Inescapable Change 2 Peter 1:16-21
Transfiguration February 19, 2023, St. John, New Orleans
When seeing a child for the first time in a while, which has grown considerably since they were last seen,
the older person might say, “look how much you've grown! I think we should tie a brick to your head so you can stay little.”
When heard this as I was young and growing fast, I thought it was corny when my grandparents said it.
But now lately, I've caught myself saying it to my own grandchildren.
We are especially sad to see kids grow up
because as we grow older, life only gets more difficult.
And most of those difficulties have to do with changes we must endure.
And we would like to think that we could help our little ones escape these changes by helping them to stay young longer.
Aging is the perfect example of an inescapable change.
We grow from baby to adulthood. And then slowly deteriorate until death overtakes us.
Our bodies and minds, when young and new, are quickly repaired, flexible and very easily strengthened.
But as we age, one by one, things start to wear out and break down.
But there are other inescapable changes we share.
Weather change are inflicted upon everyone in a specific area.
After an election, we all must deal with the change that comes from new leadership.
And in a few weeks we will all lose one hour As we move to daylight savings time.
But perhaps there are other changes that are peculiar to you, yet are still Inescapable?
Maybe your marriage ended by the death of your spouse, Or even divorce, And you now must live life alone again.
Maybe you have had a diagnosis or some sort of health scare that has changed your life?
Perhaps you were laid off from your job through no fault of your own.
I think it's plain to see that there really are changes in life that are inescapable.
And yet, it seems we are always trying to control change, whether it is good or bad.
When change is bad, we simply seek ways to, “manage it,” as if it responded to certain rules, policies, and incentives.
When we seek positive change, we look for people who are good at convincing others to change.
We call them, “change agents,”
and they get paid handsomely to get the desired resulting changes accomplished.
And yet, whether it is good or bad change, it's usually uncomfortable
because it's new, different, untested, and uncertain.
And that's why change is almost universally resisted.
All three texts today inform us that, unlike us, God is in complete control of change especially when it is for our benefit.
In the Old Testament lesson, God changed the appearance of the place where he communed with Moses and the elders.
He did so not only to give them a foretaste of the feast to come in heaven,
but to show them he was who he said he was.
He was not just some ghost or apparition,
not even an impostor human, posing as God
but the creator of heaven and Earth
who made all things and would remake them as he chose,
whenever he desired.
In the Gospel, it was Jesus who changed himself.
Proving he was indeed the son of God, even God himself
who had The power to reveal A portion Of his divine nature to his disciples.
And even to summon Moses and Elijah from the dead to be Character witnesses To Peter, James, and John.
And in the epistle, because all prophecy And Scripture come from God, it is always consistent.
In this case, this means there is no change in his message to humanity.
Rather, it is humanity which encounters Inescapable change.
First, the authors of scripture themselves, as the Holy Spirit leads them to Write the words of God,
And secondly, those who hear that scripture and through it are bestowed with the gift of faith.
And it is this last part which is especially for us.
By Scripture alone, our hearts are changed so that we might Be born again in the Holy Spirit.
Peter calls this a, “morning star rising in your hearts,”
a new light To dispose Of darkness And to lead you to God himself.
Have you ever thought of your faith in terms of inescapable change, let alone seeking it out?
That is precisely what comes our way.
From Sinner to forgiven St.
Hell bound to heaven sent.
Looking for answers to finding them in scripture.
Working hard to leave your mark, to working hard to be sure the nails of the cross have left their mark on others as you tell them about Jesus.
That is a whole lot of change. Change You might not be all that excited about, especially the change that others will notice.
So much of our lives are in turmoil, upheaval, and disarray, that if there was one place we would expect stability, it might be church.
God himself says he never changes, and our worship is largely unchanged for the last 500 years.
And yet, Scripture says over and over again that because God is changeless, it is we who are changed when we trust in him.
One needs only to look to the examples of other believers in both the old and New Testaments to see that a relationship with God means a change for the people, not God.
Noah had to build an ark to be saved from the flood God wrought.
Abraham moved from Mesopotamia to Canaan at God's calling.
Moses left a life of luxury in Pharaoh's court to lead his people out of Egypt.
David lost his first-born son after he admitted to God he was born out of an adulterous. Relationship involving the murder of the mother's husband.
Jonah was swallowed by a fish for three days while he reconsidered God's calling.
Job lost everything to the devil as a result of his faith.
And all the apostles save John were martyred because they preached the good news about Jesus.
So, despite the peril, today I'm inviting you to embrace the inescapable change that comes from faith in the Trinity.
And the first reason should be the communion that we share with God by faith.
I would love to have been with Moses and the elders when the ground turned to sapphire,
or met him and Elijah with Jesus and the disciples in person.
But the fact is, Jesus tells us we have that in the sacrament of the altar, even if we don't sense it with our physical faculties.
Secondly, we are changed as far as our eternal life is concerned.
For we will not spend eternity being punished for our sins, crying out in pain, agony, and loneliness,
but rather, Jesus has already paid the price, so, our eternity will be with him,
giving God glory and praise, and united with all the others who have gone before us and died in faith.
But most importantly for our neighbor, we are changed for the better in this life.
We seek to follow God's will and ways which are always demonstrative of our love for him and others.
Because he forgives us, we freely forgive others who sin against us, demonstrating God's grace to the world.
And finally, just as God gave his most precious son to save us,
we are generous in every way we live.
Both toward God, and as toward humanity as well.
These are just some of the changes that you can expect as you grow in faith
as you explore and encounter God in Scripture,
and as you are fed and nourished by the sacrament.
As God's people gathered as his church, we too have been changed for good!
If someone were to ask you, “what good does Saint John do?” You should be able to easily answer that question.
Some answers are obvious.
We deliver word and sacrament to God's people through worship each week,
and we share Jesus along with a good education through our school.
Some others might be less obvious.
Like, we keep our property looking good so that our neighbors’ property values don't suffer,
or we offer community groups a place to meet when we rent out the facilities.
But I hope we can stretch ourselves even further by embracing even more change that God is sending our way.
As we try to figure out how we can bring good as well as the Good News to a post-Christian culture.
As we attempt to reach younger generations who have been told they don't need God, Jesus, church, or faith.
As we look around our city. And its brokenness and ask aloud,
“how can we become part of the solution to bring positive change and hope
to the disillusioned, the despairing, the disaffected, and those who just seemed to disappear from society?”
As we face change, let us not fear it.
Whether it is good or bad, From God or from somewhere else,
But, relying on God's unchanging nature and his underlying love for us,
let us trust in him to bring us through change.
Perhaps not unscathed, but certainly saved and perhaps even strengthened through the process.
In Jesus name, I ask it. Amen.