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Monday, August 13, 2012

Baptism: What It is and Why It Matters

Ever wonder why Christians have such an odd ritual of initiation? We take people and put them under water or we take babies and sprinkle them with water, we daub them with oil and then we say, “Welcome to the body of Christ!” (The most unusual baptism I think I've ever seen was in a Mennonite Church. There they took a whole pitcher of water and poured it on the heads of the ones to be baptised. It looked like fun for the pastor, not so much for the baptisees.) We understand baptism best when we understand a few things about the Old Testament. First, we understand that God made the world and “it was good” and He made you “in His image.” In spite of our sins, the world that God made is still good. In spite of our sins, we are still made in His image, as great-great grandchildren of Adam and Eve. Secondly, because of sin, mankind ruined the world God created and ruined the image of God that is in everyone: "Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth" (Gen. 6:11-13). In a sense, Noah’s flood was the first baptism. St. Peter alludes to this in I Peter 3. God enveloped the earth with water to purify it from sin. Thirdly, ever since the Flood, washing was associated with removal of sin. The Law (Torah) is full of prescribed washings: for priests, for the people for the animals being sacrificed, for the altars, the candle stands, etc. These washings were to be repeated over and over again. Why? Because sin was/is an enduring condition. It happened and it happens again and again. You and I know this to be true, don't we? We make our resolutions to God to 'never say that again' or 'never go there again' or 'be more holy', etc., only to find that by the next morning, we have failed. The endurance of sin outlasts the endurance of our own wills. Fourthly, Jesus Christ took on the sins of the whole world, "the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18). As the Apostle continues, he teaches us that baptism connects us with the resurrection of Christ. The symbolism the of baptismal waters is clear: into the water, as Christ entered the earth, out of the water, as He arose from the dead. Just as Noah and his family exited the ark into a world untainted by sin, just as Jesus Christ rose the Victor over sin and death, so we rise from the waters of baptism to lead a life that is new, washed, and directed.
So then, what is Baptism to use and why does it matter? Baptism is an expression of Faith. It is an expression of one's personal dedication to Jesus Christ, or, in the case of infants, the faith of the child's parents. * It is "New Birth" in John 3 (sometimes called ‘regeneration’). * In Acts 2, it is a matter of Acceptance. The crowds understood St. Peter’s sermon and cried out, "What must we do to be saved?" * In Acts 8, Faith is seen as understanding who Jesus Christ is. The account of St. Philip and the Ethiopian is a good story of people finding Christ by a growing understanding of God's word. * Acts 9 demonstrates Faith as Conversion. St. Paul’s dramatic conversion on the Damascus Road shows how some of us need to be knocked to the ground in order to be raised up by God Who loves us. * Faith as "Salvation" is seen in Romans 10:9, 10: “Confession is made unto salvation.” Whatever the experience of your faith may be, Baptism acknowledges the call of Jesus Christ in your life and it is united to the faith of the Church and around the world by the washing action of Baptism. That is why it is important to also understand that Baptism is not merely an action of your personal experience of faith in Christ. It is necessarily also an expression of the Faith of the Whole Church. This is why at Baptism we re-state the Baptismal Creed, commonly known as The Apostles' Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Make of Heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into Hell. The third day He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven And is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. While we affirm the Faith of the Church in the Nicene Creed at the Eucharist and on other occasions, the straightforward simplicity of the Apostles' Creed seems to be best for the straightforward simplicity of Baptism. We affirm the faith of the Church at Baptism as a way of expressing that we are not Christians just out on our own, doing our own thing, "just Jesus and me." We affirm that faith is a personal experience, but belief is a corporate experience. We declare that being a Christian means something, God and to us. We agree that many saints have gone on before us and will come after us, not based on our experience of faith, but of the timeless faith of Christianity. A friend of mine once described Baptism in the context of rock climbers. As climbers ascend the face of a cliff, they tap small toe holds into the cracks of the rocks. These toe holds not only assist their climb: they also mark the way for those who follow after them. Where there are no toe holds, there is likely a good reason not to go that way. And when the climber reaches the top of the rock, exhausted, tired and sweaty, he can look back down at those toe holds and recall just exactly where his journey has taken him. Finally, Baptism is "faith in action." We sometimes associate "faith in action" with charitable works, good deeds, and a sort of 'show me' religion. While these are good, true faith in action is to follow Jesus Christ and to follow Him into the waters of baptism: "Then said they unto him, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:28-29). We may do many great things in our lives, many good works to assuage our guilt, many noble humanitarian acts to help our brother in need. But true faith in action is to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to be His disciple. And it all starts with that odd ritual of initiation we call Baptism. Discussion Questions: What is your experience of faith in Jesus Christ? In what ways will baptism mark your faith experience? Coming next week: Faith: What God Does for Us in Baptism

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tangible Thanksgiving

This post is based on notes for my sermon on Thanksgiving, delivered at Peoria Church on Sun., Nov. 20, 2011.

