Posts Tagged ‘transfiguration’

We come to this moment in time instead of a “place” expecting to hear the divine voice of God. We hope for new and deeper understandings of God and the ministries to which God calls us. We hope to experience a broader understanding of what it means to live the Way of Jesus. May our eyes be opened to new understandings. May our hearts have courage to listen to the voice of God.

The Worship of God

Passing the Peace 
Say to one another, “May the peace of Christ be with you.”
And reply, “And, also with you.”

Reading from the Psalms
Psalm 50:1-6

From the rising of the sun to where it sets,
God, the Lord God, speaks,
calling out to the earth.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines brightly.

Our God is coming;
he won’t keep quiet.
A devouring fire is before him;
a storm rages all around him.
God calls out to the skies above
and to the earth in order to judge his people:
“Bring my faithful to me,
those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
The skies proclaim his righteousness
because God himself is the judge.

Song of Praise
We Have Come at Christ’s Own Bidding
Author: Carl P. Daw
Tune: PLEADING SAVIOR (Joshua Leavitt)

We have come at Christ’s own bidding
to this high and holy place,
where we wait with hope and longing
for some token of God’s grace.
Here we pray for new assurance
that our faith is not in vain,
searching like those first disciples
for a sign both clear and plain.

Light breaks in upon our darkness,
splendor bathes the flesh-joined Word,
Moses and Elijah marvel
as the heavenly voice is heard.
Eyes and hearts behold with wonder
how the Law and Prophets meet:
Christ, with garments drenched in brightness,
stands transfigured and complete.

Strengthened by this glimpse of glory,
fearful lest our faith decline,
we like Peter find it tempting
to remain and build a shrine.
But true worship gives us courage
to proclaim what we profess,
that our daily lives may prove us
people of the God we bless.

Call to Worship


Creativity and light
belong to God
LET ALL THE EARTH REJOICE

Justice and glory
belong to God
LET ALL THE EARTH REJOICE

Wisdom and wonder
belong to God
LET ALL THE EARTH REJOICE

When we get it amazingly wrong
GOD LOVES US

When we get it superbly right
GOD LOVES US

When we have no idea at all what is happening
GOD LOVES US

When we walk with God
WE DO NOT NEED TO BE AFRAID

JESUS SAID: I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.
Listen to him and walk in his way.

JESUS SAID: STAND UP AND DON’T BE AFRAID.
Listen to him and walk in his way.

JESUS SAID: YOU ARE MY FRIENDS.
Listen to him and walk in his way.

JESUS SAID: I AM ALWAYS WITH YOU.
Listen to him and walk in his way.
AMEN

Prayer
Let us pray:


God, we come to the mountaintop to be covered in your presence.
We are comforted by your holiness and your glow;
we are comforted by the hope of the mountain top,
where you are so close,
so accessible,
where there is no doubt of your glory
The mountain top reminds us why we worship you.
We witness your bright power,
and your plan for the nations of the earth.
As we prepare for worship,
God bring us to the mountain top;
bring us to the mountain top
so that we may be inspired to do your work
in the valley below.
Amen

Song of Praise
Ka mana’o ‘I ‘O (Faithful is our God)
Author and Composer Joe Camacho

“Kamana’o ‘I ‘O
O ko kakou Akua.
Faithful, faithful is our God.

In love there is no one more faithful than our God,
Who brings the light into our darkness.
The God who shares the breath of life with you and me,
All living things upon the earth.

In quiet moments God whispers tenderly
The mystery of unending love.
For God is good, and holds us as we sleep,
To wake us to the morning light.

The mercy of our God we seek to share each day,
To help each other on our way,
To be God’s hands and heart with tenderness and care.
God’s faithfulness is always there.

When we share love, we share respect and care,
The gifts and bonds of human kindness.
And in our journey, may love lead the way.
To be God’s living, sing this day.”

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Common English Bible

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God. We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

Prayer for Others
Let us pray,

God of light and glory,
we look at the world you created and we rejoice.
We rejoice in the sunshine and winter birds,
the taste of coffee, hot chocolate, and warm winter stews,
the scent of woodfire stoves and evergreen trees,
the feel of the cold wind on our faces and the wet snow in our shoes.
In the face of the busyness that crowds our lives,
keep us attentive to the beauty around us,
fashioned and illuminated by your love.

