The Power of God

Scripture: Matthew 17:1-9 and Exodus 24:12-18
Title: “The Power of God”
Preached: Pioneer/FPC – 2/26/17

As I have shared previously, I have been working on my downstairs finishing our basement.  This is quite an undertaking.  I am at the point of putting in the electrical wiring.  I am very cautious when it comes to electricity.  In fact, nothing probably scares me more than working with electrical current because electricity can seriously damage or kill an individual.  Unlike the movies or comic books where someone receives superhuman strength when exposed to extreme electricity, even the amount of electricity in a common household socket can cause serious damage. And if wiring is done improperly, it can also cause fires.

My father taught me to respect electricity. My father never wore a wedding ring because he remembered watching his father receive an electrical shock when his ring crossed an electrical circuit.  Also, growing up on a farm, rings were dangerous items to wear when working around heavy machinery.  These lessons made an impression on me so when it comes to working with electricity, I am extremely cautious.  I make extra particular to turn off the circuit breakers and test for electrical current.  I also don’t extend beyond my area of understanding.  There are some things that it is best to hire a professional electrician for.

Today’s passage is the Transfiguration where Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain and they witnessed Jesus transformed or transfigured before them.  The word in Greek is metamorphothae where we get the word metamorphosis.  He was transformed before their eyes.  It says that his face shone like the sun and his clothes became dazzling white.  And suddenly there appeared before them Elijah and Moses talking to them.  If that wasn’t impressive enough, a bright cloud enveloped them and a voice came from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”

After hearing this voice, it says that Peter, James, and John fell to the ground in fear.  This seems like a rational choice given what they had seen.  Often in the Bible, when humans come into contact with the raw power of God, they natural response is one of awe and fear.  The first words uttered by angels are “Do not be afraid.” To be exposed to the raw power of God, his holiness, is an awe inspiring and fearful venture.  We come into contact with how powerful and dangerous that power can truly be.

Many of us might pray for a miracle, but be careful what you pray for.  If we were to witness the kind of power that Peter, James, and John witnessed, we too would react the same way.  The power of God is awe inspiring and something to be respected.  Remember when Elijah appeared was met by the Lord, he was told to avert his eyes because as humans, one cannot gaze upon the holiness of God and live.  And Moses, when the cloud of God would descend upon him and he would converse with God, it was reported that his face would radiate from the experience.  To be in the raw presence and holiness of God is a powerful experience.

I have never witnessed a miraculous healing for myself.  A friend of mine took a group of teenagers to a faith healing service at Melodyland which is right across the street from Disneyland.  These were typical Presbyterian kids.  My friend said that he and these teenagers witnessed before them in the row ahead of them, a man’s crippled mangled hand being miraculously transformed or transfigured back to normal.  My friend and his students couldn’t believe their eyes.  They were speechless except for one kid who uttered, “Wooeee!”

Now, I have never experienced this kind of supernatural miracle and not having been there myself, I cannot for a fact say it happened or not.  However, I have experienced the peace of God.  I have felt his power, peace, and love in a very real way at work in my life.  Because we have not witnessed supernatural miracles doesn’t mean that we don’t experience the very real power of God in our own lives for ourselves.

In fact the most typical way that we experience the miracle and power of God is in more normal means.  And this is how God has chosen to most often act in our lives, not through miracles and signs, but through the power and love of God displayed within each of us.  In our faith and belief.  In our prayers for one another and our loving actions towards others.  This is where we are most often witness the power of God.

Transformation is the buzz word around churches and ministries these days.  How can we be transformational in our homes and in our lives?  How can we be a transformational church?  How can we bring about that incredible change in our lives and in the lives of others?  We hunger to be different?  But the reality is that God normally chooses to act within the normality of our lives.

Take electricity.  When it is produced at the production plant, a coal burning or a hydroelectric plant, it is produced at an incredibly dangerous level.  To come directly into contact with this raw power would kill instantly.  This power is then sent out across lines to communities and to electrical sub-stations where transformers decrease the power.  However, the power is still too raw and dangerous for our houses.  It is further distributed and sent to local transformers to lessen the power even more which is further lessened when it comes to our houses and electrical panels, circuit breakers, and wiring in order to safely power our household items.  If we were to put the raw power of the power plant into our home, it would be too dangerous for us to handle.

In a similar fashion, we are recipients of God’s power.  The raw power of God is distributed to us through the transformers of God’s power: the Word of God preached and taught, the Holy Spirit at work in our midst, the sacraments, our prayers and in our worship.  We receive his power as we gather together to worship and study his word.  Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am also.”  Together, we experience the Risen and Transfigured Christ, and through Christ, the power of God.  We then become the conduits of God’s power into the world.  The power of Christ enters into us as we take that power into our homes, our work places, and our neighborhoods.

And what is this power of God:  It is love.  It is the love of God shared between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is the love Jesus shared to the world through his sacrifice upon the cross.  It is the grace and mercy we receive through that sacrifice.  It is the love we feel for one another and for that which God loves.  It is the love we share with one another.  This is the greatest power on earth and it is the power of God that radiates through us.  This is how God has chosen to power this world, through the love of Jesus Christ.

We might never have witnessed miraculous healing or been given a vision of Christ.  None of us has seen Christ walk on water nor have we touched the pierced hands and sides of Jesus, but his power still radiates through our lives.

As I was telling our confirmation students the other day.  We can’t see the electricity that flows through our walls.  We might not even understand how it all works, but we know it is there.  However, in order to turn on the lights, we have to flip the switch.  In order to see and experience the power of God, we too have to flip the switch of faith. And once we do, we are opened to a whole new world: a world of possibility, a world of light, life, and transformation.  So flip on the switch of God’s love in your life.  Flip it on in your households, in your work places, and in your neighborhoods.  And then we too will come down from God’s mountain together singing the praises of God as we have witnessed in our midst.  Amen.