The Astounded Crowd

The Astounded Crowd

Note: This series is based on resources from the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church.

This Sunday, we conclude a three-week Lectionary series that explores ideas of Discipleship and of expanding the church into the community. The Gospel text turns to the traditional story of the Transfiguration.

But as a congregation connected with The United Methodist Church, change and transformation may be particularly desired this day. This denomination has done spiritual violence to our LGBTQ siblings since inserting harmful language into the Book of Discipline in 1972, and has affirmed that language this week. This cannot stand, and so we seek transformation that is radical and inclusive and lasting.

Luke 9:28-43 (CEB)
Jesus transformed
28About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. 29As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. 30Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. 31They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus’ departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. 32Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him.

33As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it’s good that we’re here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—but he didn’t know what he was saying. 34Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe.

35Then a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!” 36Even as the voice spoke, Jesus was found alone. They were speechless and at the time told no one what they had seen.

Jesus heals a boy
37The next day, when Jesus, Peter, John, and James had come down from the mountain, a large crowd met Jesus. 38A man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to take a look at my son, my only child. 39Look, a spirit seizes him and, without any warning, he screams. It shakes him and causes him to foam at the mouth. It tortures him and rarely leaves him alone. 40I begged your disciples to throw it out, but they couldn’t.”

41Jesus answered, “You faithless and crooked generation, how long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.” 42While he was coming, the demon threw him down and shook him violently. Jesus spoke harshly to the unclean spirit, healed the child, and gave him back to his father. 43Everyone was overwhelmed by God’s greatness.

Consider these questions:

  1. How have we failed to be healers? How have we been a “faithless and crooked generation?”
  2. How can we live and love more like Jesus? How can we listen more faithfully to Jesus?
  3. How does Jesus’ transfiguration reflect possibilities for you as an individual to be transformed? For this PB congregation? For our larger denomination?

Post-Worship Update on 3/5

Audio from the sermon can be heard below, and video can be found at this link (will open in a new tab).

As we heard this past week from members of this congregation on the impact of this decision and also of this unique congregation on their lives of faith, I thought it would be good to share some additional perspective on what happened and where we might go from here. I submit these as further elements of information.

Official Response
We discussed the official response of this congregation to the General Conference decision. You can find it here (will open in a new tab).

Western Jurisdiction Response
The Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction responded in this video shortly after the General Conference acknowledging the harm done particularly to LGBTQ persons and committing to listening sessions to discuss the General Conference and explore the future of the Jurisdiction.

Pastor Adam Hamilton’s Town Hall at Resurrection
Adam Hamilton is a well known pastor and author. As a leader of the largest UMC in the United States and a prominent voice in the denomination, I thought it might be helpful to hear his thoughts.

Consider these questions:

  1. Were you able to read this Sermon Note before Sunday? Did it prepare you for the Worship experience? What did you expect in Worship, and were your expectations met? How was Worship different than what you expected?
  2. Do you believe there is support for our congregation from the larger administrative bodies within the denomination?
  3. How does your reading of scripture inform your understanding of inclusion and diversity? How well does this congregation fit your understanding?
  4. The sermon on Sunday ended with the assertion that we are on the way up the mountain so we can shine with the light of Jesus’ love. Does that fit your spiritual and emotional response to all that United Methodism has experienced this week?