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Luke 9:28-43a

Here’s a big shout out to the Hannah circle for cleaning up the church kitchen the Tuesday before last. That’s usually a job you can file under “thankless.” It’s certainly not anyone’s favorite use of five hours. It’s a job that tends not to get done, because it’s just so easy to ignore. It’s not as attractive as putting on dinners and spending great fellowship time together.

Life in the church often seems like it should be more glorious than it is. Everything we do should have great worshipful music and warm feelings. We wish everything we did could be a powerful encounter with God. To be sure, God is at the root of all our work. None of us comes here because we ran out of stuff to clean, shovel, and organize at home. We’re here because we want to seek God together. We gather in this grand space to experience something of God’s size. We join in groups to learn from each other how to hear and see God. Ultimately, God is what we seek. Others (or some of us) may seek God on the ski trail, on a boat, or in a garden. Sometimes those places seem like more glory and less work. But really? Did I just call a garden or a boat “less work” than being here? Yes, the church needs our dusting, planning, and funding, but the whole world demands our hard work.

So imagine that Peter had built tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah in the transfiguration story. Imagine he had followed his impulse to stay on the mountaintop – after all, that’s where God had shone most clearly. That’s often my temptation, but I know the mountaintop doesn’t hold me forever. Eventually, even the temple needs sweeping, and eventually, even I’m happy to do it. True rest always brings us into action. So Jesus and his followers went back down into the world of work, but with that image burned into their minds: this is the glory we work toward. It can help to carry that image of glory with you, to keep you pointed toward the ultimate goal.

It reminds me of the story I heard about Jim Carrey early in his acting career. During a stretch when good work had been especially hard to find, he wrote a $10 million check to himself, dated sometime in the future. It was a way to keep himself motivated when acting was hard, as it always is. And just before the date on the check, he was offered $10 million to star in Dumb and Dumber. His tremendous success (and his slapstick talent) can overshadow the hard work it took to get there. When Oprah Winfrey responded to his story by saying, “Visualization works, if you work hard,” he interrupted with, “Yeah, that’s the thing, you can’t just visualize and then go eat a sandwich.”

After the vision, Jesus took his disciples down the mountain. The story doesn’t end with a lovely picnic on Mt Tabor. Just after Jesus is named again as God’s Son, he meets another father, who pleads, “Help my only son!” Bringing in God’s kingdom took daily work, like healing this boy, but that work was always oriented toward a vision of God’s new world in Jesus.

What’s tricky is that the daily work of God’s kingdom, offered as a kind of prayer, actually changes what that kingdom looks like to us. Our visions and reality interact with each other. It’s like our daily kitchen-cleaning tasks: when we look for Christ’s glory in them, we start to see the vision become more real (and more surprising).

You can try it (with thanks to Mustard Seeds). Feel free to take a tea light with you this week. You can light it to remember that your work reflects God’s light. So may we see and reflect this glory.

Amen.

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