Visit us in Second Life, (http://www.secondlife.com) and search for Sunshine Cathedral.
Call to Worship
Psalm 2. 1-3, 7-8
Why are the nations in an uproar?
Why do the peoples mutter empty threats?
ALL: Why do the kings of the earth rise up in revolt,
and the princes plot together,
against the LORD and against the Anointed?
"Let us break their yoke," they say;
"let us cast off their bonds from us."
ALL: Let me announce the decree of the LORD:
he said to me, "You are my child; this day have I begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance
and the ends of the earth for your possession.
Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
that we may walk the paths of the Most High.
And we shall beat our swords into ploughshares,
and our spears into pruning hooks.
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation—
neither shall they learn war any more.
And none shall be afraid,
for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.
Jewish Prayer for Peace
Exodus 24.15-18 (Amp Bible)
Then Moses went up into the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. [Divine glory] rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day God called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the [divine glory] appeared to the Israelites like devouring fire on the top of the mountain. Moses entered into the midst of the cloud and went up the mountain, and Moses was on the mountain forty days and nights.
Matthew 17.1-9 (JB Phillips NT)
1-3 Six days later Jesus chose Peter, James and his brother John, to accompany him high up on the hill-side where they were quite alone. There his whole appearance changed before their eyes, his face shining like the sun and his clothes as white as light. Then Moses and Elijah were seen talking to Jesus. 4 “[Teacher],” exclaimed Peter, “it is wonderful for us to be here! If you like I could put up three shelters, one each for you and Moses and Elijah——” 5 But while he was still talking a bright cloud overshadowed them and a voice came out of the cloud: “This is my dearly loved [chosen one] in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” 6-7 When they heard this voice the disciples fell on their faces, overcome with fear. Then Jesus came up to them and touched them. 8 “Get up and don’t be frightened,” he said. And as they raised their eyes there was no one to be seen but Jesus himself.
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral
Click on the audio bar below to hear the recording. Text follows.
Cloudy with a Chance of Peace
In our readings today clouds figure prominently. The Creator of the Universe makes an appearance in both of our readings in a nebulous, mysterious form speaking from a cloud. The clouds shroud mountaintop experiences and fill people with fear.
In both of our readings the events are happening on the 7th day. This is an echo of the Creation story in which God creates the world in six days and rests on the Sabbath. The use of the 7th day in our readings is a rhetorical device to denote that something new and wonderful is happening. It shows that what existed before is being transfigured, transformed.
We need these images of transformation in our world today more than ever. The inhumanity continues in Syria. Masked attackers with knives murder in China. Ukraine threatens to explode onto the world scene as Russia threatens. People are starving, workers need jobs, children are dying from the lack of clean water and simple antibiotics. Today more than ever we all need a mountaintop experience. We need to see the bright light of hope in a world that seems to be filled with darkness.
In both of our readings today fear plays a big role. The unknown makes us anxious and often fills us with fear and apprehension. We try to “freeze frame” what we perceive as good just as Peter did in the gospel lessons. He wanted to keep Jesus, Moses, and Elijah there on the mountain. He wanted to hang onto what he perceived as good without considering what was coming next.
Just as Moses and Jesus do in our readings today we often have to walk into the fear, walk in to the cloud in order to be changed. Walking into the unknown can be frightening. The only thing more frightening is refusing to step out on faith into the cloud of unknowing.
Transformation is messy business. It can be uncomfortable and destabilizing. We often want to change or be changed. We want things to improve for us. But when we’re asked to let go of something we sometimes want to hold on to the status quo. Holding on to what we know can block us from the good things that God has in store for us.
Walking into the unknown is not easy. But it is necessary if we want our lives to be changed. It is often not possible to know what is coming next when we let go of what we have now. When we have a death grip on the present we have no way to take hold of our future. Letting go of our fear, our expectations, and our assumptions is what allows transformation in our lives.
This week let us all be mindful of the opportunities for mountaintop experiences in our lives. May we all be willing to walk into the cloud of unknowing for the chance to have our lives transformed by God’s grace.
Download SL20140302 Music