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Mission in the World
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Evangelical Lutheran
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Winnipeg MB R3B 3H6

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Epiphany Sermon Series 2001

February 25, 2001 -- Transfiguration

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

Transfiguration Sunday, at least for me, is symbolic of a positive change. The change that occurs in the Transfiguration story is not with God, but in the disciple's perception of God. The God of love and compassion does not change, but how we perceive God in our lives is an evolution that is continual modified by the experience of living.

Entering a foreign country and experiencing a new way of living can offer both positive and negative scenarios. A recent visit by granddaughter Tracy included a volunteer teaching assignment in a preschool for Muslim and Christian children. The school is long building of four classrooms with approximately sixty children in each. Toilets are mud-brick outdoors. The headmistress has no office but sits before a desk outside under a projecting eave.

Rev Jack Frederick and his wife Valerie

Rev Jack Frederick
c/o Sudan Mission,
B.P. 111, Ngaoundere,

This is a school very different from that in North America and occassioned the following story from our Sunday evening Bible Study and Prayer Meeting.

At the conclusion of the evening the prayer requests were shared. Tracy, in a very low soft voice, mentioned that a child had become sick at the school and had died the following day. The death of the little girl had prompted an announcement at the beginning of a school day: silence for a moment; a shake of the head; a forlorn look. The mention of the little girl's name and that her life had come to a close took no more than the time for a butterfly to move gracefully from one bright blossom to another. And then, the class continued.

"Had the death occurred in my school back home," Tracy said, "there would have been a unified cry of unbelief and anguish, and perhaps the school would have been closed for a day to attend the funeral." A brief silence and then, "I want to offer a prayer for the family of this little girl. She has a little sister in my present class."

Dr. Lee Bohnhoff a Bible translator who has lived in Cameroon for forty years commented that Cameroonians grieve the loss of loved ones as intensely, if not more so than others. The difference in reaction to death is that death especially amongst children is expected: the wonder is not that a child has died, but that there are those that live. What caused the child's death? She was sick, and she died! Malaria! Perhaps!

I prayed before I came here to Cameroon, I pray much more now. The aspects and reality of life touch you in a much more profound manner. The necessity of God can be seen in the our lives, in the life of my Cameroon neighbours, and all of God's children throughout our world. There is a great need to turn to God: because in God there is profound compassion and forgiveness, because in God, in the midst of our sorrow there is profound salvation. And with the knowledge of profound salvation there may be profound gratitude: a transfiguration.

-- Rev. Jacob Frederick
Ngaoundere, Cameroon.


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