As I read the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus I have the distinct impression that Jesus envisioned the church as being a “Lifeboat for Sinners” rather than a “Sailboat for Saints.” It is easy to slip into the habits of the latter. We breeze along, with our crew taking care of us, and occasionally look over the rails and make comments about the state of the world as we sail by. It's a lot more comfortable being on a sailboat than a lifeboat!
This is nothing new in the life of a disciple, but a tendency that is revealed in the conversations between Peter and Jesus on the day Jesus was transfigured upon a mountaintop. You may recall the story (Mark 9:2-9). Jesus takes three of His disciples on a hike up a mountain. When they reach the summit they are astonished by the presence of God that reveals Jesus having a conversation with two key figures of the Old Testament, Moses (who represented the law), and Elijah (who represented the prophets.) A voice is heard from the heavens; "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to Him!"
The initial reaction of Peter at the sight of this glorious vision is that he thinks they should stay upon the mountain. It was a comfortable place to be. Hanging out with Moses, Elijah and Jesus... it couldn't get better than that. He even suggests they put some tents (or booths) up so that other folk can make the trek up the mountain and visit with them. Then they could enjoy the view as well :-)
Yet as quickly as the moment came, it passed by. It was a fleeting glimpse of glory, not intended to become a permanent fixture. It was a moment in time that was preparing Jesus for the next phase of His ministry. They would descend from the mountain and Jesus would head to Jerusalem, to opposition and eventually crucifixion. This was His declared mission and it could never happen as long as He stayed upon the mountaintop.
It is an account that reminds us of the great commission we find in Mark 16:15; "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” Going out to where people are hurting is not an easy thing to do. Last Sunday saw the Superbowl and we had a message titled “We get knocked down (But we get up again)". God lifts us up so that we can carry on with the Kingdom business of serving others.
One of our members spoke last week of their experiences on a mission trip to Houston. It takes personal commitment and the support of a community to make such things happen. The next couple of weeks we will be receiving a special offering towards disaster relief.
This coming Sunday we also hope to have representatives from the Scouting movement with us. The Scouting movement was founded by Baden Powell who saw a need to do something about nurturing the lives of young people. Rather than stand by and complain about the things they could get up to, he took action to found a movement that harnessed their energy in a way that could build character and serve others. The Scout motto of “Be prepared” is far more applicable to a lifeboat than a sailboat!
I recall a preacher once beginning a service with the words, “Are you sitting comfortably?” He went on to say, “Well, maybe that's our problem!” If we desire to become faithful followers of Christ, we need to be aware that, like Peter, our desire for complacency can sometimes get the better of us.
For some music, a challenging message from Bobby Michael's 1988 album "Time"... "Anything That Costs Me Nothing."
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.