God of light and glory,
we look at the way we live in the world and we weep.
We weep for the life threatening political instability in Myanmar and Haiti,
for workers in illegal underground factories in India
for the fighting in Yemen
for the loss of life and loss of trust,
for a fallen, broken humanity
and our persistence in pursuing our own interests
at the expense of others’ needs.
Through the darkness and tears of those who are
wounded, bereaved, and afraid,
shine your healing, restoring light.

God of light and glory,
we remember before you those we know who are in need.
We think of those who are in nursing homes, hospital, and hospices
and those who care for them.
We think of the emergency services,
who come to our aid when our pastimes falter and turn to pain.
Strengthen and comfort them with your loving presence.

God of light and glory,
we thank you above all that in Jesus you have revealed yourself to us,
and that through the Holy Spirit you are with us still,
a lamp shining in a dark place,
until the day dawns
and the morning star rises in our hearts.
Amen.

Anthem
Gather Us In
Words and Music by Marty Haugen

Here in this place new light is streaming
Now is the darkness vanished away
See in this space our fears and our dreamings
Brought here to you in the light of this day

Gather us in, the lost and forsaken
Gather us in, the blind and the lame
Call to us now and we shall awaken
We shall arise at the sound of our name

We are the young, our lives are a mystery
We are the old who yearn for your face
We have been sung throughout all of history
Called to be light to the whole human race

Gather us in, the rich and the haughty
Gather us in, the proud and the strong
Give us a heart so meek and so lowly
Give us the courage to enter the song

Here we will take the wine and the water
Here we will take the bread of new birth
Here you shall call your sons and your daughters
Call us anew to be salt for the earth

Give us to drink the wine of compassion
Give us to eat the bread that is you
Nourish us well and teach us to fashion
Lives that are holy and hearts that are true

Not in the dark of buildings confining
Not in some heaven light years away
But here in this place the new light is shining
Now is the kingdom, now is the day

Gather us in and hold us forever
Gather us in and make us your own
Gather us in, all peoples together
Fire of love in our flesh and our bones
Fire of love in our flesh and our bones

Mark 9:2-9
Common English Bible

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, “Rabbi, it’s good that we’re here. Let’s make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He said this because he didn’t know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, “This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them not to tell anyone what they had seen until after the Human One had risen from the dead.

Reflection on the Gospel
Rev. Tonya Vickery

You know that if we were not in the middle of a pandemic, we would be taking a hike today after church. Jeffrey and I would take you up on the Parkway to Black Balsam.  We would walk that well worn path through the groves, then along the rocky path up into open meadows, all the way to the top of the Knob. And there we would sit wind blowing in our face and look out over these beautiful mountains. For that’s what Jesus did with three of his disciples.

Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up to the top of a high mountain. Mark’s gospel implies Jesus just wants to just get away from everything and everyone.  We have no idea which mountain this might have been. Mark only says that it was “high.”  But you know from experience, when you stand at the top of any high mountain, you can look out and see the world without anything blocking your view.  And this is exactly what happens in the gospel story, both literally, figuratively, and spiritually. The disciples are not only able to see the vastness of the world, but they are about to see clearly the vastness of their Teacher, Jesus. 

After climbing up to the top of a high mountain, there in that moment, Peter, James, and John see Jesus transformed. The first thing that catches their eyes are his clothes. Now Jesus clothes were not white. He wore ordinary clothes, a knee length tunic along with a wrap on top that was called a “mantle.” Both were made from undyed wool. The cloth would have been cleansed of dirt and excessive oil, but no amount of washing could have created the glistening intense white Jesus’ clothes became in that moment. The transformation of Jesus changed his clothes too. Imagine light shining through a translucent, colorless diamond. That’s how I imagine Jesus in that moment. Jesus becomes such an amazing bright light, that his clothes appear a pure and clean.

Jesus has not only  brought Peter, James, and John up to an unhindered view of the world, but Jesus has also brought them up to an unhindered view of God. In their midst shines the radiant light of God.  The boundary between the Human One and the Divine One is pulled aside. Peter, James, and John catch a short glimpse of God’s new work in the world. This “person” whom they chose to follow not so long ago is not merely another great prophet or teacher or a really dynamic speaker or a smart cookie or just a worker of miracles. In this rare moment, God pulls back the curtain, uncovers what has been hidden from human understanding and perspective and allows them to see the Divine God in human form.

