Category: Religion

Collected Sermons
by Various as indicated

This collection includes a series with commentary or introduction by the webmaster, Richard R. Tryon

Sermon of Deacon Mary Lou Schlotterbeck

LUKE 9:28-36
AUGUST 5, 2001

An occasion to relate the history of St. Philip's Episcopal Church parish in Beulah, Michigan

As you probably have noticed, our Gospel today is on the “Transfiguration of our Lord, Jesus Christ”.

Even though tomorrow is the actual day of the Transfiguration we are celebrating it today.

We are also celebrating the life of Fr. Vic Lovett, a former priest here, with our “Sundae Sunday” (Vic hated potlucks, but he loved ice cream). I’m sure somewhere in heaven, he has an ice cream shop.

The Transfiguration also has significant meaning for me, as it the 7th Anniversary of my Ordination to the Deaconate.

So we have many different things that we are celebrating and giving thanks to God for today.

I believe that all these things, and more, go along with the Transfiguration as Moutain Top experiences for St. Philip’s.

And I will explain that a little later.

Jesus took Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain to show them who He really was- not just a great prophet, like some were saying, but God’s own Son.

The Transfiguration is one of the most significant passages in the Gospels.

Jesus’ life was seen by His disciples as a humble human life.

But in reality it was part of the divine plan which God had for the salvation of the world.

Jesus was indeed 'the Christ of God' (vs. 20) and would be ‘designated’ such by his resurrection from the dead.

What is the truth of the ‘Transfiguration’?

It is either not true at all, or it is in one sense truer than anything else in the story of Jesus’ earthly life: for it attempts to tell us what the real meaning of that life was.

Let’s look at the scene.

We know that Elijah and Moses are associated with the messiahship in Jewish belief and according to certain traditions both Elijah and Moses were ‘transfigured’. In Christ’s presence they too ‘appeared in glory’.

We also know of the association of Moses representing the Law and Elijah representing the prophets.

So what Disciples saw, was the true meaning of Jesus Himself. And this true meaning can be discerned only in the light of the resurrection, so the true meaning of the Law and the Prophets can be seen only there as well.

In order for the disciples to see the true Jesus, they had to see His life as no longer a normal, humble human life, but as a heavenly light and power. Thus, the Transfiguration.

The Transfiguration was not an illusion, but the truth.

Imagine, seeing this bright heavenly light and then Elijah, Jesus and Moses standing there, and realizing you just saw a glimpse of the real Jesus Christ.

Something new about Jesus is being revealed and they actually saw Him for the first time. Imagine the impact it had on the disciples. Imagine the impact it would have on us.

That’s what the disciples experienced on the mountain. A Jesus they had never seen before. Truly a mountain top experience.

Did they get it? Probably not. If you go back to Mark 9: vs 9 &10 ( which is another account of the Transfiguration), it looks like they didn’t get it. But then again, Jesus didn’t expect them to understand it right away. He just wanted them to keep it in mind. To remember it.

Let’s look at what Mark 9 says: As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what ‘rising from the dead’ meant.

They didn’t understand that phrase, so how could they tell people what they had seen and what it meant.?

They wanted to get it. But it was too much for them to understand, yet.

Luke tells us that Jesus went up on the mountain to pray.

He was praying about ‘His departure which He was to accomplish at Jerusalem’. In other words, if we go back a little in Luke to verse 22 it says, "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised". It is the same subject of His teachings.

Likewise, the final prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane, also in the presence of Peter, James and John, dealt with the same theme.

We can certainly understand that the approach of the Cruification would preoccupy Jesus’ thoughts in prayer. So to go to the mountain to pray was not unusual.

But to take Peter, James and John was unusual. Jesus usually prayed alone.

Obviously Jesus wanted them to see what was to take place. He wanted them to have a ‘mountain top’ experience so they could go and minister to others about the true meaning of Jesus Christ when the time was right.

Peter wanted to build 3 shelters. He wanted to keep this experience as long as possible. It was so beautiful and wonderful.

How many of us have had a mountain top experience? I’m sure most of us have had one and I’m also sure we didn’t want to leave. It is an experience that no one wants to let go of.

It is wonderful feeling of being a part of Jesus Christ. A feeling that you are finally getting to know Him.

Cursillo was a mountain top experience for some of us. The Emaus walk for others. The birth of a child or grandchild can be a mountain top experience.