We commemorate Thanksgiving by paying honor to the Pilgrims who came to the New World in 1620.

We honor their faith, even though we don’t necessarily share it. The Pilgrims were a Christian separatist group, who probably wouldn’t have worshiped with us anyhow. They wouldn’t have celebrated Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter or other ‘manmade’ holidays. They were largely Unitarians, five-point Calvinists who believed in original sin.

We honor their heroism though we are not heroes. At least I’m not a hero. I don’t think I would have taken a trip like theirs, with a large possibility of death and disaster. Some 47% of the passengers and crew died by then end of their first winter in New England.

We honor their vision for freedom, though we usually take freedom for granted. Before they disembarked from the Mayflower, the crew and Pilgrims created the Mayflower Compact, a document which set the pattern for democracy and voting that we have to this day in America. Yet in our last election, fewer than a third of eligible voters did so.

The Pilgrims were thankful for their earthly, tangible blessings.

* They built their first homes here from nothing. There were no homes waiting here for them upon their arrival. They built shelters from mud, logs, branches, straw from the ship, and stone. And they were thankful.

* They grew crops the following Spring from nothing. They brought seed with them in their cache of supplies, but they landed in New England on Nov. 9, 1620 – not a good time to plant anything in New England. Yet, they were thankful.

* They knew no one when they got here, other than themselves. In their two months at sea, crowded into the Mayflower, conflicts, scrapes, and the Pilgrims’ separatist attitude strained relationships aboard ship. (I don’t know about you, but we could barely make it half an hour in the car with our kids without some kind of scuttle.) But they were thankful for the people they were with.

Sometimes it takes getting to nothing to make us thankful for what we have. As the song says, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

In 2011 we have the luxury of being thankful for the “intanglibles of life.” We speak vaguely: “I’m thankful for friends and family,” “I’m thankful for all my blessings,” “I’m thankful for food and shelter.”

What would it be like to go through your home this Thanksgiving and thank God for everything in it, item by item?

More often, we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have enough, God!” I don’t have enough clothing! I don’t have enough food! I don’t have enough house! Not enough money! Just not enough!

And I’m certainly not thankful about it.

The thing is, God knows this about us. He knows how attached we become to tangible things, how we try to find satisfaction in life through what we can touch, see, taste, and smell. In I Corinthians 10, St. Paul writes about this as a warning to the Corinthians:

- Verse 7, he warns them about materialism that turns into idolatry.

- Verse 8, he cautions about relationships that turn into sexual immorality.

- Verse 9, he reminds that trust in God can turn into testing God.

- Verse 10, he notes how prayer can turn to grumbling.

No one is totally free of this. In I Cor. 10:12, Paul states plainly: “let anyone who thinks he stand take heed, lest he fall.”

This weakness we have for tangible things (as the saint calls it, ‘the flesh’), is why our intangible God put us in a tangible world to begin with. We are tangible, touchable, sensate beings. God made us this way in order to foster thanksgiving in us. Our relationship with God is nurtured through gratitude. Moreover, our tangible selves understand our need and dependence on God, because He is the One Who provides.

Because He understands our tangible weakness, God was Incarnate – He became tangible – in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ ate with people, He drank with them, worked with them, talked with them and was heard by them. He held their children, touched their sick, and helped carry their load. As we head into Advent next week, we need to remember that this is what Christmas is all about: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1)

Since we are tangible beings, God has given a tangible remembrance of Himself in the eucharist. It is so appropriate to remember this at Thanksgiving, because eucharist means “thanksgiving.” Both the Lord and St. Paul use the word in the establishment of the Sacrament. In Luke 22, Jesus Christ uses eucharist three times. First with the Passover Cup of Blessing. (Remember, the setting was within the Passover meal.) Next, He “gave thanks” and blessed the bread, saying “This is my Body.” And thirdly, in the same manner, He gave thanks for the Cup, saying “This is my Blood.” Matthew and Mark are identical on the last two points and St. Paul restates is verbatim in I Cor. 11:23-26.

