Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman, Transitional Senior Minister
First Congregational Church of Stamford
Sermon for Transfiguration Sunday/Legacy Sunday
3 March 2019
Text: Luke 9:28-36
The Bible tells us that a great flood once covered the earth. Noah, his family, and two of every animal on the earth took rode out a 40 day storm in a gigantic boat called an ark. After the rain had stopped and the waters receded, God put a rainbow in the sky as a seal of God’s promise to protect the natural cycles and season of life on this planet. God said in God’s heart: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).
The pomp and circumstance of this service might give the impression that something unusual and grand is happening today. Indeed, this is a historic moment in the life of First Congregational Church of Stamford. This is only the seventh time in this church’s 384 year history that the congregation has sought a new building. Nevertheless, as a congregation, we have done this before. Historic moves of this kind are a part of our spiritual DNA. They are a big reason why we have been able to continue as a congregation for as long as we have. So while this is an historic occasion, it’s also an event that’s as common as the passing of the seasons.
Our spiritual ancestors who left Wethersfield to build a log meetinghouse on a site just a quarter mile away from here could not possibly imagine the city that Stamford would become. They would probably also be surprised to find us here in this grand stone building with a fine organ and a choir in robes like the cathedrals they left behind in Europe. First Congregational Church has experienced a number of astounding transfigurations, and we are about to be transfigured again.
Jesus’ disciples were amazed and confused when Jesus’ appearance changed on the mountain. They heard the voice of God. They witnessed Jesus conversing with the prophets of the past. Peter wanted to stay in that magical moment. But as suddenly as that transcendent moment occurred, it was gone and they were once again confronted with the mundane task of following their master and healing the world person by person, season by season, step by step, moment by moment.
So, too, for us today we are confronted with the poignant truth of human existence: each moment is unique and precious, never to be repeated, lost forever to the insatiable maw of time. We grieve that loss just as the disciples grieved Jesus’ death, just as we grieve moving from this place that contains so many memories. Nevertheless, we are comforted in knowing that just as the earth endures, so too, are we as a congregation simply passing through another season, a season of change, no doubt, a season of loss, yes, but also a season of hope. Just as the transfiguration was a preview of Jesus’ resurrection, so, too, will we pass through this season of change into the promise of new life.