What is the fascination with half time team talks? Whatever the match is, every single time we get to half time the first question that Adrian Chiles asks Roy Kean, is “what will the managers be saying in the dressing room?” Of course no one knows the answer, they’ve just got airtime to fill so they waffle on and on.
And of course, sometimes what happens at half time can have a massive impact. There was that fateful day a couple of years ago when Phil Brown did his team talk on the pitch at Hull, and their season never recovered. There was Scott Parker’s famous speech at half time last year, inspiring West Ham to a massive comeback in the second half against West Brom.
Now, why am I wittering on about half time? Well, the things that we heard about from Luke’s account of Jesus’ life could be seen as half time in Jesus’ ministry on earth. The first half of this ministry was spent mostly wandering around the countryside, gathering followers, teaching, and healing people. In the second half there is a change of emphasis, a change of direction. Jesus is headed for Jerusalem, towards the cross, his death and resurrection.
At the point at which he starts heading in that direction, he takes aside the key members of his team for a half time chat. The great thing is that we don’t have to guess what happens in this dressing room, we’re told about it, and so we can learn from it, it can make a difference to our lives.
The half time team talk is valued by managers and coaches because it gives them an opportunity to affect the direction of the match, perhaps to make some changes, or to reinforce and encourage when things are going well.
At different times in our lives we face different changes. Many of you here are in the process of changing from children into adults. Some of you will be facing changes in home circumstances. Some of you will be facing changes in the subjects you are studying, or the exams you are preparing for. We are surrounded by change, and it seems to me that the account of the transfiguration, the ultimate half time event, gives us some clues about how we deal with change.
Jesus is preparing for a change in direction, so he talks with people. But not just any old people, Moses and Elijah were the highest examples of wisdom, leadership, and spiritual depth from the history of the people of God. We don’t know exactly what they said to each other, but it is likely that there was good counsel and encouragement were involved.
As you navigate the changes in your life, who are you going to talk them over with? Who has God given you to be wise, trustworthy and encouraging coaches? If you don’t know, are you willing to ask God for them, and to be ready to listen when they are sent?
Peter speaks out of misunderstanding. He doesn’t really know what’s going on, and to be fair, it is pretty mind blowing, but he thinks that what is happening is good and so he wants it to continue, he doesn’t want it to change. He wants to stay where he is, and to keep others there with him. He doesn’t want to leave the changing room, it’s wet and muddy out there and he wants another orange segment. In fact, why bother with the second half, why not just have a shower now and get into some clean, dry clothes?
But we can’t stay as we are, we have to move forward. If Jesus had stayed on that mountain top then he would never have reached Jerusalem. If we are to follow him faithfully then we have to learn when to hold our tongues and we mustn’t hold on to what we should let go of.
Finally, the most important voice of all speaks. God speaks about Jesus, in a voice even more impressive than Alex Ferguson’s infamous hairdryer treatment, “this is my chosen one, listen to him” And this is, of course, this is the most important thing for us all to do as we face change, as we grow and mature. We learn to listen to Jesus.
This learning is an ongoing adventure, there is always more to learn. As we read the Bible, spend time walking with others in Jesus’ way, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, so we will hear what Jesus is saying to us. As we put what we hear into practice, so we will be better equipped to go out there and win the prize, a life of glory.