In the Eucharist, we find that our tangible connection with bread and wine becomes the spiritual expression of faith, through this simple act of thanksgiving. The Apostle puts it this way: “This Cup which we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ?… This Bread which we bless, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?” (I Cor. 10:16)

You and I are asked to take this tangible thanksgiving, this “eucharist,” with us after the supper. Our souls are fed, “with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are nourished with the grace of thanksgiving.

And maybe we are more ready to be thankful for all those blessings you have around your home, naming them one by one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Got Plans for Saturday?

The weather promises to be grim, again. May or may not rain, but cloudy, a little sun poking through here and there, and unseasonably chilly.

This Saturday, I mean.

I plan to finish some work in the garden, probably mow again, begin working on a couple projects.

And, if things go well, the Lord will return and we won't have any more weather forecasts to worry about.

There's been a lot of hubbub about the Second Coming this weekend. ( There's even a billboard outside North Manchester affirming the fact. There's no name or attribution to it, but it seems to be fairly authoritative.

I like basing my faith on billboards.

I've been asked by a number of people whether or not I think it's going to happen this Saturday. My answer is usually the same: "I'm ready for it either way."

The point of the Second Coming, whether or not it's this weekend or in another thousand years, is not to scare people into a repentance frenzy. The point is to be ready. This readiness means to live for God the way you're supposed to all the time.

It's like working a day or two without the boss around. Are you tempted to nap or take something or have a longer lunch without clocking out? Maybe. Probably. But would you do it? Hopefully not. The boss has confidence in you to leave his business knowing that what needs to be done can be done while he's gone.

There is no doubt that Christ will return. The New Testament affirms this repeatedly and both the Apostles and Nicene Creeds teach it. However, the Lord Himself is very reluctant to say when - He says that "wars and rumors of wars" are only the beginnings of the "birthpangs."

Will He come this Saturday? Could be. Could not be.

If He does, I'll be happy. I've been looking forward to going to Heaven for a long time and I'll be able to avoid a heart attack, cancer, fatal accident, or other tragedy. I'm ready.

If He doesn't, well, I'll be happy, too. I love my life here. I have a wonderful wife and great kids, I love my job and my Church. I have good friends and a great place to live. I have so many blessings, that I'll be glad to live with them for as long as it takes. I'm ready to stay, too.

To repeat: the point is readiness. How do you get ready for something like the Second Coming? It's simply an act of faith.
- St. Peter told the crowds in Acts 2 that they should "Repent, believe, and be baptized."
- St. Paul told the Romans to confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead and they would be 'saved'.
- St. John wrote the inimitable words: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Okay. So it's not that simple. Repentance, believing, confessing, accepting love from God (or anyone else, for that matter). These are difficult things. But they are the kernel of the Christian faith. They are life-long actions that prepare us of Christ's coming, either at death or denouement.

So, this Saturday, I'm ready. And if my current plans for the yard and garden happen to change because of the Second Coming, so much the better.

(Obviously, I hope those who read this are ready, too!)

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Bible is Not An Answer Key

Epistle: I Cor. 1:4-9
Gospel: Matt. 22:34-46

Growing up in home with a teacher wasn't always easy. We couldn't get away with as much because Mom knew all the tricks. At the same time, I learned early one of the tricks of teaching: All of Mom’s school books had the answers in them. They were usually in the back of the book or embedded in the margins. This was the teacher's Answer Key.

Of course, one problem was also that I never took any of the classes my Mom taught.

There are people who would use the Bible as an answer key. There are some who always need the right answer: When is Christ returning? How do you baptize people? When should Church be (Saturday or Sunday)? Should women speak in Church? Etc.

Some want to use the Bible to exclude the "wrong ones." For Catholics the issue is Communion. They're nice about it, but unless you're one of them, you're out. There are “closed groups,” like the Amish who want to stay separate from worldliness. Other splinter groups within denominations use the Bible to prove their point.

There are also some who use the "Answer Key" to practice religious “one-up-manship.” These folks like to say, "I know this and you don’t."

What does the Bible say about itself?

