Have we got any Harry Potter fans here today?
I was in Year 6 when the first Harry Potter book came out, and I used to daydream about what it would be like if, instead of going to secondary school, a letter arrived one day by owl, and I went to Hogwarts instead. What would it be like to study Potions and Defence Against The Dark Arts, instead of English and Maths?
If you went to Hogwarts, what do you think would your favourite subject be?
Mine, I’ve always thought, would be Transfiguration. I love the idea of being able to change one thing into another. And I’ve been compared more than once to Professor McGonagall – make of that what you will!
So you can imagine my delight when I first came across this Bible story, which we call the Transfiguration.
Transfiguration – the act of changing something into something else. I wonder what we could turn these pipe cleaners into? Perhaps some of you would like to have a go while I speak.
In the story of the Transfiguration, Jesus is changed, not into something else – not, like Professor McGonagall, into a tabby cat – but into a fuller and more glorious version of himself. “Changed from glory into glory”, as we sometimes sing.
Peter, James and John see Jesus “shining like the sun”, reflecting the light of God within him. And we are called to do likewise – to “shine as lights in the world to the glory of God the Father”, as we say in the baptism service. That is the special job, the vocation, which God gives each of us at our baptism – to live in ways show the world what God is like.
We begin that vocation at our baptism, and continue it week by week, day by day, as we are fed by God in the eucharist, in order to be sent our to “live and work to [God’s] praise and glory”. We meet with God in communion in ways which change and transform us – not just when we receive communion for the first time, as A,K,S,J,J and H will today, but every time.
If we are to do God’s work of serving and transforming this broken world in which we live, we need that ongoing transformation. God knows we can’t do it on our own. But in Jesus we find what we need in order to do and to be what the world needs.
In a while we will sing a song, which may be new to many of you, and I want you to especially notice the chorus:
“We are blessed, to bless a world in pieces
We are loved, to love where love is not
We are changed, to be the change you promised
We are freed, to be your hands, O God”
Blessing, freedom, transformation, and love. That is what we encounter in Jesus at the eucharist, just as his first disciples did on the mountaintop. This is our weekly ‘mountain-top moment’. But, like those first disciples, we cannot stay on the mountain top. We cannot stay cosily in a club called ‘church’. That isn’t what being the church, the body of Christ, is about. We are called and sent by Jesus to use whatever we have received from him in order to serve others and transform the world to be more and more like God’s kingdom.
So I say to A,K,S, J, J and H, and to all of you:
Be blessed – and do whatever you can to bless others.
Be changed by meeting Jesus in communion – then go out and change the world, or at least whatever small part of it you can.
Be freed by your encounter with the living God, from whatever holds you back – and invite others into that freedom.
Know yourself to be loved, loved beyond anything you can imagine, loved fully, extravagantly, outrageously, loved by God who is love – and do whatever you can, love people in whatever ways you can think of, to let everyone you encounter know that they too are loved like that.
As you come to receive communion, allow yourself to be changed by the One who is Love, then go out and change the world through love.
After the sermon, we looked at what people (of all ages!) had made with their pipe cleaners, and wondered together about what the things we had made could tell us about God. There was a huge variety of things people had made – a ring, a cat, a heart, the sea, a dinosaur, a scorpion, a balloon, and at least 2 giraffes! The variety of shapes we had made helped us to think about the variety of ways God shapes each of us, to become the beautiful diverse people of God – together. Then in silence we considered the question: “I wonder how God is changing and transforming you?”