Sent for Serving
Topic: Biblical Verse: Mark 9:2–9:9
The Festival of the Transfiguration
February 18-19, 2012
“Being SJLC: Sent for Serving”
Our Epiphany focus of Being SJLC (Serving Jesus – Living in Community) comes to a close today on this final Sunday of the Epiphany season, the festival of the Transfiguration. In heart and mind, we travel to the mountaintop with Peter, James, and John, and there view Jesus’s heavenly glory for a fleeting moment. Jesus is flanked by those towering figures of the Old Testament representing the Law and the Prophets, Moses and Elijah, who appear with him and are talking with him. Like Peter, our tendency is to enshrine the moment and hold on to it there on the mountaintop. But it is not to be. We must follow the Lord Jesus down from the mountain back into the valley of daily life where He calls us to serve in his Name. We are sent for serving, and that is the theme for the message on this Transfiguration Sunday: “Being SJLC: Sent for Serving.” May the Lord’s rich and abundant blessing rest upon the preaching, the hearing, and the living of his Word, for Jesus’ sake.
We began this whole series of Being SJLC on the Baptism of Our Lord, about six weeks ago. We began with the truth that we are baptized into all that Jesus has done for us through his life of ministry, his suffering, death, and resurrection, we are baptized into serving in Jesus’ Name. We learned that our serving takes on many different forms: congregationally, here in the fellowship of Christ’s people; locally, outside in the community where we live; and globally in the world which our Lord loves and for which He gave his life. The voice of the Father, heard at Jesus’ baptism and proclaiming him as God’s beloved Son, is heard again today: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). Our serving is only as good as our listening. Unless we are continually listening to the Lord Jesus and his voice that speaks to us in Word and Sacrament, our serving will be more about us than about Jesus. Our pride, our need to control, our personal agenda – all of these things can and do get in the way of serving in Jesus’ Name. Unless we are continually listening to Jesus and his voice, we will be focused on ourselves and our needs, rather than the needs of those around us. And the primary need of those around us is for them also to be able to hear the voice of Jesus. Through our words and actions in serving, it must be the voice of Jesus that speaks to them through us. Being sent for serving is grounded in listening to Jesus. There on the mountaintop, when that brief moment of Jesus’ transfiguration had passed, we are told about Peter, James, and John: “And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only” (Mark 9:8). And that’s how it should be with us in our serving: we fade away so that those whom we serve see only Jesus; their eyes are focused not on us who are but dust and ashes, but upon the beauty of our transfigured Lord.
Our serving – congregationally, locally, globally – is a response to Jesus’s amazing love that moved him to serve us and to offer his very life as the atoning sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. The truth is, whatever serving we do pales in comparison to all the serving Jesus has done for us. Jesus came down the mountaintop of his transfiguration only to climb another: Mount Calvary, where He would suffer and die for us. Peter, James, and John did not understand this at the time, and this is why we are told: “And as they were coming down the mountain, [Jesus] charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9). Only after Jesus had risen from the dead would all of this be made clear, and only then – with the power of the promised Holy Spirit that was poured out upon the disciples at Pentecost – would they be able to understand and share all that Jesus had done for them and for us. During Being SJLC, our small group huddles have been reading through the book, Crazy Love, which challenges believers to move beyond complacency and seeing faith as a list of do’s and don’ts. Instead, the author points out how God calls us to a passionate love relationship that moves us to serve others in new and surprising ways. I know many of you have been struggling with some things in this book; wondering if we’re lukewarm believers who are serving the leftovers of our lives to a holy God. I’ve been struggling with this also, and have found the book very convicting. The truth is, we all fall short of God’s expectations for us, and we all are guilty of being lukewarm believers. That is truth according to God’s own Word. But there is a greater truth: the good news that Jesus came to live that perfect and sinless life for us. He came to do what we could not do this ourselves. He exchanged his righteousness and perfection for our sin and imperfection, and “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). That is the good news that lifts us up and sends us out to serve! That is the good news that is at the heart and soul of our serving!
Last October, we brought our commitment cards for financial support of God’s mission to the altar around the theme “Rivers of Giving,” reflected in the one image of Being SJLC. Today, we will bring our commitment cards for service on the congregational level, on the local or community level, and on the global level here to the altar. Moved by all that God in Christ has done for us, we want to recommit not just our financial offerings, but our whole lives to service in Jesus’ Name. God would use each one of us to be rivers of giving in his Name through serving. The yellow service commitment cards are available for you now from the ushers. Please take a moment to prayerfully consider your serving. One card per person is ideal, but if you want to do your card as a family, that’s fine. After prayer, you are invited to come forward and place your card in the basket on the altar. May our transfigured Lord Jesus Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, and to offer his life as a ransom for us all (Mark 10:45), be honored and glorified through this as we are sent in his Name for serving.
Almighty God, draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills, so that we may be wholly yours. As your beloved Son, Jesus, was sent into the world for serving, so in response to your great love help, strengthen, and bless the serving we do in his Name. Use us as you will, always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our transfigured Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.