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Smile for the Camera!

NOTE: While Pastor Charlie is on a trip out of the country through June 5, he has chosen some of his favorite blog posts from his weblog from 2020 to 2021 to share.

From: February 13, 2021

Mark 9:2-9

2Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.   9As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

We have a birthday rule in our house (I borrowed this from a friend). On your birthday, if there is something you want to do OR NOT do, you can simply say “Birthday, Birthday, Birthday!” and you can have your way. BUT remember other people in the house get the same opportunity on their birthday, so be careful how you use it!

Today is my birthday, and so I am pulling the “Birthday, Birthday, Birthday!” card out and using it by using the same lesson today AND tomorrow.

I love to take pictures. I really enjoy the opportunity when on a trip, or visiting family or on a beautiful day to have my camera with me and capture the beauty of God’s creation. I even have a camera I can use underwater to capture the wonders under the sea.

When we traveled to Israel and Germany, I took over a thousand pictures on each trip. That is a lot of pictures! I try to capture the wonder of the surroundings, the people I encounter, the images I see. I try to get a picture of each thing we experience. I am constantly taking pictures. And with grandchildren, there is even more reason to take pictures!

The problem I run into when I am the photographer is that I am also often the tallest person in the group, and often I am responsible to keep the group together. So I am often in the back of the group, and get a lot of pictures of the backs of people’s heads!

It is not uncommon for me to get so wrapped up in trying to get the perfect shot, the right lighting, things just right, that I am more focused on the process than I am on what is right in front of me.

My wife is well aware of this. She often is the one waiting for me to catch up with the group so we can move on to the next thing.

When our daughter got married, it was a special day. She looked so beautiful in her dress, and my son in law so handsome in his tux, and the joy of the day, the gathering of friends and family – it was a great day.

BUT my wife wanted to make sure I was going to be present for the event – she demanded that I NOT take any pictures that day. I was not allowed to have a camera all day. My wife wanted me to be “in the moment” instead of trying to capture the moment.

Talk about anxiety! If not me, then who? My brother? My Mother-In-Law? Will they get the right shot? What if they miss something? Will the lighting be okay? Can they be trusted? Oh my!

Well, I got over it. And I am thankful that she made that request. I was able to enjoy the day, and be present for all that was going on.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus takes disciples up the mountain, a way to get away from all the things that get in the way! There on the mountaintop, the disciples see an incredible sight - Jesus in all his glory, together with Moses and Elijah. I imagine if you and I were there, we would want to TAKE A PICTURE!

But would we miss out on being present?

Do we miss seeing the wonder and splendor of God’s creation and love because we are focused on something else?

Let me ask it this way - What are the cameras you are carrying around? What is it that you get so wrapped up in you have trouble being present?

Could it be your phone? Is your phone on right now? Maybe for your work, and there are times it has to be on – I understand. But do you ever turn it off? Why is it on?

Could it be the next thing on your schedule?

Could it be your worries, your anxieties? The things that terrify you?

Can you put it away? Can you set it down? Can you be present?

As we begin the Lenten journey next week, and you consider what you might want to give up for Lent, I invite you to ask the question – what’s getting in the way of you being present?

Do you get the picture?

Be present. Be still. God is with us. That is all that matters.


Let us pray: Almighty God, thank you for being present in our lives. Open our eyes and close out the distractions so we may see the wonder of all you have made. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

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