In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The Father speaks His booming voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” This really goes without saying, though, right? After all, who is Jesus but the Word made flesh. And what do we do with words? We listen to them.
Of course, Jesus isn't just any old word, / He is Divine Word, God's Word. Lutherans have always emphasized this point in our spiritual lives: the primacy of the Word of God. Just take the catechism for example. Baptism, we rightly define as not just plain water, but what? “water included in God's command and combined with God's / Word.” Same thing with the Sacrament of the Altar: “How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?” we ask. And the answer: “Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things [ie, give forgiveness of sins, life and salvation], but the words written here...These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament.”
So we lift up the Word to His rightful place. And yes, I used the pronoun “he” instead of “it”, because the Word of God is a “He”. When we give primacy to God's Word we are not speaking of ink on paper. The ink on paper is only that, ink on paper. No, God's Word is really / a man. He is Jesus. We lift up Jesus to His rightful place.
The whole worship here (in the Lutheran church), including the hymns, prayers, ceremonies, even the building itself, / this place and what goes on here is all about Jesus, Jesus only Jesus.
We often (and perhaps too often) dumb down Lutheran worship into that one catch-phrase: “Word and Sacrament”. I wanted to be sure to point out to you now that these are not two different things: Word and Sacrament. They are one reality. Jesus is the Word, and He is also the substance of the Sacraments.
So when you ascend the hill up to St John's each week, / and as you are transfigured by the Word and Sacraments that are delivered here, you eventually come to realize the same thing that Peter, James and John did. As the text says: “And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”
You: see Jesus only. Hear Him only. One of our biggest problems / is that we talk too much, or if we don't talk too much then there are certainly other voices who love to fill our ears and our hearts and our minds. So, one of the most precious spiritual talents/skills (which you can pray for daily) is that you would be able to shut your mouth and shut your ears to other voices and just hear Jesus.
This is how it will eventually be, you know. Not only will our eyes and ears be tuned in to Jesus perfectly, but all our senses. We've already begun this in Baptism, and we continue to be sanctified by the Word of God (as Scripture says) throughout our whole earthly journey. Unless, of course, you decide to tune Jesus out.
You look around here this morning and you see many of the faithful sitting with you, listening to Jesus together. But many more are not here. Sure, a couple of them genuinely couldn't be here, that's fine, we are not concerned about them, they would be here if they could. But think of the hundreds more. Or if that is too overwhelming, just think of one or two more, that could be here, but are not. These people are your neighbors, your friends, your family, your coworkers.
Pray for them. Because whatever is keeping them away, whatever spiritual sickness they have, the medicine is given out / here, freely, abundantly. It is the same medicine you have come for this morning.
If a person is weak? // There's a healing Scripture for that: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped.” (Ps 28.7)
If one is lonely, God's Word helps: “Behold,” says Jesus, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt 28)
Is one confused about finding purpose in his/her life? Listen again to the Introit for today: “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Ps 84)
And how about fear? // Scripture does what it says, and Scripture says: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Ps 27.14)
Yes, do wait for the Lord. And as you wait, just listen. Obey the call of the Father, and listen to Jesus.
That is the right mindset to have each week, each day. So, your friends ask you: “what good is church anyhow?” You may respond: only God is good, / but at church we listen to the good God, Jesus.
And as you listen to Jesus, and hear the stories about Him in Scripture, you can all be assured of this: where Jesus is, there you are also. What happens to Jesus happens also / to you. That's baptism: being united with Christ.
Yes, of course, it was Jesus who was transfigured that day. His face shone like the sun; His clothes appeared white as light, and that really doesn't describe any of you, / yet.
But you are not complete in yourself, / yet. You haven't fully become what God is forming you into, or rather forming you back into. Humanity used to be complete and perfect, we used to be in God's image. / Sin distracts you in the most terrible way, away from the most essential thing: the Word of God. On the mount of Transfiguration, there you see God in His glorious image. He is pure light, after all, Jesus Christ is the light of the world, He has come to shine in our darkness, even into your darkness, to enlighten your life as His Word (Jesus) is a lamp unto your feet and light unto your path.
So later this morning, you will go back out on your path. But as you go take these holy Words with you: “And after six days Jesus went up on the mount and was transfigured.” // And after six days, you too come up the mount and be transfigured again, like Jesus, because Jesus changes you with by His holy Word.
In +Jesus' name. Amen.