MANUSCRIPTS FROM PASTOR DAEKYUNG'S MOST RECENT SERMONS ARE BELOW:
Witness to the Word - April 21, 2019 - EASTER
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:42-58, Matthew 28:6 Title: Not Here in This Tomb _ The Empty Tomb Sermon Series, Week 1
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. 50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
May you be reminded what a joy it is to live the new, resurrected life that Jesus shares with us as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
There were four friends. They spent a ton of time with each other. They ate together, traveled together, and went through many things together. But one day, one of them died in an accident. The rest were shattered. They buried their friend in deep grief. Next day, it drizzled. They went out to a bar in the night to drown their sorrows and then visited the cemetery. But shockingly, the grave was uncovered. And the body of the friend was not there. All of a sudden, the lightning flashed in the sky. [Thunder & Lightning Sound] Doesn’t this sound like the opening scene from a scary zombie movie? Well, quite frankly, the Easter story is similar to it. How the women felt when they first discovered the empty tomb of Jesus would not have been different from how the three friends felt when they found his friend’s grave dug up. The story of resurrection day is not about what is likely to happen in real life easily. It is as weird, scary and unusual as a zombie story.
My imagination ran away with me while preparing the sermon. So, I found out a similarity and a difference between the two stories. An aspect they have in common is contagiousness. The zombie virus spreads through direct contact with infected people. Christ’s Resurrection power also continues to transform people’s lives. The difference between them lies in what is contagious. Zombies spread death and destruction. But, whoever experiences the Risen Lord shares life and love. Yes! That’s the main point of the resurrection story with which we all are familiar. The story continually asks us whether we are experiencing the contagious power of the Christ’s resurrection in which we become life-giving followers of Jesus.
The resurrection of Jesus is, of course, the foundation of our belief that we will be resurrected even after death. That’s why we are always told at funeral services, “Jesus said, I am the resurrection and I am life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25). Someday in the future, we will rise again and be reunited with our loved ones.
But, it is also here and now that we believe that we can experience resurrection. If we are sure of Christ’s resurrection, we are called to respond to the following questions: Again, where do you experience the contagious power of the resurrection from day to day? Where do you see the Resurrected Jesus working in your ordinary life? How does the resurrection power influence your daily thoughts and activities? Have you been transformed by that power? Those questions make us think about whether we who live in the hope of future resurrection also live as a witness to the Risen Christ in the present.
To sum up, Jesus is still resurrected again when we reproduce the life of Jesus in our everyday lives. There was a man who lived with his widowed mother. She did many good deeds in her whole life. But, he was the opposite. Later, his mother passed away. But surprisingly enough, he began to change after the funeral. He looked back on how his mother lived and started to do what she did. He felt that his mother still lived in his heart whenever he did good as she did. While I prepared for funeral services, many bereaved families shared these memories with me: My mother always smiled at those around her, and it made them happy; my father loved to give, etc. Then, in my funeral sermon, I would say, “I encourage all who are gathered here to give a warm smile to others as the deceased person used to do” or “I invite you to be a giver like your loved one who just left this world.” When we do what our loved ones used to do, they will continue to remain a part of our lives. Likewise, when we welcome, love, forgive, share as Jesus did, the Risen Lord will still remain a part of our lives.
Jesus was nailed to the cross. And he died in the end. The disciples couldn’t help but feel devastated. They were seized by fear. All of them were filled with despair and disappointment. They didn’t know what to do. Only a brooding silence descended on them. Some of them just came back to the place where Jesus called them. They couldn’t find a reason to be a part of Jesus’ disciples any longer because he died. Hope had been extinguished. But, after a few days, some women came to look at the tomb very early in the morning. And, they found the entrance stone rolled away from the tomb. In surprise, they walked in. And, the body of Jesus was not there in the tomb. The tomb was empty! They spread the news. And finally, the disciples encountered their Risen Teacher. And, what happened later? They acted like their teacher. They shouted, “God loves you!” They healed the sick and fed the hungry. Jesus was not there in the tomb. And, the disciples also did not remain in the tomb. The tomb was empty! And, since then, Jesus’ life has been reproduced in the lives of his countless followers including us continually.
Today’s reading says, “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). This is the confession of the Apostle Paul who experienced the Risen Christ in his life. He realized that the tomb did not have the last word. He was convinced that Jesus’ resurrection also made our resurrection possible. Friends, we from time to time don’t know what to do in a desperate situation. We feel like we are in the tomb. But, that’s not the end. We will be resurrected. We may be planted in a state of dishonor but will be raised in a state of splendor (International Standard Version). We may be planted in weakness but will be raised in power. This will be the main theme we are going to think about for the next several weeks. Are you in despair? The empty tomb will remind you of hope. Do you live your life like a lifeless person? The empty tomb will encourage you to have a dream. Are you indifferent to those who are suffering? The empty tomb will invite you to be compassionate. Are you lonely? The empty tomb will help you to recall the good friends around you.
