his response to The
book by Richard Dawkins, the Revd
Nicky Gumbel (who is the pioneer of the Alpha Course) in his book called Is
God a Delusion? tells the story of a nun working as a missionary in the
that got me thinking. Our faith is based on pretty sound reasoning and personal
experience down the ages but, just as in that story, it may look totally
irrational to an outsider.
of the things we do must look very strange to others. Do you remember how the
sacraments are described? Ė an outward
and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Yet other people see the
signs, the actions and they donít get beyond that point. What we do just
appears, to them, to look completely irrational. That can be true even here -
group singing: who ever sings in a group with other people these days, unless
you do it as a hobby or youíre on the football terraces or I suppose if
youíre drunk! Kneeling to pray - who ever kneels these days? Praying itself;
repeating words in unison with others; receiving a minute circle of manufactured
wafer; bowing to the altar or the blessed sacrament; making the sign of the
cross and so on.
reminds me very much of something which appears in that Agatha
Christie novel - one of the Hercule Poirot ones -
you see the point? Once you understand then everything makes sense. Once you share the same
beliefs, the actions donít seem mad or irrational at all; theyíre perfectly
in keeping with what is believed.
the task I believe we have for others. Itís not so much to change or adapt
what we do to try to match other peopleís unbelief, itís surely to try and
bring those people to belief, to faith, to understanding, so they can experience
the joy of worshipping and having a relationship with a living God.
That was the clear instruction from Jesus to his disciples: "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel, make disciples of all nations, for this is the will of my Father; that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life".
we not Christís disciples? Thatís why weíre here isnít it? Not
because itís something different to do on a Sunday or because all the shops
are shut - in fact they are not. Weíre here to worship God, to give thanks, to
receive His strength to carry on, to pray for others. Weíre here because we
are Christís disciples, so that clear instruction from Jesus applies just as
much to us as it did 2,000 years ago to Peter and James and John and all the
must try to bring others to God, help them to hear His message and, most
importantly, help them to understand it. We must continue to ensure our fuel
tanks are constantly filled up - it doesnít matter if it comes out of a potty
as long as what we are pouring in is the Holy Spirit.
has all this got to do with the transfiguration? Well, I have to admit,
thereís no immediately apparent link but this is an important Sunday in the
from Tim, who lives over there, all the
rest of us have had to climb up to this church today. OK, some will have done it
by car but we have all somehow ascended this mini-mountain. This, right here, is
the place where we meet God, where we can get a glimpse of heaven, where
once again Jesus is the connecting point and where we can all be transformed.
When we descend from here, will our faces be shining? Remember those words from Corinthians: Our faces are not covered with a veil. We all display the Lordís glory. We are being changed to become more like him. Yes, we too can be transfigured. We too can become radiant.
at the end of this service letís go back down the hill again with that
radiance shining; shining on others. Let them see the light of Christ of in us.
Let them see his love, through us. Let them see how knowing Christ can
transform, can transfigure us and let them understand it can transform
and transfigure them too.
not disfiguration or configuration; itís transfiguration - defined
quite simply as a complete change of form
or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. It happens right here.
you so much for your attention this morning and each time Iíve spoken over the
last few years. Just so you know where I'm coming from and what Iím
taking away from the privilege of having been allowed to do preach to you on
various occasions over the past four years, I leave you with the words of the
author of the Vicar of Wakefield, Oliver Goldsmith:
can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips
© Richard Farquharson, Maulden, Bedfordshire July 2016
This sermon was originally delivered in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Maulden, Bedfordshire on 10 February, 2013