Thursday, February 12, 2015

Listen! - Sermon on Mark 9:2-9

                                                                    Mark 9:2-9

Six days later,
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. 

And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,[b] one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 

He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c]listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Seems an elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years.

He went to the Hearing Aids Specialist and the Specialist was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%.

The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the Specialist and the Specialist said, "Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again."
To which the gentleman said, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've changed my will three times!

Sometimes we pretend not to listen to something around us.

And sometimes we even turn off our hearing – and we don’t have to actually have a hearing aid with a switch to do this.  We just ignore someone or something.

I was talking with a sales person not long ago.  He worked with an alarm company and he said that for all the fire alarms he sold, his concern was that people no longer listened to them.  We hear so many alarms, we ignore them.

I’m guilty of this.

Not long ago I was at the airport, and there was fire alarm.  There were lights flashing, and a siren blaring, and an automated voice proclaimed, “A fire has been detected.  Please leave the building.”

No one left.  I looked around and thought – “the nearest exit is that airplane I want to get onto.  I’m not leaving this airport and missing my flight.”

Turned out that it was a false alarm. 

But we hear so many alarms all the time, we ignore them.

We don’t listen.

It is easy to ignore the constant noise of alarms.

Students in a boring class can turn off their hearing and stop listening to the teacher.

Husbands and wives hear one another, without listening.

Children don’t hear a word the parents say.

And don’t get me started about parishioners ignoring the preacher!

Here in our New Testament lesson the disciples are told to listen to Jesus. 

It is a dramatic moment. 

Jesus has taken his inner circle of disciples to a mountain.  They are alone.  It is, in many ways, a retreat.  Jesus and his apostles have been hard at work and this is a time for a spiritual rest and retreat.  Suddenly, Jesus is transfigured.  His body changes so that his face shines and glows and radiates.  Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus.  And even the voice of God almighty is heard, “This is my son, listen to him.”

Listen to him.

But we don’t listen.

Our lives are consumed by worry and anxiety.  Jesus says, “Don’t worry, your life is more important than the things you worry about.”

But we don’t listen.

Jesus says love your neighbor.

But we don’t listen.

Jesus says seek first the kingdom of heaven.

But we don’t listen.

Jesus says do not judge others.

But we don’t listen.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”

But so many of us don’t listen, and our lives are the poorer for it.

On August 15, 2007, a man died.  His body was discovered by police who investigated a foul odor coming from his run down apartment.  He died of poor health that had been aggravated by malnutrition.  Had he had the money, he would have been able to go to the doctor and he would have received health care and would have continued to live – perhaps for many years. 

But he died, because he didn’t have enough money for medical help.

He died and no one knew for a few days, because he was alone in life.

Now here is the strange thing.  It’s a puzzle.  When the police sorted through his one room apartment, they discovered that he was wealthy.  In his apartment were 430 bars of gold worth $1 million dollars, and a set of gold coins valued at over $18,000.  It turned out he had been an eccentric millionaire who had at one time, owned a drug store.

He had in his possession, the money and the knowledge needed to have improved his life.

He had all the resources, but he didn’t use them.

We have all the resources to save our lives and to enrich our lives, but we don’t use them.

God says, “This is my son, listen to him.”

When will we begin to listen?

In the Gospel of John there comes a moment when many of the followers of Christ turn their backs on Jesus.  It is a sad moment in the ministry of Jesus, and seeing the crowds depart, he turns to the Twelve Apostles and asks, “Will you leave me also?”

And it was Simon Peter who responded, “Lord, where would we go?  To whom would we turn?  Only you have the words of eternal life.”  (John 6:67-68)

Christ has the words.

We simply need to listen.

Copyright 2015. 
Dr. W. Maynard Pittendreigh
All rights reserved

Ministers may feel free to use some or all of this sermon in their own ministries as long as they do not publish in print or on the Internet without ascribing credit to the author.