An eschatological IS
Texts: Exodus 24:12-18, II Peter 1:16-21, Matthew 17:1-9
February 3, 2008
Grace mercy and peace be unto each of you from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN
The title of this sermon is one of my favorite! Eschatology is not a word heard often in conversations, but can run rampant on seminary campuses. Eschatology is the study of theology that treats death, judgment and the future state of the soul. Sounds pretty imposing, doesn’t it? For most of us we are probably more concerned with where the money is coming from to pay the latest increase in our gas, electric or fuel bill. Some may be concerned about the end of the primaries and the beginning of a presidential campaign. Few of us are concerned with the state of the soul, death or judgment unless we happen to be nearing the end of life – or are we?
I raise that question because I think we are very much involved, yet very unaware of the eschatological is which permeates our very lives.
An eschatological is – is my own personal pet phrase – for acknowledging the end in the present. It’s what Peter, James and John were doing when they volunteered to make the booths for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. They didn’t want the moment to end; yet they didn’t fully comprehend it. What I call an eschatological is as told in today’s Gospel appeared to be ignored by the apostles. They didn’t see Jesus as God’s Son at that moment; the realization came to them after his death and resurrection.
The writer of II Peter reviewed this transfiguration and declaration of Jesus as God’s Son as heard in the passage this morning, but he wrote already knowing how the story would end.
So where you might ask does one find an eschatological is? One of the first that came to mind for me was Grimm’s brother’s tale of Cinderella. Everyone here know the story? We have a sad tale of young girl named Ella, whose father remarries a seemingly not so nice woman with two not very nice daughters. Ella is relegated to the cinders – cleaning out the fireplace – hence her nickname – Cinder Ella, a name meant to denigrate not uplift. Yet someone sees her as more than a young girl who cleans out the fireplace; she is a fair princess and deserves better and more than what her adoptive family provides. Her benefactress in this class changes Cinder Ella into Cinderella and whisks her off to the ball, where she, too, sees herself and experiences life as a princess until she is caught short by the clock. Reality sets in; the rags come back and she goes back to the fireplace. But she isn’t the same she has a piece of what could be and as the story ends she truly becomes the fair princess, CINDERELLA.
We know the story so we only see her as the princess from beginning to end. That is an eschatological is. Seeing what is before it actually manifests itself in one’s life.
Another story comes from the Spanish writer, Cervantes about a quirky knight named Don Quixote. Perhaps some of you caught the play when it was here a few months ago. It is one of my favorite musicals. I love the part where Don Quixote treats the barmaid as a lady. He beseeches her understanding of his quest and changes her name from Aldonza to Dulcinea. He consistently calls her by another name. She doesn’t like it; she wonders why. She is no lady, except a lady of the evening and her birth seemed to dictate this is what she would become. Yet Don Quixote insists she is more than this; she has a kind heart and compassion certainly attributes befitting the finest noblewoman. As the play continues she struggles with this image; Don Quixote is confronted with his folly and eventually lies on his deathbed.
Who comes to visit by Aldonza and at his side she calls herself and sees herself as Dulcinea – an eschatological is.
These may be nice stories, but where might you ask is an eschatological is in my life?
Every time we see a new born baby – we don’t just see a red face and scrunched up hands or wrinkly feet. We see the next star quarter back for the football team, an honor student, a doctor, singer – if they exhibit great lungs. We see more than just a baby, we see a future. We imagine them talking, walking, going to school.
We see the future in the present. We see an eschatological is. A baby who is a toddler, who becomes a teenager, a young man who is ??? fill in the blank. Sometimes when we glimpse that future in the present, we, too, want to build booths to maintain that image; hold onto what we know can be. We see the baby, then the toddler, the teenager and soon life comes fast and furious – graduation, making money building one’s faith and relationship to God and to others, until there is marriage and the start of another family. It’s amazing what we see when we look at our children.
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. It is a day when we look at Jesus with the eyes of the disciples. We know him to be a man with altering views of the law; he is kind to children. He heals all regardless of race, creed or sex. He teaches words which seem simple to follow and we as the disciple – the one who wants to learn follow him to a hillside. We see Jesus walking among the prophets and hear God’s declaration, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” We see – we see what will be at the end, but is not yet and we do not fully comprehend. Yet we take it to heart, this eschatological is.
An eschatological is. We have seen and heard the story of Cinder Ella becoming Cinderella. You have heard a portion of the story of a woman of ill-repute – Aldonza becoming a lady named Dulcinea. Lastly you have seen a picture of a new born transformed into a successful adult at the blink of eye.
Yet that is not the most powerful message of an eschatological is. It still remains for us to see ourselves as God sees us. Who we think we are may not be who God sees. At our Baptism we take the water and word to transform our lives. From that moment on we try to live as God sees us – whole, healthy, perfect, forgiven and loved – an eschatological is.
Like Cinderella, Dulcinea and the children who live up to a dream bigger than they at first think they are – so do we in our journey with God. Each day when we look in the mirror we need to see the person God sees, not a person who is too fat, too poor, to quick tempered, to whatever …. Who I see should reflect the child of God that I am without pause.
To live each day knowing that judgment of our souls, the end of our lives whenever that may be – the eschaton, we are called first and foremost to be sons and daughters of God. It is up to us to live our lives accordingly, not with apology but as a prince or princess at the end of a fairy tale. We need to hold our heads and hearts high as the lord and lady of our manor. We need to seek out our dreams and the dreams God has for us and begin reaching for them daily – just as Don Quixote reached for the impossible star.
If you stayed for the end of the play or watched the movie – you know he made it, but not necessarily as those around him expected – kind of like the story of Peter, James and John. Each of us is an eschatological is in the making.