“Little Philip, born with Down’s syndrome, attended a third-grade Sunday School class with several eight-year-old boys and girls. Typical of that age, the children did not readily accept Philip with his differences, according to an article in leadership magazine. But because of a creative teacher, they began to care about Philip and accept him as part of the group, though not fully. The Sunday after Easter the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers, the kind that look like large eggs. Each receiving one, the children were told to go outside on that lovely spring day, find some symbol for new life, and put it in the egg-like container. Back in the classroom, they would share their new-life symbols, opening the containers one by one in surprise fashion. After running about the church property in wild confusion, the students returned to the classroom and placed the containers on the table. Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them one by one. After each one, whether a flower, butterfly, or leaf, the class would ooh and ahh. Then one was opened, revealing nothing inside. The children exclaimed, That’s stupid. That’s not fair. Somebody didn’t do their assignment.” Philip spoke up, “That’s mine.” “Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” the student retorted. “There’s nothing there!” “I did so do it,” Philip insisted. “I did do it. It’s empty. The tomb was empty!” Silence followed. From then on Philip became a full member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral this class of eight-year-olds marched up to the altar not with flowers, but with their Sunday school teacher, each to lay on it an empty pantyhose egg.”
Jesus is not here in this tomb; he has risen. So, let us not remain in the tomb. Let us leave the tomb empty. And let us walk with our Risen Lord. Amen.
 . https://bible.org/illustration/empty-tomb
Witness to the Word - April 14, 2019
Text: Luke 19:28-44, Exodus 3:5 Title: Prayer: Getting Orders from God
28 After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. 29 As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. 30 “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. 33 And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, “Why are you untying that colt?” 34 And the disciples simply replied, “The Lord needs it.” 35 So they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it for him to ride on. 36 As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. 37 When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. 38 “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!” 39 But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, “Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!” 40 He replied, “If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!” 41 But as he came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, he began to weep. 42 “How I wish today that you of all people would understand the way to peace. But now it is too late, and peace is hidden from your eyes. 43 Before long your enemies will build ramparts against your walls and encircle you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will crush you into the ground, and your children with you. Your enemies will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize it when God visited you.”
5 “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”
May you realize more deeply what prayer is and gain the strength to put it into practice in your daily life as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
Today is Palm/Passion Sunday, the very last Sunday in Lent. And, we are about to finish the Lenten sermon series by listening to the voices of Day 39 reading of Draw the Circle titled “Holy Ground” and the third song of the cantata “Hosanna in the Streets.”
This morning, we read two different readings. But, they have an image in common. What is that? Taking off something they wear. First, Moses takes off his sandals. “Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up. Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?” God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” He said, “Yes? I’m right here!” God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground. […] I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. […] The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt”” (Exodus 3:1-10, The Message).
While Moses put off the shoes from his feet at Mount Horeb, what was happening there?
First of all, we need to know what it means to take off shoes. Well, in Korea, we traditionally don’t wear shoes at home because we have floor culture. We typically sit, eat, study, talk, or sleep on the floor though people now have a couch, bed, or dining set at home. I heard that people still wear shoes at home in the U.S. before coming here. But well, it turned out that’s not always the case. In any case, the reason that we remove shoes at an entrance is basically to keep the floor or the carpet clean. But, that was not the reason Moses took off his sandals. As Pastor Batterson mentions in Day 39 reading, “[I]t was an act of humility […]. It was a way of acknowledging absolute dependence on God. It was a way of removing any obstacle that could get in the way of God and Moses.” In other words, while removing sandals, Moses got ready to listen humbly to God.
Now, God is addressing Moses. And, God is giving him orders. Though he first resisted being chosen as Israel’s leader, as we know, he eventually obeyed God’s orders unto death. As a result, this person who took off his sandals on the holy ground is now remembered as a prime example of a person used as a powerful instrument in God’s hands. As the hymn “Blessed Assurance” describes, there was perfect submission, perfect delight, and whispers of love right there. Filled with God’s goodness, Moses was lost in God’s love throughout his life.
Then now, let’s turn our eyes to the “Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem” scene. “As [Jesus rode into the city], the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street. Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places” (Luke 19:36-38)!
Here we see the excited crowd who took off their garments and then spread them out for Jesus. What’s going on here? Why did they do so?
“Spreading garments out for someone to walk on was more than an act of chivalry,” said Brian Phillips. “[It] was an act of submission paid to royalty. The only other time this is done in Scripture […] is in 2nd Kings 9:13 – “Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, ‘Jehu is king.’” So, did the crowd get ready to listen to Jesus and obey him by taking off their cloaks and spread them out?
I wish they could have done so. Unfortunately, the crowd was not like Moses. They took a different path. Those who praised Jesus who was entering Jerusalem, before long, turned into those who shouted, “Crucify him!” What happened to them in that short time? Jehu whom I mentioned above was the tenth King of the northern kingdom of Israel. He killed a great number of people who rebelled against God. It is for him that their ancestors took off their clothes and spread them out. So, they may have anticipated that Jesus would be like Jehu when they laid down their cloaks. In other words, they mistook Jesus for a general who would save them from the Roman Empire. But later, they realized that Jesus was not the person they had wanted and betrayed him in the end. Judas is a typical example. When they took off their garments, they didn’t want to get orders from Jesus but to give orders to him. Jesus should have been the one who acts on their wishes. They were excited but were not interested in what Jesus was sent to do. They welcomed Jesus but didn’t listen to him.
To sum up the two different stories, even when we take off our shoes or cloaks, that is to say, when we believe that we are ready to rely on and listen to God, we still can choose whether we will receive orders from God or, ironically, give orders to God.