That would have been enough, but there is more. The three and Jesus are joined in the moment by two well known Old Testament peeps:  Elijah and Moses. Most religious folk believed that when the time came for God to set the world aright again, Moses and Elijah would reappear. Moses represents the laws of God. Elijah represents the prophets. Two expressions of God’s love and care and order of this world. And now both are here with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just represent the Law. Jesus doesn’t just represent the prophets. No, Jesus is God; Jesus is  the fulfilment of the Law and the hope of the prophets. The company Moses and Elijah bring to Jesus is unique, for they understand what Jesus’ disciples cannot comprehend. They meet Jesus in that moment offering comfort and encouragement.

Peter doesn’t know what to do. Neither do James nor John. But Peter feels that something must be done. Minds blown, terrified to the bone, Peter cannot sit still nor keep silence.  He starts babbling,  “Teacher, let’s build three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Peter wants to do something to acknowledge their presence, to mark this moment, to set the place apart.  Peter is scared out of his wits, but he thinks the magnificence display will last forever. Here, finally,  is the sign of the reign of God coming to earth. Jesus is radiant. Moses is here along with Elijah!  The time has come for God to rule the world! So let’s build some shrines for this awesome work of God! 

However, it doesn’t last. The radiance, the power, the pureness, the amazing joy, the terrifying moment is dulled by a cloud. All of us who have hiked these Blue Ridge Mountains know what this is like. You have relatives come in from out of town, pre-COVID, of course. They’re from Florida or Texas and haven’t seen mountain top vistas in real life, only on screensavers. You pack the car with the people and a picnic lunch and you head up to the Parkway. But the higher you go, the “foggier” it gets. However, it’s not fog, it’s the clouds. And the beautiful view of the mountains and the rolling valleys is nothing more than a tv screen from the 70’s looked like when it lost its signal. The clear unobstructed view of the world, of Jesus and Moses and Elijah is overshadowed by a cloud.

No longer able to see the Divine with their eyes, their ears now hear the voice of God speaking directly to them. “This is my beloved Son,” God says, “to whom you need to listen.”  The voice of God doesn’t say anything else. Then suddenly, all at once, without any warning, everything changes back to how it had been. Moses and Elijah gone. The radiant light of Jesus gone. His clothes become ordinary again. They can still see the world below them. And that’s where Jesus leads them, back down the mountain to join the others.  For there is more to God’s goodness and love and grace than just this burst of radiant glorious light. Now as they make their way back down the high mountain Jesus orders them not to tell anyone what they just saw. They will need to wait until Jesus has risen from the dead. This was an experience for their future good and ultimately for the good of the world.

The story of the  transfiguration lies central to the gospel of Mark. It is placed halfway between Jesus’ baptism and Jesus’ resurrection. Right before the three disciples climb the mountain with Jesus, Jesus plainly told the disciples what the future looked like. He was going to have to suffer many things. He would be rejected by the religious authorities and leaders. He would be killed and then after three days, he would rise from the dead. Peter didn’t like what Jesus was saying. In fact, he took ahold of Jesus by the shoulders, looked him in the eye and scolded him. He was correcting Jesus giving him the pep talk. “You’re not going to die. We are here with you and we won’t let that happen. The authorities can’t lay a hand on you.” You can imagine what you would be saying to the one to whom you have pledged your life and all your ears hear is that they are going to be defeated. For that’s all that Peter could hear. He was focused on himself and this worldly life. Jesus told Peter and tells us, “You are not thinking God’s thoughts but human thoughts.”  You see, there is more to God’s goodness and love and grace than just the portion of our lives we live here on earth. Jesus tells all of them that this earthly life portion is just a portion. It is not by any means the full picture of life we have in God. The end of this portion of Jesus’ life on this earth won’t be pretty. He is going to be judged a criminal; he will be crucified, nailed to a cross, he will die hanging there. Jesus didn’t deserve such an ending. To our eyes and to our ears it appears that Jesus lost, that Jesus was defeated, or even that Jesus gave up. But this earthly portion of our lives coming to an end is not a punishment, nor a defeat, nor a resignation. It is just a part of the fullness of life that we have from God through Jesus Christ. Death of this earthly life is not the end, and the transfiguration of Jesus Christ so powerfully reminds us of of this very gift.

