top of page

5/26/24 Sermon

View today's sermon on our YouTube channel:

2 Peter 1:16-18

New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.

Matthew 28:16-20

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

There is much to wonder about, always, when considering our scriptures. This week, I wonder about the mountain referenced in both scriptures. Where was it? I wonder if you could envision this happening on Schoodic Mountain, or Cadillac Mountain, or Tunk Mountain? Do you sometimes consider that these mountains have been holy, transformational ground to those who have set foot upon them? 

Did the disciples meet Jesus after his death at the same place where some of them witnessed his Transfiguration only weeks before? My Study Bibles grant two possible locations for the event we know as Jesus’  Transfiguration; either Mount Tabor or Mount Hermon, one South and one North of the Sea of Galilee. The truth is we do not know. And the truth is that the where is not as important as the why

In this case, it is likely to be in a setting that reminds them, and us, of who Jesus is; to place him in a location rich with meaning. This morning we heard the closing words of Matthew’s gospel, which is frequently called “The Great Commission.” The author of the Gospel of Matthew is summarizing their understanding; their belief of not only who Jesus was, but the why of Jesus. 

Our other scripture, from the second letter of Peter, is meant to be read as a first person account of the disciple Simon Peter, the rock on whom the foundation of the church is built. This letter is believed to have been written sometime around the year 65 CE (Common Era), decades earlier than when the Gospel of Matthew is thought to have been written. 

Matthew’s scripture explicitly says, “When they saw him, they worshiped him, but they doubted.” Some of their doubts may have been relieved by being in the same place that he was said to have received God’s blessing the day that those with him saw him transfigured before them, and heard a voice from the heavens say, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (2 Peter 1:17b) The location may have been a not so subtle reminder of the who and why of Jesus. 

Is placing worship and doubt alongside one another contradictory? I do not believe so. I am leading our worship service this morning, I selected the scriptures that Myrna read for us, and yet I have doubt about some of the text. Sometimes there are words in our scriptures that I do not think Jesus would have uttered, such as “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” I can doubt that Jesus said those words and yet believe in their truth. Jesus’ humility would not have permitted him to say these things. Sometimes others must witness to our deeds for us. And sometimes our deeds are not understood until long after they occurred, even sometimes long after one has died. 

Yesterday, at Jane Preble’s graveside service some of you heard me speak of her as a beacon of light. I know this from my observations of her and of the stories I have been told about her life. She would never have said that about herself but I know it to be true. If we want the truth to be known about someone, whether living or dead, we often must speak it ourselves. 

Doug Kimmel will be honored as Hancock Citizen of the Year tomorrow at our Memorial Day gathering on the Village Green. Did Doug nominate himself? No. Did Doug extoll his own accomplishments and ask for this honor? No. His contributions were noticed by one or more townspeople and they spoke these truths for him. 

Eye-witness testimony is paramount to our beliefs. We can infer that Peter is refuting doubts and criticisms when he wrote,  “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)  First person, eye-witness testimony, whether past, present, or future is critical to witnessing Jesus in a new way, after his earthly life, and witnessing the world around us through the eyes of faith. And doubt. 

Why were these particular scriptures selected to be read today? Trinitarian thought is found in these scriptures. Trinitarian thought may have been born from these scriptures. However, Trinitarian theology was not the intent of these scriptures. Trinitarian theology came hundreds of years later, during the fourth century. 

As the life and works of Jesus spread further and further from his homeland of Galilee, and more and more people were trying to grasp the meaning of his life, new explanations were circulated in an effort to comprehend the incomprehensible. 

Jesus was human as evidenced by his bodily presence here on earth. Jesus was also Spirit as witnessed by some after his death and resurrection. How could he be both? Was Jesus God? 

The circular argument of three-in-one and one-in-three is an effort to “prove” that Jesus is of God, and the Holy Spirit is of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is also of God. The myriad ways that our ancestors experienced the Holy were woven into a narrative meant to preserve the unique aspects of the stories, yet join them as one. Tragically, relationships were torn asunder and blood was shed as conversations became heated as to who was right and who was wrong in their understanding of God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.  

Creeds were written after much discussion, argument, and schism. Many of us are familiar with the Nicene Creed, which in part, in its patriarchal language is... 

"We believe in one God… The Father almighty… We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God… We believe in the Holy Spirit, the lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified."

Less familiar is the sixth-century Athanasian Creed, that "We worship one God in trinity, and trinity in unity; neither confounding the persons; nor dividing the essence." We don't know who wrote the Athanasian Creed, but it makes affirmations and denials important to many.

The United Church of Christ has a Statement of Faith which begins with this Trinitarian language… “We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother…” 

Trinitarian thought developed over time, hundreds of years after Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. It is still developing even now, thousands of years later, as we continue living into the work and words of Jesus. Ours is not a stagnant belief. Our thoughts, our beliefs can and do change over time. I would not want it any other way. As we worship a living God we must allow our understanding to grow and flourish with time and circumstance. Creeds are useful for naming broad truths. More important than any creed is naming our own experiences of God and honoring what we know in our own hearts to be true. 

I invite you to worship the Creator of all things seen and unseen with your whole heart, mind, and soul. Remembering that God is with us always, to the end of all time. 

Amen Rev. TJ Mack   May 26, 2024

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page