“This Little Light of Mine” Stacey Kohl’s Sermon from 8/6

Our Curate Stacey Kohl preached at St. Mark’s on Sunday, August 6th. Her practice is to preach without a text, but afterwards she transcribed it, so we have the best of both worlds.

This Little Light of Mine
Feast of the Transfiguration, Year A
August 6, 2017
Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Peter 1:13-21, Luke 9:28-36


I have to admit; the Feast of the Transfiguration is one of my absolute favorites, in large part because of the passages of Scripture we read. The story of Moses is one that is near and dear to my heart. I am somewhat of an Old Testament nerd and the book of Exodus and Moses’ journey from abandoned child, to prince, to lost shepherd, to found shepherd is one that always grabs me. I also love anytime we see those beautiful stories of the Old Testament, of the Hebrew Bible, reflected back to us in the New Testament. As in today’s reading in Luke when the author of the Luke shows us the way in which Jesus again embodies Moses—embodies this shepherd, this savior, this liberator.

To be honest, I could probably talk about the connections between those two stories for hours and hours but I promise, that’s not what I’m going to do today. Instead, as I read those oh so familiar verses again, I found myself drawn to a different person, to a different character in this story—to Peter.

Now this in itself was a little surprising to me because, to be perfectly honest, Peter is not generally one of my favorite people in Scripture. He’s brash, he’s loud, he runs off half-cocked, he just isn’t one of my favorites. But today…today there’s something about Peter that drew me in. And in part, it was what he wrote in today’s reading from Second Peter. But to understand why I was so drawn into that, we first have to pay attention to the very end of our Gospel reading today.

We have been on top of the mountain with Jesus, and Peter has seen these wonderful things. He’s offered to build dwelling places for Jesus, and Moses, and Elijah. And he has heard the voice of God, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.” And what does Peter do after this incredible mountain top experience with Jesus. Does he run, screaming down the hill, “Listen, everyone! Listen! Listen to what just happened. Moses came and Elijah and Jesus and they were all together and it was incredible and He is the Son of God, we have to tell everyone!”

That’s not what he did at all, is it? The end of the passage says, “They kept silent.” Peter had this incredible mountaintop experience with God and then locked it away inside himself.

I can imagine quite a few reasons whey telling this story would be challenging.

To come running down off a mountain telling people you saw Moses and Elijah—people are going to think you’re a little crazy! He was afraid, perhaps, that people would simply discard him out of hand.

“Peter, you’re seeing things! You’re crazy! Did you have a little too much to drink last night? You’re nuts! God doesn’t show up like that.”

Maybe they would try to explain the experience away.

“That’s not who God really is. God doesn’t behave like that. God doesn’t do that anymore. No, it was something else. It was the way the light was playing off the shadows of the trees, you just thought you saw it. And then that storm rolled through and you heard the thunder and you just thought you heard God’s voice. That wasn’t real.”

Or those who did believe him but would perhaps have tried to turn it to their own ends.

“Of course that’s what you heard. Of course! Well, you know, I really need somebody like you on my side; in my cause. We’re getting ready to sharpen our swords and head out in revolt against Rome. C’mon with us, let’s go.”

And so suddenly this moment for Peter becomes challenging.

How do you talk about it? How do you talk about an encounter with God? How do you tell people what God has done in your life when faced with those potential reactions?

But it is that very challenge that Peter eventually overcomes. And we know he overcomes it because he writes about it. And even in the way in which he writes it in Second Peter, you can tell this isn’t the first time he’s telling this story. He’s told this story before…many, many, many times.

As I read the passage from Second Peter and thought on it, a song kept coming into my mind. I will admit I’m not the musician in our family, but I’m going to sing it anyway.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Peter realized that the responses of all those other people, the denial, the confusion, the anger, or even acceptance, weren’t his to own. What was his to own was his story; was his experience with a holy God. And what was also his to own was the telling of that story—was the stepping out in faith and saying “God, I don’t know if people are going to believe me. I don’t know if they’re going to think I’m nuts. I don’t know if they’re going to dismiss me, but I’m going to tell them. I’m going to tell them how you have moved in my life. I’m going to tell them about the new person I have become by knowing you. I’m going to tell them those mountaintop moments where I stood and heard your voice and I’m also going to tell them about that time, while Jesus was on trial, when I denied him. I’m going to tell them my story because it’s your story. It’s our story.”

Each of us has those moments, those mountaintop experiences, those valleys; they are our story and God’s story.

Who are you telling your story to?

Who needs to hear who God is in your life?


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