Transforming Moments, II Corinthians 5:14-21
(video below)

Transforming moments.  Those times when we have a new understanding of life.

I enjoy basketball.  When I was younger, I enjoyed playing basketball.  Some time ago, when I was in a different decade of my life, I played in a pick-up league for players 35 years of age and older.  Sometimes we would play full-court.  Most of the time, we would play by checking the ball at the top of the 3-point line.  One of the men who played had two sons who were selected to play on the Amateur Athletic Union basketball team that represented that region.  This AAU team consisted of top sophomore and junior basketball players from the area high schools.

The father of these two sons was helping to coach the team and asked if some of us would come out to the high school where the young men were practicing and play some scrimmage games with them.  Along with some of the other men, I agreed to play.

Showing up at the high school gym where the scrimmage was about to take place, I had the first clue that I was about to encounter a new understanding of life as I was warming up to play.  Standing at one end of the court, I was shooting the ball at the basket when I heard cheers begin to erupt from the other end of the court as the members of the AAU team began to warm up by having a slam dunk contest.  The second clue I had about this event becoming a transforming moment occurred about 10 minutes into the scrimmage when I realized that my ability to run up and down the court was being greatly hindered by tired legs and a mind saying, “Marc, you’re getting old.”

Transforming moments.  Those times when we have a new understanding of life.

Today’s scripture lesson is about transforming moments for people of faith in Jesus Christ as we are resurrected into new understandings about our lives through Jesus.  The key verse is these verses about transformation is found in II Corinthians 5:17:

“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away and everything has become new!”

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement that has been expressed through The United Methodist Church, described the transforming moment of this verse in this way: “Only the power that makes a world can make a Christian.” (Notes, 5:17).

It is through this transformative understanding of God’s creative power that followers of Jesus realize the reality in which God is calling us to live.  Through our faith in our Savior, II Corinthians 5:14-21 describes the following transforming moments of Christian faith:

  • The transforming moment of how we live in relationship with other people through our relationship with Christ:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view, even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” (Verse 16)

  • The transforming moment of being entrusted with the responsibility of living in the reconciling power of God’s love:

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.” (Verses 18-19)

  • The transforming moment when followers of Jesus live as ambassadors, or representatives, for Jesus.

So, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”  (Verse 20)

  • The transforming moment when followers of Jesus become the righteousness of God as we live with faith in our Savior.

 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (Verse 21)

Transforming moments.  Those times when we have a new understanding of life.

On February 5, 1994, the Markale Market was jammed with Sarajevens.  Hundreds of women, children, and men came for their weekly outing in search of food and goods.  Without warning, a 120 mm mortar shell hit the crowd, exploding in the midst of the open-air market.  Sixty-eight people were killed by the explosion.  The attack occurred only one block from an earlier attack in May 1992, and just one day after 10 people died from a Serbian-fired mortar shell while waiting for food.

Unable to accept the carnage and mayhem any longer, a cellist from the Sarajevo Symphony resolved to remember the deaths of these victims.  He decided that the horror of the shelling must not be the last word for the lives of those who died.  The day after the deadly bombing he took his cello and a chair and quietly set them up in the heart of the bombed-out area of the shattered marketplace.

Without saying a word, the cellist played a short memorial concert, uninterrupted and unannounced, transforming the scene of horror by moments of harmony and beauty.  Instead of being only the place where 68 people had been massacred, this cellist’s music transformed the marketplace.  At the end of his concert, he picked up his chair and cello and faded into the crowd.  The next day, same time, same place, the cellist returned with his chair and cello.  Again, he played a short concert, unannounced and uninterrupted.  Again, he left silently and without fanfare.  He continued each day until he had played a memorial concert for each of the persons who had died in the shelling, transforming a moment of horror into moments of peace.

Transforming moments.  Those times when we have a new understanding of life.  Fellow followers of Christ, how is Jesus transforming the moments of your life?

June 13, 2021

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