The Lord gives us an example in today's Gospel: The Law of Love is the filter for understanding the Bible. When queried by the teachers of the Law, “Love the Lord your God” and “Love your neighbor” were not the answers they expected.

What they expected was for Jesus to take sides, with either Sadducces or Pharisees. In Matt. 22:15, just a few verses before today's reading, it says that "they laid plans to trap Him."

Even better for them would have been for Jesus to trap Himself. They looked for a chance to say, "Well, Jesus, you said this in Galilee and now you're saying that here." Or, "We thought we heard you say this and now you mean that?"

These teachers of the Law sought to align Jesus with one or the other of them by creating a hierarchy of which verses meant more than others – the Law, the Prophets, or the Wisdom literature? But Jesus uses the filter of love to demonstrate to them that "all the Law and the Prophets" hang on loving God and loving their neighbor.

Another thing the Bible says about itself is that it is intended to bring us to Christ. We have this printed on the back of our weekly bulletin for everyone to see: The Bible is the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24).

Instead of being an "Answer Key," the Bible tells us that the Answer is Jesus Christ and the Bible is our guidebook to Him. Without the Answer (Jesus Christ) everything else is simply argument.

We should be clear about this: The Bible doesn’t save us – Jesus Christ does. The Bible wasn't crucified for us. The Bible didn't descend into hell. The Bible didn't raise again on the third day or ascend into Heaven. Jesus Christ did. The Bible shows us the way to salvation through Him.

Another aspect of the Bible is that is is a light, “a lamp unto my feet” (Psalm 119:105). I remember seeing an Amish farmer on Whitley Road leading his horses and hay wagon in the pitch dark. All he could see was the glow of that light in about an eight foot radius. But that's all he needed to see to get his team home.

Jesus Christ is the Light of the World and we walk in the daylight of God’s light. The Bible – a lamp unto my feet – a flashlight for finding our way in the darkness until we get to the Light – who is Jesus Christ

Finally, we understand that the Bible is inspired (II Tim. 3:16), which means "God-breathed." It should be treated as inspired, not a quiz book or novel. The same Holy Spirit Who inspired the Bible is that same Holy Spirit
Who inspires you.

Inspiration transcends what we understand to help us understand things by faith. Things that are hard for our maodern skeptical minds are understood by faith in God's inspiration, from miracles – Red Sea Crossing, the Resurrection - to Christ's difficult teachings – heaven and hell, sin and justification.

How do you understand the Bible? Is it God's written word, your guidebook to Christ? Instead of using it as an Answer Key, do you know Him who is the Answer?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Queen and The Cross

The Exaltation of the Holy and Life-Giving Cross
This is from my sermon on Sun., Sept. 12, 2010.

Epistle: Phil. 2:5-11
Psalm 34
Gospel: John 12:31-36

As remembered the 9/11 attacks yesterday, I was put in mind of the story of St. Helen and the discovery and lifting up of the Cross.

If anyone had brought to Church a piece of the steel from Ground Zero, we likely would have a sense of reverent awe about it.
* We would wonder about where in the Towers it had been.
* We might ask if any of the survivors would have somehow touched it.
* We might have asked if any of the victims had been killed by it.

This shard of metal would hold a great symbolic meaning to us because it would have brought us emotionally to the place of such a great tragedy.

St. Helen's discovery of the Cross may have been a very similar experience. She was the Christian mother of Emperor Constantine, a pagan at the time. (Constantine was converted and baptized very late in his life. The prayers of a mother for her son sometimes last a lifetime.)

St. Helen would have been familiar with, dismayed by, and prayed about the persecutions of the Church in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. She would have been influential in Constantine's Edict of Toleration, which decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire. Like many Christians of the time, she finally had the freedom to practice her faith openly, travel freely to Christian meetings, and to make a pilgrimage to Jersalem.

And, like many millions of Christians since Helen, she wanted to walk where Jesus walked, she wanted to see if somehow His voice still echoed in the walls of Jerusalem, if His image remained in the minds of the people of Palestine.

In a unique and profound way, God gave Helen the desire of her heart, to feel the wood on which He died, to be brought emotionally and spiritually in the place of such a great tragedy.

Jesus said: "If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me."

Helen had a memorable encounter with God.

Have you had a memorable encounter with God?