But, you know, prayer provides us with a space in which we are changed, not we change God. Therefore, it’s still important for us to stand on the holy ground where we can take off our spiritual shoes. In other words, we need to stop and listen to God in our daily life. The holy ground doesn’t have to be a remote place like Mount Horeb. Also, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a quiet place which has nobody but you. It can be your workplace, home, school, or even the street you walk on because God speaks to us every time and everywhere. You may have already noticed them, but Dawn, Joyce, Darla, Susan, and Luella created the beautiful Stations of the Cross for this Holy Week. Each station can also be the holy ground on which you can take off your shoes. As Pastor Batterson says, the reason that God appeared to Moses particularly in a burning bush is simply “to show that no place is devoid of God’s presence, not even a bush on the backside of the desert.” God keeps talking to us in whatever way. Thus, the holy ground is not what God needs but what we need in order to hear God’s voice. Let us give us an opportunity to receive orders from God in prayers. Day 39 reading provides some examples of what we have talked about. You can read them. Then, what about you? What orders are you getting from God? What does God ask you to do for the family, neighbors, community and the world?
We have spent time studying and practicing prayer during Lent this year. Thank you, Richard for suggesting the book Draw the Circle. I appreciate Christian Education Committee again choosing it as a church-wide Lenten reading. Also, I’m grateful to you all for enjoying reading the book not only alone but also together with others in a small group. Our Lenten journey ends this coming Saturday, and we are going to meet the risen Christ next Sunday. But, our journey of prayer will never end. Why don’t you receive orders from God every moment as C. S. Lewis suggests? “[T]he very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting [God] work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.” May the Lord always guide your steps in your daily life. Amen.
 . Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 219.
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
May you realize more deeply what prayer is and gain the strength to put it into practice in your daily life as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
Today’s sermon is related to Day 23 reading of Draw the Circle titled “Not Now” and the fifth song of the cantata “King of Suffering.”
We have been told that God’s response to our prayers will be ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Wait.’ We all are familiar with that concept. And, if only the answer were always yes. But, we know that is not the case in reality. Maybe we experience God who says no first but yes, in the end, more than God who always says yes. This is what we are told in Day 23 reading of Draw the Circle: “When God says no to a prayer, it doesn’t always mean no; sometimes it means not yet.” But also, we definitely experience God who only answers no to our prayers.
When God says no, we tend to check whether our motives were wrong. James 4:3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” If we realize we asked wrongly, it will be far easier to accept God’s no.
But, you know, do we experience God’s no because we always ask wrongly? No. Recall what you ask God for in your ordinary lives. Most often, we pray for the needs of our family and community, personal guidance in crises, our health and wellness, safety in our daily tasks or travel, success in our work, school, or relationships, a sense of peace, etc. Are we who pray all those prayers too selfish? No. Those are just daily prayers of all who need God’s help. So, when God answers no to such prayers, we are easily frustrated, disappointed, or even shocked. You may have experienced the followings: We asked God to remove something that makes us stressful. But, nothing happened. We prayed for successful outcomes. But, what was waiting for us was just a failure. You know, when we heard that Jinhee’s father who had been healthy was suddenly diagnosed with cancer, we started to pray for his recovery eagerly. But, after six months, he left us. And, we were lost for words. Did we all ask God for something that we must not ask for? No. Even though we didn’t pray with wrong motives, our prayers were sometimes not heard. As a result, we felt like God had abandoned us. We felt like we were alone.
“The Bible gives us many examples of people who [felt abandoned]. Abram felt that God’s promise of an heir had gone unheeded (Gen. 15:2-3). The psalmist felt ignored in his trouble (Ps. 10:1). Job’s troubles were so great that he thought God might even kill him (Job 13:15).” The death of Jesus on the cross is also a typical example of it. In Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Did Jesus ask for what he was not allowed to ask for? As a person, he also desired not to die but to live. But eventually, Jesus died. Though his death made our salvation possible, he died. God did not save Jesus’ life. God abandoned Jesus.
As farmers wait for the rain, we wait for God’s yes. We look forward to the end of the agonizing wait. But, we sometimes end up facing no rain.
But at this point, why don’t we rethink about waiting? Today’s second reading shows us another image: The wait which leads to God’s creative yes that we may not expect. Day 23 reading of Draw the Circle starts with Acts 1:4 which says, “On one occasion, while Jesus [who rose from the dead] was eating with [the disciples], he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” This wait does not mean that you will receive what you ask for if you wait. It’s a totally different kind of wait. The disciples didn’t know what would happen later. As Pastor Batterson says, “[They didn’t] plan Pentecost. It’s not like Peter woke up on the day of Pentecost and had “speaking in tongues” on his to-do list. He didn’t plan on baptizing three thousand people that day.” They just waited as Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went by faith, even though he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). Then, what happened? The Holy Spirit came to rest on them, and their new journey started. Their wait in faith led to an entirely new result that they couldn’t even imagine.
In that regard, we can reconsider Jesus’ death as well. God said no to Jesus’ prayer. But, as we know, that was not the end. Something new took place. The cross which used to be the Roman instrument of execution became a symbol of hope for everyone in the end.
Even if God doesn’t remove something that makes us stressful, we may able to learn how to let go of anxious thoughts. Even if we fail again, we may be able to see the countless miracles that already surrounded us. We are still very saddened by my father-in-law’s death. But surprisingly, looking back upon the past two years, some problems that Jinhee’s family was dealing with have been solved. God may not answer our prayers in the way we hope for. But, God will ultimately say yes to our prayers in God’s unique way.