Jesus’ devotion to the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven eventually and inevitably provoked the powers of evil.  Fear, hatred, greed, and despair reared their ugly heads as Jesus lived out God’s righteousness and God’s love. When fear, hatred, greed, and despair invade our mind and our hearts, our thoughts and ideas become distorted, far removed from the thoughts of God. Fear, hatred, greed, and despair, they tempt us to create falsehoods and lies to cover up things. Fear, hatred, greed, and despair, they lead us to commit violence. Fear, hatred, greed, and despair, they push us to oppress others.  Fear, hatred, greed, and despair, they lead us to murderous responses to others, both literally and figuratively. Now if Jesus’ devotion to  God’s reign here on earth led to the uprooting of these powers, don’t you believe as we live here to bring God’s reign here on earth we too will be uprooting these powers.

Six verses before our reading for the morning, Jesus calls a crowd to gather. Here’s what he says to them in Mark 8:34.  “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.” Jesus does not call us to live passive lives of love. Jesus does not call us to live good lives, make good choices, and to avoid evil. Living the Way of Jesus is not a private bearing of your personal woes for the sake of Jesus. Living the Way of the Jesus is an active pursuit of God’s reign now. Living the Way of the Jesus means pursuing God’s love for the world. Living the Way of Jesus means living out God’s love in the here and now.  Living the Way of Jesus means refusing the power games of domination, exploitation, and deception.

Throughout the gospel story, Jesus teaches us how to live in and under the reign of God wherever we are. And this powerful good news causes us to change what we think and how we live no matter who we are.  The voice of God says, “This is my beloved Son to whom you should listen.”  If we listen, we will hear about that blessed abundant full life God offers us always. For God’s goodness and love and grace is more than just a burst of glorious light. 

Prayer of Thanksgiving 
Thank you, God for constant love.
Please help our church family grow
deeper and deeper in your love. Amen.

Song of Faith
O Wondrous Sight, O Vision Fair
Author: Sarum Breviary, 1495. Trans. John Mason Neale
Tune: OLD HUNDREDTH LM (Louis Bourgeois)

1 O wondrous sight, O vision fair
of glory that the church shall share,
which Christ upon the mountain shows,
where brighter than the sun he glows!

2 From age to age the tale declare,
how with the three disciples there,
where Moses and Elijah meet,
the Lord holds converse high and sweet.

3 The law and prophets there have place,
two chosen witnesses of grace;
the Father’s voice from out the cloud
proclaims his only Son aloud.

4 With shining face and bright array
Christ deigns to manifest today
what glory shall be theirs above
who joy in God with perfect love.

5 And faithful hearts are raised on high
by this great vision’s mystery,
for which in joyful strains we raise
the voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

Sending Out
May the path that Christ walks
to bring justice upon the earth,
to bring light to those who sit in darkness,
to bring out those who live in bondage,
to bring new things to all creation:
may this path
run through our life.
May we be
the road Christ takes.

Blest Be the Tie 
by John Fawcett 

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. 
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

When we are called to part, it gives us inward pain; 
but we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again. 

This glorious hope revives our courage by the way; 
while each in expectation lives and waits to see the day.  

Acknowledgements:

  • The image comes from JESUS MAFA. Transfiguration, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48307 [retrieved February 8, 2021]. Original source: http://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr (contact page: https://www.librairie-emmanuel.fr/contact).
  • The psalm was read by Stone from the Common English Bible.
  • We Have Come at Christ’s Own Bidding was played by Tracy on the organ and sung by Mindy.
  • The Call to Worship was posted on the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women website of the United Methodist Church.  It was read by Tonya, Alizabeth, Carmen, and Wren with the video compiled by Tonya.
  • Ka mana’o ‘I ‘O was sung by Mindy who accompanied herself on the ukulele and recorder.
  • The prayer for others was adapted by Tonya from a prayer written by Cally Booker printed in The Feast of the Transfiguration, Wild Goose Publications, Iona Community, © 1988. It was read by Tracy.
  • The anthem was sung by Ally, Mindy, Elizabeth, Laura, Michelle and Tonya, accompanied by Tonya on the piano and Michelle on the guitar. Laura sang the opening solo and Ally sang the third verse solo.
  • O Wondrous Sight, O Vision Fair was played by Tracy on the organ and sung by Mindy.
  • The Sending Out was written by Jan L. Richardson, and posted on The Painted Prayerbook website.

    Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-724755. All rights reserved.  All writings have been used by permission from the posting sites or authors.

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