I know we are supposed to encounter God in our daily lives, but I made a list of some encounters I've had with God that stand out to me:
1) Koinonia, which was a retreat of sorts that I was involved with in high school, similar to Cursillo or the Emmaus Walk. They made a deep impact on my soul.
2) In high school and after I moved back home I was involved in a Tuesday night prayer and praise meeting. Karen and I went after we were married. In those quiet prayerful moments, we shared the presence of God with some very Godly men and women.
3) I experienced a miraculous healing of a badly sprained ankle. While loading my car at college to go home for summer break, I fell down a flight of stairs and sprained my right ankle. I went to the campus clinic, took some Tylenol, and went to my exams on crutches. That Sunday, I walked into a Church I was visiting on my crutches. After the service, some people I didn't know and have never seen again came to me and said they felt led to pray for my healing. My ankle was instantly healed. I walked out of Church carrying my crutches.
4) At our wedding reception, I had an inspiration to read the latter half of Proverbs 31 aloud to Karen in front of all the reception attenders. It seemed to seal the meaning of our vows.
5) On a number of occasions, Karen and I have taken "days of prayer" before we faced a major decision. Those were definite encounters with God.
6) In January 2004, I had an accident on the ice that nearly killed me. It totalled the car and I ended up in a creek bed 300 feet off the road. After the impact of the car hitting the tree on the driver's side door, I crawled out the passenger's side door and all I could say was "Thank you Lord" over and over again. After going to a nearby house to call for help, the Lord seemed to speak to my heart saying, "It's time for you to get serious about your faith and doctrine."

Have you had a memorable encounter with God?

Some people may wonder about St. Helen's encounter with God in  the finding of the Cross, just like they may question the encounters with God I've had in my own life. But the truth of the Gospel remains:

"If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me."

Helen's enounter with God lifted the Cross of Christ and has drawn thousands of people to Him since.

My hope is that in some small way, my enounters with God will at least draw someone to Him as well.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Should You Pray With Glenn Beck?

Radio host Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck has been in the news a lot this past weekend. He hosted a rally with over 300,000 people in Washington, D.C.

I like to listen to Glenn on WOWO Radio in Fort Wayne for about ten minutes each day, then I've usually had enough.

The thing is, Glenn and I agree on many things. He's a conservative libertarian, I'm a conservative libertarian. He's pro-life, I'm pro-life. He's in favor of the tradtional family, I'm in favor of the traditional family.

It's when Glenn starts talking about God that I simply have to shut him off.

Glenn Beck is a Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In itself, there's nothing really wrong with that. We have freedom of religion and he can be whatever religion he wants to be.

But I am a Christian. I believe in One God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, undivided and consubstantial, God, "ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally the same..."

This is not the god of the Mormons. This is not the god to whom Glenn Beck prays. The LDS Church flatly denies the Trinity. They have extricated references to the Holy Trinity from hymns and music they sing. Their denial of the Trinity means their denial of everything that God is: the Eternal, Universal Divine Nature of God the Father Who created all things visible and invisible. To the Mormons, God the Father is god of this planet, but not the Sovereign Lord of all.

Their denial of the Trinity means that they don't believe that Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God, fully human and fully divine. They don't accept that everything of God was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary, that all of God walked with His human family, and that God Himself surrendered His life to bring new life to all men.

Their denial of the Trinity means that the Holy Spirit is less than fully God. That means that the energies of God cannot work in the life of the believer through the Mysteries, that the fruit of the Spirit is not the manifestation of the life of God.

To some this may seem like trivia or theological mumbo-jumbo.

In fact, it goes to the kernel of Glenn Beck's movement. Glenn asks his faithful to join him in prayer every morning. He tells his radio audience that we need to get back to God. He said at the 8/28 Rally that America's only hope is to get back to God.

But which god? The LDS Church believes that different worlds have different deities. They think that men in the LDS priesthood will become gods of other worlds. They teach that human life on earth is intended to bring "spirit children" into being from various levels of heaven so that they may become deities of other worlds. They reject almost all aspects of the historic Church claiming that historic Christianity is apostate and that the movement establised by Joseph Smith is the true embodiment of what the Lord intended.

I appreciate Glenn's call to get America back to its roots. His clarion call to return to the Constitution is well made. His efforts to renew American interest in our Founding Fathers are commendable. His challenge to ever encroaching and swelling government intrusion are needed.

But I can't pray with him. I can pray for him, but not with him.