In Day 12 reading, Pastor Batterson compares a prayer with a seed, saying, “Each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations. In fact, our prayers bear fruit forever. Even when we die, our prayers don’t. Each prayer takes on a life, an eternal life, of its own.”  In this regard, again, God’s response to our prayer is ultimately creative yes all the time though it seems to be no at first glance.
I would like to conclude the sermon with the prayer that is known as a prayer an American missionary prayed in Korea around one hundred years ago: “Lord, nothing is visible at this moment. Lord, you have planted us on this barren and poor land, where not even a single tree can grow tall enough. It is such a miracle that we could come to this land across the wide, wide Pacific Ocean. Nothing is visible, though, in this land on which we seem to have been dropped off by your hand. Only stubbornly stained darkness can be seen. Only Korean people chained with poverty and superstition can be seen. They don’t even know why they are chained, what suffering is. They just distrust us and express anger to us as we tell them how to take away their suffering, which is not suffering to them. The thoughts of Korean men are not visible. The mind of this government is not visible. We are afraid that we may not have any more opportunity to see the women commuting on Kama, which is a cart carried by men. And we do not see what to do. Yet, Lord! We will obey. We believe that you begin your work as we humbly obey, and that the day will come when our spiritual eyes will see your work, according to your Words, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). We believe that we will see the future of the faith of Korea. Although we are as if standing on a desert with bare hands, although we are condemned to be Western devils, we believe that the day will come when they will rejoice with tears realizing that they are one with our spirit in Christ, and that we all have one Kingdom and one Father in Heaven. Although there is no church to worship you, no school to study, although this land is filled with doubt of suspicion, contempt, and disdain, we believe that in the near future this land will become a land of blessing.”
The missionary’s prayer was not answered when he or she was alive. But, it didn’t dissipate. It finally bloomed and bore fruit. So, South Korea, which used to receive God’s love from foreign missionaries, has been turned into a country which shares God’s love with so many people around the world. And, I also came here to serve you.
In conclusion, prayer is accepting God’s no. But, that’s not the end. Prayer is looking forward to God’s ultimate, creative yes with faith even after accepting God’s no. Amen.
 . Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 129.
Text: John 13:4-17, Judges 6:37-38 Title: Prayer: Remembering God Who Makes Provision
4 [S]o he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
37 [L]ook, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.
May you realize more deeply what prayer is and gain the strength to put it into practice in your daily life as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
Today is 3rd Sunday in Lent. We have been thinking of the themes of both the book Draw the Circle and the cantata Come, Touch the Robe that our choir is going to sing on Palm Sunday in a sermon during Lent this year. What we are going to deal with today is Day 22 reading of Draw the Circle titled “Prayer Fleece” and the fourth song of the cantata “Wash Their Feet.”
The key point of Day 22 reading is “When God gives a vision, [God] always makes provision.” When you hear the expression “make provision,” you may recall two different meanings which are closely related to each other though. First of all, to make provision means “to provide.” What is the vision of God’s plan that God has given to all who follow Jesus? As we know, we’ve been called to serve one another as Jesus served us. Then, does God give us nothing and just force us to serve others? If we remember the previous sermon series, we are reminded that God has already given us gifts and talents with which we can serve others. We have been given the new name “beloved,” various spiritual gifts, and the church family with whom we can serve the community and the world together. God has provided us with many gifts and then sent us to serve all the people we see. Thus, if we restate the main point of Day 22 reading, when God reveals God’s plan to us, God also provides what we need.
The story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet is one of the best examples of it. “Jesus knew that the night before Passover would be his last night on earth before leaving this world to return to the Father’s side. All throughout his time with his disciples, Jesus had demonstrated a deep and tender love for them. And now he longed to show them the full measure of his love. During their evening meal, Jesus suddenly stood up and took off his outer robe, and took a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ dirty feet and dry them with his towel. After washing their feet, Jesus said to them, “Now you should follow the example that I’ve set for you and wash one another’s dirty feet. Now do for each other what I have just done for you”” (John 13:1-15, The Passion Translation). What washing the feet means is not our primary concern in today’s sermon. What’s important is this: Jesus was about to send his disciples whom he loved on a mission to wash others’ feet. But, before sending them, Jesus first washed their feet.
God is inviting us to work with God. But, God knows what we need and serves as our provider first. When we find comfort and peace, God says, “[D]o not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). Do you need encouragement? You who hope in the Lord will renew your strength. You will soar on wings like eagles; you will run and not grow weary, you will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). When we feel as if we lost everything, the Bible reminds us of Habakkuk’s prayer: “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). Likewise, God provides what we need when God gives a vision.
Then, what is the other meaning of the expression “make provision”? As you know, it is to prepare, ready, equip. Thus, the main point of Day 22 reading “When God gives a vision, [God] always makes provision” can also be understood in this way: God provides to prepare us for God’s work.
It is natural that we thank God for every gift God has given us. But, it may seem unnatural that we think of the plan of the giver more than we enjoy the gifts. That is why Jesus, while washing the disciples’ feet, said to Peter, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter may have only focused on what Jesus was doing and may not have understood why Jesus was doing that.
But later, he clearly understood that Jesus had washed his feet to equip him for service. As we see in the Book of Acts, Peter healed people, cast out demons, and proclaimed the Gospel to everyone, even to the Gentiles as his teacher did. And eventually, as we read in 1 Peter 4:7-10, he says, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Yes, Peter realized that God provided to prepare him for God’s ministry.
