O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Are you coming to the Pep Rally?
"Are you coming to the Pep Rally?"
Based on Mark 9:2-9
February 19, 2012
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Fellow baptized saints, are you coming to the Pep rally? (pause) This may be a question that you have heard recently, perhaps even in the last six months, for just last year, when the Bluebombers were headed to the Grey Cup, they held a huge pep rally leading up to the game. There they were surrounded by the faithful - the "true blue" fans. The fans were cheering and singing, people were shouting spirited speeches, and the players were getting pumped up before the battle that lay ahead. For that is why we hold pep rallies - we hold them to bring encouragement and support to all of the stakeholders. To lift the spirits of the players and coaches and fans. And the pep rally is incredibly important, because that spirit has to stay up through to the end of the fight - the energy has to last until the victory is accomplished.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. It is Pep Rally Day. It is the last triumphant Sunday of Epiphany, before we start to face the six-week battle of Lent. Are you coming to the Pep Rally? Christ has taken us up on the mountain peak, before He brings us down onto the low battle plains that lead to Jerusalem. Today, Christ is preparing for a really tough battle - for His final battle. And the preparations are complete. He has rallied His most faithful fans around Him to bring Him encouragement and support. The true blue fans are on parade. Moses - Elijah. Christ stands on the mountaintop with the support of the entire Old Testament. Moses representing the Law, and Elijah representing the Prophets. He had revealed Himself to both of these men on Mount Sinai, even overshadowed them with a cloud when He spoke to them - but now He is standing on the mountain with them in the flesh. Now His human face shines with the full glory of His eternal majesty - not a reflection like that of Moses, which would fade over time - but the very source of all light, hidden for so long, but now revealed in the Christ, the Son of God.
And what is it that strengthens and emboldens Christ the most? What is it that gives Him motivation and support and encouragement? It is His Word. It is the promise He spoke to His people of old. Christ called Moses and Elijah to His side to recite all of the things He had already said to them. When Christ hears His saints remind Him of His promises, He gets pumped up. He is emboldened to action. He is focused on His mission to fulfill His Word and save His people. And we Christians today would do well to keep this in mind for our prayer lives, for Christ wants to hear us repeat His promises back to Him. It pumps Him up and moves Him into action.
Now we said before that the timing of the pep rally is incredibly important, because spirits have to stay up until the victory is accomplished. But I don't think Peter got the memo. Peter wants to set up tents and stay for awhile. He is like the one guy at the pep rally that doesn't realize he is at a pep rally. The band is playing, the fans are cheering and the team is about to run out onto the field, and Peter shouts out, "Let's all stay here together." And don't you love how the Scriptures describes his interruption - that Peter - He didn't know what he was talking about.
Thankfully our heavenly Father kept the pep rally going. He maintained the momentum. He overshadowed them all in a cloud and gave His Son His vote of confidence. "This is my beloved Son; listen to Him." He is going to fulfill my will.
And Christ felt that encouragement. He was shining brighter than the sun. It was like He was flexing His muscles - like a boxer who is about to enter the ring. It was like He was saying, "See, this is who I really am - I'm going to win, it will be a tough battle - you may even think I have lost - but take a good look at who I really am. I am going to be victorious. He was about to face temptation. He was about to suffer. To hurt. To be abandoned by His Father on the cross. But He was ready. He was focused. He was looking through the suffering, through the torture, through the mockery and all that He would endure to the victory that would be His death on the cross - a victory that would be yours as well. Jesus was getting pumped up to die - for you.
Now as much as we can speak about Christ's preparations for His passion, today Christ is holding a pep rally for us too. He is preparing us for a tough battle that we will wage with ourselves this Lent. With our sin and with our enemy the Evil One. Christ has rallied us together to encourage us, to show us He is rooting for us - that He supports us in our fight against sin. He flexes for us. That we may know His almighty power is with us everyday. That we may rely on His strength in this fight instead of our own.
And what is it that strengthens and emboldens us Christians the most? What is it that gives us motivation and support and encouragement? It is His sure and precious promises. It is the reality that God has given us His Word - one He will never break. Christ has come to your side today to remind you of all of the things He has already said. To pump you up and move you to action. For this is the ultimate promise that He has made to you. "You are my beloved Son." The very same word the Father spoke to His Son on the mountaintop that day, He has spoken to you at the font in your baptism. You have been transfigured in Christ, made into a Son of God. Within you dwells the eternal glory of the Most High God. It is hidden in you, just as it was hidden in Christ, and it waits to be revealed on the last day. God has made you His home, and He wants to shine forth from within you. He wants to show Himself to the world by the way you treat others, and the way you treat your brothers and sisters here at Beautiful Savior. Flex your muscles and show the world who you really are - baptized into Christ - a true child of God.
When the pep rally was over the disciples looked up and there was just Jesus. His appearance had returned to normal, and He looked like everyone else. Now you may not appear to be any different than anyone else in this city. But you are. Not because of what you have done, or what you're worth. But because God made you His home in baptism - because the Son of God is hidden in you, shining into the lives of those around you. Christ is leading us down the mountain now, out onto the battlefield. Let us draw ever near to Him as He fights for us this Lent. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr