2/6/05 Mission Week/Transfiguration Sunday

They saw no one but Jesus only
Matthew 17: 1-9

oday is observed in most churches as “Transfiguration Sunday,” as it is here. However, we are adding an extra wrinkle by finding the missionary story in the midst of the vision of Jesus in his true glory. God was allowing three of Jesus' Apostles a brief glimpse of the very human man revealed in all of his divinity. It would affirm in their hearts everything that Jesus had said and was about to do. Peter, the leader of the Apostles, needed this experience tattooed onto his mind. In fact, even though he saw Jesus in “dazzling white,” he still denied knowing Jesus when he was in agony on the Cross. The brothers James and John were there too. They were good solid friends who would eventually be used by the Holy Spirit as some of the first missionaries, first to Jerusalem and then to Judea and to the Mediterranean world, and hopefully in our children's lifetimes, “the whole wide world.”

The two greatest prophets of Old Testament times were there on the mountain too– on loan from heaven. Moses brought the original Covenant to the people of Israel . He represented the old way that people could come to partially know about God through keeping the Law and the Commandments. Elijah represented the prophets to whom a more personal relationship with God would be ushered in with the eventual coming of the Messiah. As Sabbath School boys the three Apostles had learned that this revelation of Moses and Elijah meant that the Messianic Age was coming.

Then God the Father, the Almighty One who had flung the Stars in place and who had formed the earth, spoke in a voice from the cloud the words that affirmed Jesus as the Son of God, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. ‘ Hear Him !” (v. 5, NKJV)

The beginning point of our Missionary Message has not changed from the Transfiguration Appearance. Indeed, we all became a believers by listening to Him. When the Church has held high the message of Jesus, and faith in Him, persons have heard it, believed it, and had their lives changed. Wherever the message of salvation has been planted it has changed individuals, families, groups and societies to one attune to biblical principles. The missionary message resulted in the development of Western Civilization as we know it. As faithful missionaries followed their calling of preaching the Gospel and helping people to live better lives they also naturally gave an opportunity for freedom and democracy to blossom and grow. Our nation was founded by people who had values formed by the missionary methodology of first, “Listening to Him,” and then becoming like Him. Most towns in this rugged mission field, now called The United States of America, had churches before they had a courthouse, including Carrollton . The very first public building in what is now Atlanta was a Methodist Church with room for about twenty worshipers. As the Catholics, Baptists and Presbyterians came along they were invited to share the little building, which was also used as a school house during the week. It was just a natural process for them to establish civil order and then adopt a town name; first Terminus,  then Marthasville, finally, Atlanta- the feminine gender of the mythical city of Atlantis .

The results of this natural process of development, which we take for granted, was born out of the Gospel that gave people salvation, assurance and civility. Missions is basic to this church. There have been times when reaching out to others has been left on the back burner; but today, we have a reinvigorated missions outreach. We live out, speak out and hand out the Good News of Jesus Christ. We offer a hand out and a hand up. We have church members leading the boards, and nailing boards, for most of the charities of Carroll County . This church, which is actually its people, is a major force for good and for God in our great town. If you have been sitting on the bench you can get into the game this week. About a fourth of our total church operating budget goes out as funds for others. Our special Missions/Outreach Faith Commitment Offering will garner another thirty thousand dollars. Also, our special offering for United Methodist Charities through special offerings, such as The United Methodist Children's Home and Wesley Homes for Senior Citizens, are additional tangible ways that we make a difference.

Next Sunday, February 13, you will again be given the opportunity to make an extra mile Faith Commitment to our special Missions/Outreach Ministry. Your gift will assist in ministries locally, regionally, nationally and globally.

Our church is not a static, lifeless entity; rather, it is a vital and growing leader of churches in this Western Metropolitan expansion. As we continue to invite our friends, relatives, associates and neighbors to visit our church, we are actively doing our part for missions and evangelism. We remain focused when we keep our eyes on our goal.

There is another sentence in our Transfiguration Sunday text that speaks to just what the main thing is. God's voice told the Apostles to “Get up and not be afraid,” and then they looked up at God again in the cloud, and  “They saw no one but Jesus only.” (v. 8)

A vital part of our missions outreach is to focus our minds, plans and eyes upon Jesus. When we keep Jesus, and his calling, first then everything else finds its place. Vital faith in Jesus is the beginning point of our Gospel, and the center point all along the way. And then there will come a day when Jesus is all that matters as we face our final curtain and say, we did it, not our way, but His way.

You can be proud of your great church, and you can become a part of our missions outreach too.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
2/6/05 Mission Week/Transfiguration Sunday