Pastor Batterson gives the story of Gideon as an example of it. When God called Gideon, he asked God to show him a sign so that he could be sure of God’s call. “Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water. Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew” (Judges 6:36-40). Yes. God answered Gideon’s prayers. God provided what he needed. Why? That’s because God wanted to equip Gideon to save Israel.
Let me share my story. As you already know, I graduated from a music college in Korea in 2005 and flew to New York to achieve my dream to be a concert pianist. But, I suddenly got sick. So, I had to come back to Korea to get treatment. On the flight back to Korea, I just felt like a failure. During treatments, God again called me to pastoral ministry. So, I didn’t go back to New York and instead entered a seminary in Korea. But, even when I started to serve as a pastor for the first time, I was still fighting with a sense of failure. The fact that I left the field of music, in which I had been for about 20 years, continued to make me feel deprived. But, God also persisted in mending my broken heart. God continually helped me to realize that I was given musical talent to benefit others and had been prepared to use it in my ministry. It was a paradigm shift. So, since then, I have been serving my congregations using my musical talent.
When the great painter Benjamin West was a young boy he decided to draw a picture of his sister. He got out bottles of ink and succeeded in making a mess. When his mother got home she said, “What a beautiful picture,” and kissed him. Later in life he said, “That kiss made me a painter.” Beautiful story, isn’t it? That’s right. Jesus washed Peter’s feet, and that action later made Peter the Great Apostle. God answered Gideon’s bizarre requests, and that response made Gideon the savior of Israel. God gave me musical talent, and that talent made me a pastor playing the piano. Whatever situation we are in, God trusts us and cheers for us. Let’s remember how God has blessed us and then be a blessing to others.
Lastly, here is the most important thing we should be reminded of again. We know God supplies every need of ours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19, English Standard Version). But, the most essential provision of God is God’s presence itself. Let us listen to Pastor Batterson say, “When God called Gideon to become a judge in Israel, he was filled with insecurity. […] But I love God’s answer: “I will be with you.” That’s all we need to know, isn’t it? If we could come to grips with two fundamental truths, they would transform our lives: God is with us, and God is for us. That is all you ever need to know. God is with you, and God is for you.” Yes. God is always with us; we lack nothing. But, let’s not stop there. Let’s go further. I hope we can see God’s vision given to us along with the promise of God’s presence. In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus said, “[G]o and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God is always with us so that we can work with God for God’s glory.
So friends, in summary, prayer is remembering God who always makes provision, that is to say, who provides us with many gifts in order to prepare us for God’s work. Amen.
 . Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 128.
Text: Matthew 27:32-44, Colossians 4:2 Title: Prayer: Seeing the World As We Are
32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews.
38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
May you realize more deeply what prayer is and gain the strength to put it into practice in your daily life as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
Today is Second Sunday in Lent. As we all are reading the book Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge written by Mark Batterson during this Lenten season, and our choir is planning on singing the cantata Come, Touch the Robe on Palm Sunday, I am inviting you to rethink about and practice prayer that Pastor Batterson addresses in his book in light of the narratives of the cantata. So last Sunday, we first listened to him say, “If we want to see God move, we need to make a move” as we witnessed the bleeding woman take steps of faith after praying. Today, we are going to deal with Day 11 reading of Draw the Circle titled “First-Class Noticer” and the sixth song of the cantata “Soldiers of the Cross” that sings about the soldiers who “nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes” (Matthew 27:35, CEV).
In Day 11 reading, Pastor Batterson lets us focus on the word “watchful” which is used in Colossians 4:2 saying, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (NIV). And, he says that “[w]e become God’s watchmen” when we pray. In other words, “Prayer is the difference between seeing with our physical eyes and seeing with our spiritual eyes. Prayer gives us a God’s-eye view.” Simply put, we can see everything, everyone through God’s eyes by being in prayer. Pastor Batterson tells us about a concept of “first-class noticers” quoting Warren Bennis, the renowned leadership expert. First-class noticers “pay close attention to what is happening around them. They see things that others miss and understand when to dig deeper so that they can make informed decisions about whether action is appropriate.” In this regard, Pastor Batterson says, “Prayer turns us into first-class noticers. It helps us see what God wants us to notice. The more you pray, the more you notice; the less you pray, the less you notice. […] When you pray for someone or something, […] [y]ou start noticing anything related to those prayers.”
You have had such an experience, haven’t you? Let us look back on our lives. For example, when we started to pray for someone who was mourning for the death of his or her loved one, God suddenly let us notice that they needed food and words of comfort. So, we brought those things to them at once. Later, they told us that they really needed them at that time, and we satisfied their needs. Here is another example. We experienced a moment when we felt like we were useless. Maybe our family or friends made us feel like that. Finally, we couldn’t overcome that feeling by our own strength. So, we prayed. Then, God helped us to notice what we needed to know about ourselves. God told us what nobody told us: “You are precious. Your presence itself is valuable. You don’t have to do something amazing. You are just my beloved.” What do these examples tell us? Prayer has an effect on how we understand what’s happening around us.