I hope I've made you think.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Transfiguration: The Things We Don't Forget

Epistle: II Peter 1:13-18
Gospel: Luke 9:28-36

Karen is a school teacher and she has taught me a lot about the way people learn. Some of us learn with our hands, some with our ears, some with our eyes, and some of us with a combinations of ways.

One of the things that she has taught me about learning is that we don't forget the things we learn that have an emotional impact on us. We don't forget when we've fallen in love, we don't forget our marriage, we don't forget when we've been treated with gentle affection.

I remember my Grandma. I don't remember a lot about her intellectually, but I remember that she always greeted us with warm wet kisses and had the best hugs. (She also made peanut butter toast on sesame seed bread that was the bomb.)

We also remember those things that have an emotional impact that are very negative: abuse, pain, rejection.

These things connect with us on a deeper level than merely our intellect.

I'd like to add that those things which impact us spiritully are also things we remember.
* We remember those quiet times we had when we prayed at home with our kids before bed.
* We remember moments with God when we face a time of crisis.
* We remember our conversion, that time when we realize that Jesus Christ is alive, that He loves us, and that we want to be His follower.
* We remember times of nurture: retreats, camps, holy days.

This is St. Peter's experience of the Transfiguration as he tells it in II Peter. St. Luke gives us the details in chapter 9 of his Gospel: eight days after Peter's confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, on a mountain, with James and John. They saw Christ's appearance change and His robes become brilliant, "glistering white" as Coverdale translates it.

Peter's confession took place in a discourse with Jesus Christ and the Apostles after the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 earlier in Luke 9, which occured after the Apostles completed their ministry of healing, exorcism and preaching.

Peter's emotional response was three-fold:
1) To "do something." You know how you respond in a crisis, don't you? Many of us want to "do something" to help, to provide relief, to take care of the situation. In Peter's case, he wanted to build tabernacles for Jesus Christ and Elijah and Moses (who were with Jesus in that glorious cloud).
2) Peter knew it was good to be there on the mountain with Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of a situation Peter didn't understand at the moment, he and the others knew "it is good for us to be here."
3) He had a sense of awe and fear. He and James and John had to have been thinking, "Is this really happening?" and "What's going to happen next?" Wouldn't you?

This emotional response is echoed by St. Peter's spiritual account given to us in his epistle:
1) He was an "eyewitness to His majestic glory." This is an honor very few have seen. Moses saw the glory of God in the Burning Bush; he saw it again in the cleft of the rock passing by (Ex. 33). Elijah saw God's glory when he was taken up the chariot. Isaiah saw the glory of God in the Temple (Isaiah 6). And now Peter, James and John joined this honored group.
2) Peter "heard the Voice of God" without question. He recalled specifically what God said. How unlike us: We think we hear the voice of God, but we're not sure... maybe it's nerves, maybe it's self-will, maybe it's just fatigue.
3) Peter knew the closeness of God. He says, "we were with Him."

By commemorating the Transfiguration we are witnesses, like Peter, James and John.

We are witnesses to the Divinity of Jesus Christ through His glorification on that mountain top.

We are witnesses to the Presence of the Holy Trinity. There is God the Son in the cloud of majestic glory with God the Father represented in Moses the Law Giver and God the Holy Spirit represented in Elijah the Prophet.

We are witnesses to the faithful truth of Scripture.

Especially, by commemorating the Transfiguration we recall again those times when God has impacted our own lives:
* Those times when we have seen God in His glory. Just this morning I took a walk. It was foggy and pre-dawn. The sky was brightening, but I couldn't see anything specific. I turned the corner and walked up the hill about half-mile. Suddenly above the eastern horizon, above the purple shadows of the trees and Schuler's barn, there was the sun, a bright tangerine of light warming away the dewy chill. I thought how appropriate that was for Transfiguration: the sudden glory of God warming away the dewy chill of the Apostles sleep.
* Those times when God was real to us "in the moment" - as real as He was on that mountain. We remember how we felt, what we saw, how we responded in that moment.
* Those times when we retell about our encounters with God to others:
- "This is what God has done for me"
- "This is what He said to me in His Word"
- "In my time of need, God was with me"

The Collect for Transfiguration
O God, who on the mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses Thine Only-Begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistering; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may be permitted to behold the King in His beauty, who with Thee, O Father, and Thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.