Sunday, February 15, 2015

Transfiguration Happen Everyday

The Lord be with you.

I thank Pastor Tess for sharing the pulpit with me and bring to you God’s good news. Recently puro, bad news ang nababasa natin at puro bad news din ang sinasabi ko sa mga patients ko. So, I am happy to share God’s good news today.

Let me share a story. I recently told a patient she has hypertension. She cried after I told her that. I asked what made her sad? She replied, she will probably die of heart attack or stroke in a few years time. I told her, she can reduce the risk if she would change her lifestyle. I told her if she would avoid eating lechon, kare kare, stop eating too junk foods, burgers and fries, avoid softdrinks, stop partying at night, sleep early and exercise regularly she would decrease the risk. She cried even further. She was only seeing the disease. She only sees superficially.

Let us pray. Lord, bless the people here today that they may only see and hear your word, use your humble servant and cover me with your spirit that only your glory will be seen and magnified. Amen.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday and our Gospel story tells us about this event.

A week ago, Jesus was talking to the disciples about his coming suffering, crucifixion and resurrection. The disciples were scared at what they heard. They criticize Jesus for speaking about death. They only understood the superficial meaning of the sufferings Jesus will experience. Maybe they were scared for Jesus. Imagine your friend talking about the pain, humiliation, struggles and even death that he will experience.

Even though the disciples has been with Jesus for the longest time, and have witnessed the miracles of Jesus, how he healed the sick, how he fed thousands, how he commanded the wind and rain to stop, they only saw a Jesus as a mortal being prone to suffering and pain.

How long have you been Christians? I have been a Christian since I can remember. I know of Jesus from Sunday School. Every CI I receive Jesus in my heart. Just to be sure. Yet, everyday in the clinic and in the hospital, I only see things as they are. I only see sickness, suffering and pain as they are. And for many of us Christians, we just see things as they appear to us. Look at the person beside you. He is just a friend. Look at the other person across the pew, just any other church member. Every Sunday, we just see the worship service as a time to sing songs and recite your prayer requests. We often do that. Yes, we see Jesus but only superficially.

Now, everything changed for the disciples when they saw beyond the superficial. This is especially true for Peter, James and John in their transfiguration experience.  An experience when they had a glimpse of God’s glory.

We need to learn to see beyond the superficial to be able to see the glory of God, even if it is just a glimpse. Let us continue our story and journey with the Disciples and learn from them, how they were able to see beyond the superficial. And have a glimpse into the glory of God. Three basic actions.

First, expect to see God.
Jesus invited Peter, James and John to climb up the mountain.  In the mountain, they saw God. The mountain has been symbolically the place where we meet the divine. I do not tell you to climb mountains although that is a good spiritual exercise that I will encourage you to do. But climb mountains everyday. Be intentional in meeting God out of the ordinary. In everyday people you engage with. In everyday activities that you do. In every place that you go. You can meet God there.
For example, when you go to church on Sundays. Do you expect to see God out of the ordinary things we do here in church? Or do you expect to sing hymns only? Do you expect that the words that comes from your mouth will be heard by God? Or when we light the candles as we begin the worship service? Do you just see a candle being lit? Or do you expect to feel the presence of Jesus symbolized in the light? Or when we give offerings? Are you intentional in allowing God to use these resources for his work or do you see money subtracted from your budget? Do you expect to see Jesus in the fellowship of your fellow Christians? Do you expect to see the image of God in the other person beside you? Hindi ko naman kilala yan eh. If you do not climb the mountain - if you are not intentional in finding time to meet God, it will be difficult to see God’s glory in ordinary things. Peter, James and John found time and were intentional when they climb the mountain that they will commune with God. Climb the mountain.

Let us continue our story. The disciples are now ready to see God. They prayed. So they closed their eyes and fell asleep. How many of you are falling asleep when you are praying? Paminsan nga kahit sa sermon, natutulog. Tignan mo yung katabi mo, kung nakapikit ang mata, wag mo distorbohin, nagdarasal lang yan.

In the Gospel of Luke, while the disciples were in the mountain praying, they were sleepy. Their eyes were closed or maybe half closed. The disciples had to open their eyes wide to see the transfiguration.

Open your eyes. That is the second principle.

Luke noted that Peter, James and John were very sleepy at that time but when they opened their eyes and became fully awake, they saw the glory of God. We need to open our eyes to see God’s glory out of the ordinary. We will only see the physical being of Jesus if we are sleep and half awake.
By opening our eyes, I do not simply mean that idilat mo ang iyong mga mata. Ako, dilat na dilat ang mga mata ko but sometimes I still do not see clearly. More than the physical eyes, we must see with the eyes of our hearts and our soul. That is the message of the song “Open the eyes of my heart” by Michael Smith. “Open the eyes of my heart… I want to see you… High and lifted up… Shining in the light of your glory”

When the disciples opened their eyes, the eyes of their hearts and soul, they saw a bright light shining from Jesus. God’s glory was revealed to them. If we open the eyes of our heart, if we are fully awake we can see God’s glory beyond the ordinary. They saw that Jesus was not just any other prophet or teacher, they saw he was divine.  They saw God’s glory.