Pastor Batterson says, “We don’t see the world as it is; we see the world as we are. That’s why prayer is so critical. It’s a way of seeing reality.” So, who are we who see the world as we are? We are ones who have become God’s beloved children by God’s grace. And, we are ones who are waiting for Christ to return. Living between when we are saved and when Jesus will come again, we are praying that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In other words, we, as those who pray, see the world in a new way. Even if we look at the same thing, the same situation, the same person, we who pray don’t see them as they are but discover something new in and through them.
We can find evidence of it if we contrast the story of the bleeding woman that I told you last Sunday and today’s story of the soldiers beneath the cross of Jesus. In both stories, they are seeking for the same thing. What is it? Jesus’ garments. Both the bleeding woman and the soldiers are looking at the clothes that Jesus wore. They see the same thing. But, the soldiers see it as it is. For them, Jesus’ robe was just an extra benefit. Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified. So, the governor’s soldiers stripped him and nailed him to the cross. And then, they divided his clothes by casting lots to determine who would get his clothes. “The clothes of executed criminals were the [bonus for] the soldiers on duty.” They just understood Jesus’ clothes as an additional income. But, the bleeding woman sees Jesus’ robe not as it is but as she is. In other words, as she prayed, God helped her to see it from a new perspective. So, she noticed that “[t]he robe was just a piece of cloth, [but] when Christ was present, there flowed a great healing power.” So, she touched the hem of his robe and was instantly healed. In short, when we pray, God opens our eyes so that we can interpret what is happening around us from a new angle.
Here are more examples of that. Acts 16:6-8 says, “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.” What was happening around them? They were continually prevented from going where they wanted to go. Their plans failed. But, they were not disappointed. Rather they prayed. Verses 9-10 says, “During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, [they] got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called [them] to preach the gospel to [Macedonians].” Yes. When they prayed, God opened their eyes so that they could notice that there was a new road that lay ahead to which God was about to lead them.
We are told in Matthew 26:36-39, “Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. When they got there, he told them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Jesus took along Peter and the two brothers, James and John. He was very sad and troubled, and he said to them, “I am so sad that I feel as if I am dying. Stay here and keep awake with me.” Jesus walked on a little way. Then he knelt with his face to the ground and [started to pray], “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me suffer by having me drink from this cup.” What was happening around him? He as a human being was struggling with obeying God. He became anguished and distressed (Matthew 26:37, NLT). But, Jesus’ prayer did not end there. Rather, he concluded his prayer by saying, “But do what you want, and not what I want.” Yes. When Jesus prayed, God opened his eyes to help him notice that he could fulfill God’s plan to save us by obeying God.
While preparing today’s sermon, God reminded me of one of my experiences that I have forgotten. Now I can share it with you. Well, we moved to Burlington in June last year. The Great Plains Conference reimburses pastors for their moving expenses. The moving company charged me 1,100 dollars in total, and I paid 500 dollars down on my moving day. And the conference sent me a 500-dollar check and was supposed to pay the remainder. So far so good. However, I don’t know why but there was no communication between the moving company and the conference for about a month. So, at the end of July, one of the movers contacted me and asked me to pay the remainder. So, I did it. And, I shouldn’t have done that. It turned out that the conference also sent a 600-dollar check to the moving company. So, I immediately called the mover several times to ask him to refund money, but I couldn’t get through to him. The moving company said they also had lost contact with him. I suddenly realized that I had been swindled. I was bewildered and actually didn’t know what to do at that time. I was not even able to think that I could let my District Superintendent or the church know about that situation. All I could do was just pray. I just kept praying that God helped me to focus on getting acquainted with my new congregation even in such a situation. And I struggled to forget about it. 600 dollars was not a small amount of money for my family. But, I chose to think I tipped the mover 600 dollars additionally. I thought he might have needed it. I poured out my heart to the Lord over and over again. Then one day, God enabled me to banish all troubles from my mind by making me notice something different that also happened to me in June, July, and August last year. All of a sudden, God led my wife and me to recall how Burlington UMC family had helped us to settle into a new town. Judy Stukey and the members of the Board of Trustees had prepared the beautiful parsonage for us. Jane Griffith put a welcome pizza in the refrigerator at the parsonage for us on our moving day. Luella Masters brought tasty meatballs, bread, and salad to us when we were still unpacking after moving. Barb Merry brought a map of Burlington and taught me how to read it. Johnny Freeman helped us in moving a mattress and dining sets from Lawrence and Kansas City by using a trailer. Terry Emmons gave us tomatoes he grew several times, so we ate lots of spaghetti with fresh tomato throughout the summer. The Caldwell and Wright family helped us in carrying the piano which I got for 10 dollars at the city-wide garage sale. Richard Croll helped us to buy another car when we needed it. We realized that, even though we had a bad experience at that time, we also had lots of good Samaritans who helped us. So, we gradually forgot the incident. Yes. When I prayed, God opened my eyes so that I could see the countless miracles that already surrounded me.
Friends, as Pastor Batterson says, we don’t see the world as it is. But, God encourages us to see the world as we are. When we devote ourselves to prayer, we will see what God wants us to notice. We will see what’s happening around us in a new way. We will see the ordinary miracles surrounding us. And we will see the Lord who is still working for us. Amen.
 . Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 67.
Text: Luke 8:40-56, Mark 16:20 Title: Prayer: Making a Move
40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.” 49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.” 50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” 51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.” 53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.
20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
May you realize more deeply what prayer is and gain the strength to put it into practice in your daily life as you listen to God’s Word proclaimed at this time.
