31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
February 23, 2020
2 Peter 1:12-21
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Whether your relationship with Jesus is fairly new or decades old, I hope you have had a mountain top experience with Jesus. I hope that there is at least one moment when you knew the glory, the majesty, the unconditional love of God as made known to us in Jesus Christ.
Whether it was when you first met Jesus or at a retreat weekend, in a moment of great crisis or great joy, I hope there is at least one moment in your spiritual journey when God’s amazing grace and Christ’s unconditional love, when the Holy was so present and real in your life that you knew you were forever changed.
It is that moment the writer of the second letter of Peter is writing about in this morning’s scripture passage. He is remembering that moment, that moment the Christian church calls the transfiguration, that moment when Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them to the top of a high mountain, and they experienced the majesty, the wonder, the holy presence of God. With their own eyes, they saw Jesus transformed, his face like the sun, his clothes dazzled with their brightness. With their own eyes, they saw Moses and Elijah, prophets they had believed long dead. With their own ears, they heard God’s voice say, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased!” (Matthew 17:5)
It was a completely life changing, unforgettable moment Peter, James, and John had with Jesus that day. It was a mountain top experience that transformed their lives completely.
And is the case with all mountain experiences, with all of those moments when the separation between us and the holy is so thin, it was over before the disciples could take it all in. Peter wanted to build dwellings on that mountain. Peter wanted to stay and live there in that amazing grace moment, but as is the case with all mountaintop experiences, they had to go back down to ordinary life.
But Peter never forgot it that experience. To quote the Christmas scriptures, Peter continued to ponder this moment, this mountain top moment in his heart, and now at the end of his life, he was feeling great urgency for the Christian community to expect Jesus.
To expect Jesus.
In this letter, written by the apostle Peter or more likely written in his name and tradition, in this letter, the writer wants the Christian community to expect Jesus, to anticipate that Jesus is coming – into their lives and into the world.
With a great sense of urgency, he reminds them of what they already know. He reminds them of what he has seen. He reminds them to be ready – to expect Jesus.
This is my ministry. I have been called by God, and charged by this church and the United Church of Christ, to remind you of the glory of God, to recall to you Christ’s majesty, to repeat to you in every way possible that God loves you.
This is my ministry – to remind you every day and in every way of God’s amazing, unconditional, transformational love, to expect Jesus in your life and in our world.
But do I do it with enough urgency?
Even having had mountaintop moments when Christ in all his glory was very real to us, even living each day with our eyes and ears open to Christ’s presence, we can sometimes be a little laissez faire about expecting Jesus. We don’t always feel the same urgency as the writer of 2 Peter. We don’t always talk about him and share with others with the same sense of urgency.
We should though. We should feel that same overwhelming need to tell others about this amazing, unconditional, transformational love of God. We should want, be excited and enthusiastic to share with others about the life-changing relationship we have with Jesus Christ, what it means to us to know he is by our side loving us, on the grand mountaintops, in the dark valleys, and all of the places in between.
We should feel a sense of great urgency to tell our story, our stories, of moments when we knew the glory, the majesty, the unconditional love of God, not as some theoretical, lofty ideal but as a real, concrete thing in our lives.
We should feel that urgency because you never know who has stepped foot in this Sanctuary, known or unknown to you, to me, that needs to be reminded or told for the very first time that Jesus is with them, that Jesus is Lord, God’s beloved Son, and what that means is that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever separate any of us from God’s love.
We should feel great urgency to tell of Christ’s love, to tell of our real experiences with Jesus because people are dying out there. There are people who are committing suicide because they think they are junk and that their life doesn’t matter to anyone. There are people who are staying in abusive relationships and situations because they think it is what they deserve and cannot fathom what real, healthy, unconditional love looks like. There are people who are literally dying from loneliness, disconnected from others, disconnected from the One who created them, literally wasting away because no one has told them they belong. They belong to Jesus. They belong to Christ’s community.
There are people within and beyond this Sanctuary who desperately need to know of the majesty, the wonder, the awesomeness of Jesus Christ because to know about Christ’s majesty is to know about Christ’s unconditional, forever love, a love that transforms, a love that saves, a love that frees, a love that connects, a love that heals.
We do well to remember our mountaintop moments with Jesus. We do well to live lives that expect Jesus. We do well to be attentive to the good news, the awesome, healing, connecting, freeing love of Jesus Christ, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, and to let that amazing love rise like a morning star in our hearts. We do well to feel the urgency, to always be on the ready to shine and bring Christ’s light, bring Christ’s love, to those who urgently need to know it – for the first time or the hundredth time.