February 11, 2024 - Transfiguration Sunday

For the week of February 11 – Transfiguration Sunday

Morning prayer: Mighty God, stay with us always, not only in our worship, but as we share the risk and challenge of living our faith. By Your powerful Spirit, turn our fear to courage. Your glory shines in the face of Christ; shine in our hearts and lives. May Your name be praised, glorious God! Amen. [Written by Ruth C. Duck, in Touch Holiness: Resources for Worship, Updated (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2012), 40.]

Opening Hymn:  #103 Immortal, Invisible, God, Only Wise

  1. Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
    most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
    almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.
  2. Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
    Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
    Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
  3. To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small; in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
    we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
    and wither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.
  4. Thou reignest in glory; Thou dwellest in light;

Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
all laud we would render: O help us to see 'tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee.

2 Peter 1:16-19

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to Him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is My Son, My Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with Him on the holy mountain.

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Children’s Time Exodus 34:29-31

Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them.

Children’s Message

After Moses spent time with God, his face glowed. It glowed so brightly, it made folks uncomfortable, so Moses started wearing a veil to cover it. God left God’s mark on Moses’ face.

How can people tell when we spend time with God? Maybe we smile more, say kinder things, offer help, grace, and forgiveness faster. There should be evidence, something that can be seen when we spend time with God. This mark from God should be something we can see in ourselves and in others when time is spent with God. Because the evidence grows the longer we spend time with God.

How can we start spending more time with God? Maybe we read one more story or one more chapter of the Bible each week or we can pray for one more person each night. God longs for time with us and God will encourage us in spending more time with God so we reflect God’s love.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight: Lent begins Wednesday with prayerfully and humbly receiving ashes as a sign of humility and repentance.  Two Lenten challenges:  Give “30 Pieces of Silver” to finance building a bathhouse for Withrow University College.  Pray for the administrators, staff and students of Withrow University College.  The names of the two students we sponsor are Emmanuella and Ebenezer. 

Offering prayer: Gracious God, as we remember Christ’s transfiguration, we stand in awe of the glimpse of Your glory revealed on the mountain. Just as Peter, James, and John witnessed the radiant presence of Christ, we, too, are transformed by Your love and grace. As we offer our tithes and offerings, may these gifts reflect the warming light of Your love in our lives. Just as Jesus was transfigured before them, may our hearts be transformed, and our actions reflect the love and truth Jesus embodies. Bless our giving and use it to bring Your divine light to a world in need. In the name of Jesus, our Lord, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn of preparation: #437 This Is My Song

  1. This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands afar and mine.

This is my home, the country where my heart is;

here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;

but other hearts in other lands are beating

with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

  1. My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;

But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,

and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.

O hear my song, Thou God of all the nations,

a song of peace for their land and for mine.

  1. This is my prayer, O Lord of all earth’s kingdoms:

Thy kingdom come; on earth Thy will be done.

Let Christ be lifted up till all shall serve Him, and hearts united learn to live as one.

O hear my prayer, Thou God of all the nations; myself I give Thee; let Thy will be done.

Message Scripture:  Mark 9:2-9

Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is My Son, the Beloved; listen to Him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, He ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Message:                                 Pastor Becky

This is the story that always comes before the start of Lent. It is the reminder for us that Jesus is wholly human and wholly divine. He is 100% human and 100% divine, it isn’t 50/50. Jesus’s nature is not dependent on what is going on around Him or who He is with. It is an ALL always. Jesus is the embodiment of each nature. This is Jesus’s condition at birth and remains to this day and continues into eternity.

I wish I had an illustration to emphasize or clarify this, but I don’t. Anything I would offer would only diminish this truth. We take this on faith; it is a doctrinal statement, and it is foundational to what we believe about Jesus. It is only because Jesus is both human and divine does our salvation, our reconciliation with God even exist.

So, what can I look to – what can I point us to that will carry over into our daily living in response to this moment in Jesus’s ministry? What is there for us in this extraordinary revelation from God? We can look at Peter's reaction.

He is terrified and rightly so. Even though right along, Peter has been declaring Jesus as Messiah and he heard God’s proclamation at Jesus’s baptism, this moment terrified him. In this state, he defaults to social convention, the offering of hospitality. In essence, he works within his programming.

Guests need lodging, he thinks. He decides he must get busy building dwellings of some sort. His brain begins organizing for construction. He begins making a mental build list – wood, rope, fabric, and bedding. His brain jumps to feeding, hospitality would be lacking if there wasn’t anything to feed the guests. Wait, but first fire. He needs rocks for a firepit, then wood, then food. Oh, but what about water? Keeping his mind and hands busy with hospitality, focusing on what is needed to be a good host is within his programming.

This busyness is completely understandable. We can relate. We, like Peter, desire to fulfill the objective, to accomplish the goal. Yet, Peter is missing what is directly in front of him: an encounter with the divine. We miss it as well, unfortunately, regularly; because we are focused on what makes us comfortable, what we can control. In the terms of mission and ministry, what we can control and what makes us comfortable is productivity. How many and how fast can we serve or aid?

We aren’t expecting or anticipating or preparing for a divine encounter with Jesus. Yet, where we are at any given time is a sacred space with divine appointments that God sets for us to be in the presence of those Jesus would be with – the least, the lonely, and the lost. But even more fundamental to our beliefs and understandings of God is our belief that every person is marked by the Divine Image of God and we are missing those encounters with one another.

We get engrossed in the how, that we forget the who. Who it is we are with. I stand before you guilty. I obsess about the numbers and the resources. 111 families at John C Buck, 64 families and counting for our coat give away, 60+ souls every Saturday at Wesley for the community meal. You see me with my clipboards and legal tablets, collecting volunteers and resources, trying to get everything to add up for a “successful” event. I focus on what is needed in that moment, never preparing to see anyone, they become a number – diminished and deprived of their humanity. I believe I am doing good, I am upholding what Jesus commanded me to do, completing a checklist. I am not fully engaged, I’m more comfortable being distracted than holding that sacred space to encounter and see the person in front of me. Shunning the belief we could have anything in common.

Yet, we hold the most precious thing in common. We each have been marked and contain the Image of God within us. If we look for that image in each other, if we commit to seeing the image first as our goal, the Kingdom would most certainly break through and we would see Jesus.

Closing Hymn: #156 I Love to Tell the Story

  1. I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and His glory,
    of Jesus and His love. I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true;
    it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

Refrain: I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

  1. I love to tell the story; more wonderful it seems than all the golden fancies
    of all our golden dreams. I love to tell the story, it did so much for me;
    and that is just the reason I tell it now to thee. (Refrain)
  2. I love to tell the story; 'tis pleasant to repeat what seems, each time I tell it,
    more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
    the message of salvation from God's own holy Word. (Refrain)
  3. I love to tell the story, for those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting
    to hear it like the rest. And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
    'twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long. (Refrain)

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.