Now I have to explain that the transfiguration of Jesus did not mean Jesus was transformed from ordinary to divine. No. when the disciples opened their eyes, they saw Jesus beyond the ordinary, and saw who Jesus really is and has been all along.

Since yesterday was Valentines, let use the example of your best friend na babae. Dati you saw her only as a friend, but you have that transfiguration moment, she was not just your ordinary friend, she was the love of your life na pala.

Their view of the ordinary was transfigured. It was transformed. We can see God’s glory in everyday people we meet. We can see God’s glory in ordinary events in our lives. We can see God’s glory out of the sufferings we endure. We can see glory in everyday of our lives.

Speaking of Valentines Day. It was a day to celebrate love. But what kind of love did you celebrate? Did you celebrate your love for your husband and wife? Did you see God’s love in that? Where does the love come from in the first place? The love that you received from your parents? Or relatives? Where does that come from? The love that you give to your friends? Is that kind of love the love of God? What does it mean then for us Christians to confess that God is love if your love is not the glorious presence of God in your relationships?

Open your eyes to see God’s glory in the ordinary. Open your eyes to see God’s glory in ordinary relationships between husband and wife, parents and child, among friends and even with a stranger. Lagi ba kayong nag-aaway ng asawa mo? When you forgive your spouse and confess your shortcomings to God, do you not see the glory of God? Even among strangers, when you see boy respectfully giving his seat to the elderly in a full bus, do you not see the glory of God? When you go in the hospital and see a newborn baby cuddled by a mother, do you not see the glory of God? When you see a stranger, worshipping with us for the first time, do you not see the glory of God? Open the eyes of your heart and soul to see God’s glory in the ordinary.

The third action from the disciples is going down the mountain.

Going down the mountain means moving beyond the moment. After Peter, James and John saw the transfiguration of Jesus, they wanted to bask in the moment. They were awe struck and that was understandable. If you experience the most wonderful thing, you don’t want to let it go. Maybe that is why Peter suggested that they build altars there. He wanted to enjoy the experience and stay in that moment. He wanted it to last forever.

Just like many of us, we enjoy having wonderful experiences. I remember as a student, I had those wonderful moments after receiving grades from exams. Pagkatapos mong maghirap mag-aral at magpuyat, you will receive the passing score and your grade for the semester. You enjoy that moment. You want it to last. Sometimes, you want it to be your last. Ayaw mo na. Kaya hindi ka na papasok sa next semester. What you do after the glorious moment will spell the difference. So for most of us, after that glorious moment, you have to go down from the mountaintop experience.

The disciples just did that. They had a glorious experience and wanted it to last. But like any wonderful moment, it had to come to an end. They had to go back down and continue the ministry work. And when their faith was being tested, they used that moment to strengthen them during the difficult time when Jesus was arrested, crucified until he resurrected.

You don’t have to hold on to that singular glorious moment. My dear brothers and sisters, the good news is that we can glimpse of the glory of Jesus anytime, anywhere. For God is always with us and around us. We can have a transfiguration experience and catch a glimpse of God’s glory everyday. Those little glimpses of God’s glory will assure us that God is always around us. That God is in control of everything. 

You can choose to live in that glorious moment or use that moment to find hope in times of struggles. You can choose to make that glorious moment help you carry through difficult times knowing that Jesus who is both human and divine had to suffer and be crucified like what we experience in this life. But just as Jesus overcome death, we know we will also triumph.  
Allow god to transform our minds.

Climb. Open your eyes. Go down.

So my dear brothers and sisters, find and see the transfigured Christ in the ordinary things in our life and experience the glory of God. What you do after the transfiguration experience is up to you.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love and Relationships

Valentines Day is always a season to talk about love, especially about relationships with other people. But as Christians, we tend to be swallowed by the popular culture understanding of romantic love. We hear pick-up lines that exemplify this distorted understanding of love. As Christians, we need to recapture true love based on Biblical truth. 

Listen as I preach on Love and Relationships and the perfect pick-up lines that mirror our Christian understanding. 

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Valentines Day

Today is Valentines Day.

I don't usually give flowers to my wife on Valentine's Day but today I felt it is only right to give a bouquet to my lovely wife to show my love to her. I was thinking how she will feel and respond to my acts of love.

I wonder how God also thinks of our reactions to God's act of love? Everyday, we receive showers of blessings from our loving Provider. The hugs and affection from family and friends are acts of love from the Source of love. Yet, we often fail to see that.

This Valentine's Day, let us not look for love. God gives it to us everyday without fail. God brings us flowers everyday to show God's unconditional love. Only, the flowers we receive comes in different shapes and forms.