformed attendants who would check your oil, clean your windshield and pump the gas, which cost you a whopping sum of about 35 cents a gallon.

For all of the movies warm humor, however, it does ponder one serious theme: how possessing knowledge of the future creates an awesome responsibility for how we live in the present. Before moving back in time, Michael J. Fox is warned not to attempt to alter the future in any way. And as the plot unfolds, he has to work vigorously to insure that the future he has already seen and lived, does in fact, develop.

For example, Fox discovers that his mother and father are having a difficult time as teenagers, developing a romantic relationship with each other, and he has to employ every ounce of his inventiveness to insure that the conditions are created which will lead to their mutual attraction, eventual marriage, and most importantly, to his own birth. Otherwise, he will cease to exist. Because he knows the future, he is compelled to work for its fulfillment. //


When I was in seminary, I enjoyed a close relationship with many of my professors. But one in particular was very special to me. He was my systematic theology professor, Aarnie Siirala. Aarnie was a brilliant man, a member of the world think tank, who had authored several books. He was even one of the persons who had been invited to visit the Nazi death camps right after Germany had surrendered, to try to help make sense out of this atrocity. Thus, he also understood history, and its role in shaping our future.

Yet as brilliant as Aarnie was, his office door was never shut. He always welcomed conversations with his students, and never made you feel insecure or naïve, no matter how much you may have exhibited these traits. He was my teacher and my mentor, who, although he is now with Christ in the Church Triumphant, he still influences my life.

One day in my senior year, Aarnie and I had one of our “one on ones,” in which I asked him, “With all that you have experienced in life, what advice would you give me, since I will soon be leaving these hallowed walls for a different life, a life in which I have to give up being a student and become a pastor?”

“Two things,” he said, in his Finnish accent. “First, keep your faith in Christ as your redeemer. In baptism, God has claimed you as his own and promised you a future that transcends life here on earth. Never forget that you have a future due solely to the grace of God, and no matter how difficult your life may become, remember that nothing can take that future away from you.”

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