Whatever causes us to look at our lives in a new perspective, whatever makes us feel great and want it to last forever is a mountain top experience. An experience that we feel Jesus Christ is with us all the way.

But there are problems with these mountain top experiences.

The problem is, they can keep us from returning to reality and the pressures of everyday life. Just knowing that struggles await us in the valley encourages us to stay on the mountain and not let go of this wonderful place we are in.

What happens if we stay? After all, Peter was going to build 3 shelters and stick around. Why can’t we stick around?

What happens if we don’t share our experience with others? How do we get the word out that Jesus is real?

Now you are probably remembering here that Peter, James and John were not to tell anyone about their experience. It wouldn’t make any sense at the time. It would not be understood until Jesus’ death. Jesus knew that.

But today, after the resurrection, our Mt. Top experience needs to be shared. If we stay on the mountain we cannot minister to others. We cannot show them what we have learned and felt from our experiences.

We all need retreats and renewals at times, but only, only, so we can return and use and share what we have learned, to minister in the world.

Our faith must make sense off the mountain as well as on the mountain.

Lets take a brief look at St. Philip’s history.

In 1958 some of our parishoners having had their mountain top experiences came off the mountain and started a little Episcopal Church.

They dug deep into their pockets and raised the impossible. Sound familiar? With the help of chicken dinners, bake sales, bazaars, and all kinds of fund raisers they obtained this property ( which was the place of the original Pet Ritz Pie Factory) they broke ground on May 6, 1959 with Jim Rogers as their general contractor. Jim and Mollie are still with us today and avid supporters.

Other disciples coming down from the mountain to help spread the good news of the real Jesus Christ and to help build a church are Les & Ilse Bair, Keith & Jean Carmien, Mabel & Dale Fick, Rich and Blanche Clark, Nancy Harris, Margery & Gene Rogers, Ray & Evelyn Anderson, the Egglestons. Ralph and Alice Hand, Dorothy Brooks. I am sure
many, many more that I am missing. All of these names most of us know and love. Some are still with us, some have gone on to their glory. They were on that mountain, they had to be to have come down and accomplished such a feat for Jesus.

Remember Mollie Rogers playing the organ? What about Jerry Eggleston feeding the then priest, Bay Tilden, cherry pie on every single one of his visits, until he finally had to tell her he couldn’t stand cherry pie.

Remember the Christmas Eve the power went out and the church was still and very dark. Then, very gently, Mollie Rogers started singing Silent Night. What a witness to our Lord.

The music for St. Philip’s goes way back as well. With Interlochen being a large part of our music.

The ìWard Massî written especially for St. Philip’s by Beverly Ward. The music for this mass came about to ease the transition to the new rite in the revised Book of Common Prayer. This music is now in use in many Episcopal churches across the country.

All of this took place and start a church, to show faith to this small community in our Episcopal tradition. Made possible because a few people had the love of Jesus in their hearts and decided to spread the good news.

We must not forget some of the priests that helped make St. Philip’s what it is today. John Evans, Bay Tilden, Stephen Winsett, Bill Lipscomb, Vic Lovett, George DeGraff, Damian Dollahite, Ian Schlotterbeck, Wally Draeger and our now beloved Skip Comer.

This is what coming down from the mountain accomplishes. This is what Jesus Christ had in mind. Don’t tell till the time is right, but when it is, go for it. 4 months after breaking ground they held their first service in this building.

On the mountain God clearly identified Jesus as His Son before saying that Peter and the others were to ìListen to Himî and not to their own desires. The ability to follow Jesus comes from confidence about who He is.

Finding out who Jesus is on the mountain gave Peter, James and John the confidence they needed to not only follow Jesus, but witness to Him, after his death.

How would you witness to what you experienced on the mountain?

Our St. Philip’s Patriarch’s and Matriarch’s built a church.

Silence may mean the mere absence of words; it may mean the presence of meanings to deep for words.

Words will come. Then action.

Sharing love, compassion and a desire to know Jesus Christ can be a starting point.

As a Deacon I am a witness to Jesus Christ. The one who bridges the gap between church and community.

All ministries are a witness to Jesus Christ.

Jesus is calling all of us down from the mountain to shout to the world who He really is.

We all do it in different ways with different gifts.

We are witnesses that mountain top experiences prove that Jesus Christ is real.




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