First of all, thank you all for joining us for a brief live stream worship service last Sunday on which we finished our seven-week worship series. We started it by remembering the gifts God has given us and wrapped it up by reminding ourselves that we are called to use those gifts not only for our church family but also all the people we see in our community. And the Lenten journey this year just began. We all are encouraged to focus on prayer during this special season. And I believe that it is through prayer that we can receive the power and wisdom from God to use our gifts and talents for others.
I’m also planning on preaching about prayer during Lent. I’m gonna share some of the important points dealt with in the book Draw the Circle that will especially challenge us to pray for forty days. But, I also wanted to relate it to the themes of Lent. So, I decided to mix the theme of the book Draw the Circle with the narratives of the cantata Come, Touch the Robe that our choir is planning on singing on Palm Sunday, April 14th. So, simply put, we are going to look at how the stories of the cantata shed light on prayer about which Draw the Circle talks.
So first, we are going to address the day 7 reading of Draw the Circle titled “Put on Waders” and the first song of the cantata Come, Touch the Robe whose lyrics are about a bleeding woman we see in today’s text. The day 7 of Draw the Circle starts with Mark 16:20 which says, “The disciples [of Jesus] went forth and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” And then, Pastor Batterson, the author of the book, invites us to think of something important about prayer, saying, “We wish it said “signs preceding.” We want God to go first. That way we don’t need to exercise any faith at all. We’ve got it backward. If we want to see God move, we need to make a move. […] We can pray until our knees are numb, but if our praying isn’t accompanied by acting, then we won’t get anywhere.” His saying reminded me of the “Leap of Faith” scene from the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Indiana took a first step of faith out into thin air. And he found that there was already a bridge there. Prayer is essential. But, taking a step in faith after praying is more essential in our life.
Pastor Batterson tells us a story of the Israelite priests stepping into the Jordan River (Joshua chapter 3) as an example. On the way to the Promised Land, Moses had died, and Joshua became a new leader of the Israelites. Then Joshua secretly sent two men to spy out the land. After the spies came back, they were sure that the Lord had given them the whole land. But, there was a problem: the Jordan River in front of them. Joshua prayed. Then what? He decided to cross the river. Ha! But, here they experienced another miracle. As soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. And all the people crossed the river. Pastor Batterson says, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like getting my feet wet. I’d much rather have God part the river, and then I’ll step into the miracle. That way I don’t get my feet wet, but if we aren’t willing to get our feet wet, we’ll never walk through parted rivers on dry ground.”
In Luke chapter 8, we also meet a woman who was willing to get her feet wet, that is to say, to take a first step in faith after praying. Actually, today’s text begins with a man named Jairus, who came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter was dying. But, all of a sudden, a woman appears in the scene. She had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She’d suffered for so long, hadn’t she? What were you doing in 2007? And, what have you accomplished for the past twelve years? I bet many things have happened to each of us. Looking back on my life, I was sick in late 2006. But, unlike the bleeding woman, I was healed and greeted 2007 in good health. Since then, I have been married, ordained, moved to Kansas, graduated from another seminary, served the UMCs in other towns, and started to serve in Burlington UMC. But, what about her? Her life had only been sheer hell for twelve years. She had lived like the living dead.
Then one day, she heard about a man named Jesus. People told her he healed the sick, cast out demons, and even raised a person from the dead. Once she heard about him, she had no choice. She started to pray fervently that she could meet Jesus. But, that’s not all she did. She made a move. The Bible doesn’t say where she comes from. She may have traveled long distances. Anyhow, she finally saw Jesus on the road. Though she never tried to speak to him, she made her way through the crowd to Jesus to kneel by his side. She kneeled and, in faith, touched his robe, just the hem of his robe. And, she was healed.
But, if we reread this text in connection with the Jewish law found in the Old Testament, we may realize again how great the move she made was. Though, in our times, we don’t consider that we are religiously unclean because of uterine bleeding any longer, the ancient Jewish society believed that all of them make people unclean as we see in Leviticus chapter 15 which says, “‘When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period or has a discharge that continues beyond her period, she will be unclean as long as she has the discharge, just as in the days of her period. Any bed she lies on while her discharge continues will be unclean, as is her bed during her monthly period, and anything she sits on will be unclean, as during her period. Whoever touches them will be unclean.” According to this law, the bleeding of the woman in today’s text “makes her unclean. So besides suffering this messy, painful, weakening physical condition that all her money spent on doctors has not cured, she is ‘unclean’ as well. This means that her husband (and maybe children?) cannot eat food she has cooked, cannot sit on chairs upon which she has sat, cannot touch her even, without becoming ‘unclean’ themselves!” She had not been permitted to interact with others as well. I assume that the doctors she met may have also refused to meet her. That’s why she had to see “many” doctors (Mark 5:26). She had been isolated.
But, she made a move. Even getting out of her house to meet Jesus was a big step of faith. And, she eventually touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak. No. No. She wasn’t supposed to do that. How can an unclean woman touch Jesus, the Holy One of God? In the end, Jesus became unclean because she touched him, didn’t he? No. “[R]ather than the Lord Jesus becoming unclean and contaminated by her, she is healed and purified by the holy power that resides in him!” According to the law, she was unclean. But, by the grace of God was she accepted.
