Monday, February 28, 2011
Don't Miss The Trip - A Sermon on the last Sunday before Lent
Missing so much and so much?
O fat white woman whom nobody loves,
Why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
When the grass is soft as the breast of doves
And shivering sweet to the touch?
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves,
Missing so much and so much?"
Have you ever missed a trip? At one time or another we all do. But my question today is more far-reaching than that? Will you miss the trip? Max Lucado tells of sitting on a plane waiting to take off. He was in 14D. She was in 14E. She was obviously country with her velour pants suit. He was from the city—with his Brooks Brothers' suit and Johnson and Murphy’s. From her talk you could tell she was pretty cornpone. He was sophisticated, sitting there with his aluminum briefcase and laptop. He said he didn’t know how old she was—but she looked old.
It was obvious she had never been on a plane in all her life. “I don’t do this much,” she grinned, “Do you?” He nodded. She said, “Oh, that must be a lot of fun.” He groaned. It was going to be a long flight. Here he was in the middle of a hectic week; his plane was already late and overbooked. He had stood in a long line already. He had a slight toothache and didn’t get enough sleep. He just wanted to be left alone.
She looked out the window and squealed: “Ooooh—look at that big plane.” He just wished she would shut up. She volunteered that she was going to Dallas to see her boy. She said: “I hope he’s Ok. He had the flu last week. He’s got a new dog. A black Lab. I can’t wait to see it. The dog’s name is Skipper.”
As the plane climbed, she looked out the window. “Oooooh—look at the trees—they look just like peat moss.” People turned around in their seats and stared. The man next to her wanted to crawl under the seat. “What’s that river?” she asked. He nodded his head, “I have no idea.”
The flight attendant came by asking what they’d like to drink. He asked for a coke. She asked a second time about the choices. When her drink came she said she didn’t know that apple juice came in cans—but it was delicious. And when the sandwich came by she said, too loud: “Why there’s even mayonnaise in here.”
This went on the whole flight. She missed absolutely nothing. She opened the airline magazine in the pouch and oozed and ached. She turned the little overhead fan on. She adjusted the seat. She tried the light. She loved the lunch. He thought it tasted like cardboard. He said the man in front of them was discussing a business trip to Japan and dropping names like crazy. The fellow behind them kept ordering two beers at a time. The woman to his right had important-looking papers stacked all around her. And he opened his laptop and tried to work. It occurred to him that the only person on the whole plane enjoying the trip was the woman sitting next to him.
When the plane was on the ground, she turned and said: “Now wasn’t that a fun-un trip?” And as he watched her get her sacks and belongings, waddle down the aisle and leave the plane, it hit him. What was it that she had that he didn’t have? What was it that she knew that he didn’t know? Why had she enjoyed the whole trip from beginning to end while he was miserable?
In Matthew 17 Jesus took three disciples up to the top of a mountain. It was midpoint in Jesus’ journey. The clouds were hanging low over his ministry. The Pharisees and Saducees were making it hard. His disciples bickered continually. And he began to talk to them about suffering and Jerusalem and the cross. He talked about saving your life by losing it. And so Jesus took the leaders of the disciple band, Peter, James and John. He took them up to the top of Mount Hermon which was about 9,100 feet high. And there on the mountaintop something happened. We’re not sure what occurred. But they called it transfiguration, which meant change or metamorphosis. Moses and Elijah appeared. Jesus’ face shone in a way they had never seen it. His garments glistered and it hurt their eyes. And God spoke, saying, as he did at baptism: “This is my beloved son…Do not be afraid.” It turned them inside out. It changed their lives. They were never quite the same ever again. Simon Peter wanted to stay there forever. Let’s building three temples and just stay, he said. But Jesus wouldn’t stay. The vision faded. Moses and Elijah left as quickly as they came. And Jesus and the three disciples made the winding trip back down the mountain.
Jesus called it a vision in verse nine. Scholars would call it a theophany—a visitation from God. And the disciples would tell it over and over again. That day, that special day when God came down and they beheld his glory. But maybe you’re wondering what does the story of the woman and man on the plane and the Transfiguration story has in common? Everything.