One of the most well known and yet amazing visual examples of the process we call metamorphosis is that of the butterfly. It begins as a tiny egg, hatches into a caterpillar, changes into a chrysalis, and reemerges in the form of a beautiful butterfly. We who appreciate the delicate flight and glorious colors of the butterfly focus on this stage as the ultimate goal of the little creature and often skip over the preceding stages, well, except in science class. 

But there are others who recognize the entire process as the most wonderful characteristic of the insect. The butterfly is hailed as the symbol of mentoring - the gift of watching, teaching, and encouraging growth and change. For there is much of great value in each stage of development and so much we can learn if we but watch carefully.

For example, the egg. Now obviously this is not a butterfly egg. My grocery store doesn't stock those, plus you would not have been able to see it, even in your imagination. But its characteristics are in many ways similar. As humans studied its shape, its strength, and its material, civilizations replicated it in their architecture and defense. Science learned much about cell growth and development and the value of dormancy. Psychologists, too, have come to understand the necessity of surviving struggle and exhaustion as one lives within and eventually breaks free of old boundaries that initially held one safe - and then held one back.

It is all part of God's grand design - transformation from one form to another, emotionally and physically, both internally and visibly. Another wonderful example of this is the birth of a child. Today we joined in the baptism of Payton Lee, a tiny infant, delight of her parents and grandparents. And, yet, a year ago she did not yet exist in any form that we could have seen. Or so we may think. She existed as the love between Eric and Vicky. She existed in the caring relationship that began years ago when they met, dated, and felt that attraction that would not let go despite the natural struggles of learning how to live together. Payton is love made visible.

And although she may physically be helpless to care for herself, she has a power and a value that amazes if you take the time to watch and listen. For if an adult pauses in their busy life to spend time with a baby and ignores the less than enjoyable diapering and crying times, that adult will reconnect with the simple joys of living. For an infant is so attentive to her environment, to sights and sounds, tastes, and raw feelings. Once they can grasp an object, they can spend hours investigating the world around them. Their love is unconditional until our adult behavior teaches them fear, anger, and resentment. Babies are God's gift of renewal if we would just stop being so busy doing and listen to them growing.

Transformation of love to life.

Metamorphosis, changing visibly from one form to another. That's the Greek word that we translate as transfiguration. Butterflies do it and love does it. God's love does it in the form of Jesus. God - transformed into a human infant, then into a human adult, but somehow missed being transformed by human hatred. Instead he shook the world by his refusal to succumb to our inability to love one another. And, then for one brief shining moment three disciples were blessed to glimpse another form of Jesus, they witnessed his glory.

And true to human nature, they did not know what to do in the face of something so miraculous and set about trying to do what their culture would have encouraged them to do for any guest. Shelter them. Provide a place for them to abide while they remained in this place. And, while the intention was honorable, the fact that they were trying to go about business as usual as good Jews and Romans in the presence of the holy was missing out on the experience of a lifetime.

When we are in the presence of Jesus, going about life as we know it, as we are used to behaving is inappropriate. Stopping everything and paying attention to God, listening carefully to Jesus' life and message as read in the scriptures…contemplating, meditating, praying, allowing one's spirit to be moved where its never been before, carefully considering new concepts, opening oneself to a new life, hearing compassionately the stories of the downtrodden and those most distraught by the effects of sin, that is appropriate.

God said, "This is my son, listen to him." Well, how do we listen, when he obviously is not visible to us as he was to the disciples? Perhaps we begin by recognizing that this is God's house and truly believe that Christ is present. Believe that miracles can happen. Bitterness, pride, envy, anger, gossip, and strife have no place here. Here instead is where we lay those burdens at the foot of the cross and say, "God, I don't know how to deal with this except the way the world does. I need your help to resolve it as you would have me do.

Read other sermons by Pastor Joan