Friends, if we want to see God move, let’s make a move. When the sick woman prayed and touched the hem of Jesus’ robe, she was instantly healed. When Joshua prayed, and the feet of the Israelite priests who were carrying the ark touched the water at Jordan River’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. Then, what move will you make? What step of faith will you take while praying? If you are praying for a better relationship with someone, you can first extend an olive branch. If you are praying for more people to be saved, you can start sharing the good news with them. If you are asking God to fill you with love, you can try to show compassion and hospitality to others. Friends, what move will you make if you want to see God move?
 . Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 51.
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
37 The next day, when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him. 38 A man in the crowd called out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child. 39 A spirit seizes him and he suddenly screams; it throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It scarcely ever leaves him and is destroying him. 40 I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.”
41 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”
42 Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the impure spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
May you hear the voice of Jesus who calls you to be a faithful disciple wherever you are as you listen to God’s Word which is proclaimed.
I grew up in a Methodist church in Korea. Even though Korean Methodists are rooted in the Wesleyan tradition, they are open to the Pentecostal tradition as well. In other words, individuals eagerly seek to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Many of them believe that speaking in tongues is one of the pieces of clear evidence for having the Holy Spirit. I also remember that I spoke in tongues for the first time when I was a high school student. I was just amazed. I lost myself in the presence of the Holy Spirit at that moment. As I recall, I prayed in tongues for more than one hour. It was wonderful for me to be there. Like Peter who witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on a mountain, I wanted to make shelters as memorials there. It was a real wow moment.
But, that day was special not because it was an unusual, strange moment but because it was the moment when I heard God’s voice clearly saying, “I love you. You are my precious child. No matter what you have done, no matter who you are, you are my beloved.” It’s because of that voice that my eyes were full of tears. It’s because of that voice that I was reminded of my new identity in God. We may easily focus on a change in Jesus’ appearance in today’s text. But, what’s more important in this amazing moment is that Jesus was reminded of his identity. We are told in verses 34-36, “While Peter was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone.” “[T]he divine voice pronounces the fullest answer to the question of Jesus’ identity […]. Jesus is both the unique son and the chosen Servant in whom God delighted and through whom God would bring salvation to the nations.”
I’m sure that you also have experienced the presence of God in various ways in your life. Some of you felt the Holy Spirit through speaking in tongues like me, some of you through reading the Bible, some of you through the love and hospitality others show to you, some of you through worship or a small group experience, and so on. But, no matter how we meet God in your life, there is one and the same voice we all hear: “You are my beloved.” Such God’s voice always encourages and strengthens us. And we think that should be enough.
But, the story of Jesus’ transfiguration does not end on the mountaintop. It is soon followed by a story of Jesus who heals a demon-possessed boy after coming down from the mountain. Why did Jesus have to cure the boy? It was because his disciples who had been at the foot of the mountain could not drive out evil spirits while Jesus was on top of the mountain. So, eventually, Jesus replied, “You unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you and put up with you” (Luke 9:41)?
You may wonder why Jesus called the disciples “unbelieving and perverse generation.” What did he mean by that? First of all, we can easily conclude that the story of Jesus’ transfiguration tells us that we need to not only have a mountaintop experience, that is, a joyful, amazing experience of God’s presence but also come down from the mountain and return to our ordinary life to live out God’s will. I agree with the conclusion. But, if we reread the text, we can find that the disciples who were on the mountaintop with Jesus were not the same with the disciples who were asked to heal the demon-possessed boy. And, these two stories rapidly and ultimately turn our attention to Jesus’ followers who were spending time with others in their daily lives. Those disciples also had experienced God’s amazing presence through Jesus’ life and ministry. They witnessed Jesus who was feeding five thousand people, walking on the sea, turning water into wine, healing so many folks, etc., etc. They had already had so many mountaintop experiences with Jesus even though they were under the mountain while Jesus was on the mountain in today’s reading. And, Jesus wanted them to live like him even when they were not with him. But, unfortunately, they could do nothing. Maybe they had no power to heal the boy. Or maybe they refused to cure the boy. We don’t know why they couldn’t do that like Jesus. What’s important is that the grace of God, the love of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit were not revealed through them to others.
Now, what does this account tell us? We are gathered to have a mountaintop experience through which we are filled with God’s love, hope, grace, and encouragement. But, at the same time, we are scattered to spend far more time under the mountain. It is there that we are asked to love, to heal, to serve, to show compassion and hospitality, to live like Jesus even when Jesus is still on the mountaintop. Friends who are beloved, you are gifted. We are called to use those gifts for each other in our church. But, we are also called to use them for all the people we see in our town and the world. We need to keep asking what they need. We need to keep sharing God’s love without condition. We should continue to serve where we are in our ordinary lives. That’s what we followers of Jesus are called to do under the mountain.
Now, let me conclude Greater Gifts and See All the People worship series. We started our seven-week worship series with the voice Jesus heard from heaven when he was baptized which said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). Now we are about to conclude the series with the voice Jesus heard from the cloud on a mountain, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him” (Luke 9:35). This identity of Jesus is repeated by the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus on the cross. They said, “Surely he was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54)! The voice Jesus heard from God from when he started his ministry to when he finished it was always the same: “You are my precious child.” Folks, God always calls you “my beloved” as well. Now, let us continually help all the people we see in our lives to be aware that they are also God’s beloved by using the gifts God has given us. Amen.
 . R. Alan Culpepper, “The Gospel of Luke,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible, ed. Leander E. Keck (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995), 9:206.