Good Morning everybody. Welcome to our service of worship on this last Sunday before Lent. Thank you to Caroline and Julia for reading and leading intercessions. The focus of the service today is on the transfiguration of Christ.
Order of Service
HYMN: All hail the power of Jesus name
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you
And also with you.
Prayer of Preparation
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Prayers of Penitence
When Christ appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is.
As he is pure,
all who have grasped this hope make themselves pure.
So let us confess our sins that mar his image in us.
Your unfailing kindness, O Lord, is in the heavens,
and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Your righteousness is like the strong mountains,
and your justice as the great deep:
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
For with you is the well of life
and in your light shall we see light:
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.
Glory to God
On this day when Christ’s glory is revealed – we sing.
You are the king of glory
whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross:
give us grace to perceive his glory,
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Read by Caroline Longlands
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
HYMN: ‘Tis Good Lord to be here.
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, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 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.’ 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 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.
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew
Glory to you O Lord.
This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Over the last two or three weeks Ketton and Tinwell have been transfigured. Already pretty, they have become fairy-tale villages as each branch and each fence and gatepost has been gilded in white, every building has been iced and on a sunny day the snowy fields have sparkled. Our immediate world has been transfigured – but not transformed. The outward appearance of the places we live has changed but essentially, they remain the same.
It is an important distinction. Jesus ascends Mount Tabor with his three closest disciples, Peter, James and John and as they gather on the top, Jesus is transfigured before them. His appearance changes. He looks other, he looks different, glowing, shining, dazzling – his clothes white beyond the impact of Ariel or Fairy. The disciples see Jesus in his glory, they are given a revelation. Jesus is not transformed – that is he is not changed inwardly or fundamentally in his nature- but in that moment he is shown to be other than they had assumed – his true nature is revealed. His divinity is revealed. His glory is revealed.
Peter, James and John started out following a charismatic guy who called them from their fishing boats. An itinerant healer and a preacher who inspired them. Over the months they have understood more and more about Jesus. They have experienced the miracles, heard the teaching and in a moment of insight Peter has named him as the Messiah, the one whom God promised to send to the people of Israel. Now these three disciples have this overwhelming mountain top experience where they are given the gift of being able for themselves who Jesus truly is. To see his glory and majesty, his holiness and also his place – that is his significance and importance.
In the vision that is given to the disciples Jesus is accompanied by Moses and Elijah, the two great figures of Israel’s story. Moses the patriarch, the bringer of God’s law, the Torah, the foundation of Israel’s relationship with God. Elijah the prophet, the one who stands for God and God’s way in the face of the unfaithfulness of the people. The one who calls people back to their God. The presence of Moss and Elijah indicates that Jesus has come to fulfil the law and the prophets. This is his destiny. The experience of the disciples up there on the mountain was a glimpse into the mind of God.
That point is that this vision is for them. It is intended for them. Of course, they are terrified – if confronted with the glory of God what is there to do except hide one’s face – but as the cloud obscures the image, the voice of God is heard. And it is addressed to the disciples. This is my son, the beloved, listen to him. The same affirmation as used at Jesus’ baptism but now for the benefit of those three men. This experience is in the nature of a calling. Such visions are given for a reason. Years later Peter was to write in one of his letters to the church ‘we actually saw his majesty with our own eyes’ (2 Peter 1:16). This is a moment of wonder. Peter even wanted to make tents that they could all stay there. This is experience changes those men forever. They have to come down the mountain, they have to pick up their lives and their ministry but they have had this vision and not individually – it is a shared vision. They can affirm it to each other. It is an experience that reinforces faith, one to picture again and again in imagination and draw strength from.
I don’t think we can understand the story of the transfiguration, it’s too odd. But we can let it draw us in to looking at Jesus once again, contemplating him, kneeling before his divinity, affirming his majesty. Owning him as Lord of all.
We are living through a story the world tells us about fear and disease, economic collapse and restricted lives. But this is not the whole of how things are. To people without faith – this is their whole world. In the words of St Paul that Caroline read – the gospel is veiled to them.
But to those who know Jesus there is another picture of the world and a saviour in whom we have hope. And the command to the disciples holds true for us too – ‘listen to him.’ Whatever our experience of Jesus, we can ask God to deepen it, we can draw strength from it and we can nurture faith within ourselves and one another. We can keep a vision of Jesus before us to steer us through the lockdown, the separations, the griefs.
Let us pray to grow our vision of Jesus and let us worship his glory.
Loving God, may we know Jesus more deeply and contemplate him more really. Help us to hold fast to our knowledge of Jesus and to build faith in one another during these hard times in whatever way we can.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
led by Julia Freeman
Father, we thank you that there is no limit to your power to make all things new, and for Christ in whom your life-changing, world-renewing love is made known.
We thank you for all those who, down the centuries and across the world, have lived bravely for your truth; for those whose commitment has opened other people’s eyes to your presence and for those whose witness, faithfulness and love makes yesterday bearable , tomorrow hopeful and today liveable.
We praise you for the transfiguration of Jesus.
We thank you for the way the eyes of his disciples were opened to begin to understand something more of who he really was.
We are amazed when we remember those moments when you have broken into our thoughts, our hearts and our lives and revealed something more of your Lordship, your power, your love and your glory.
We thank you for the blazing light of the Holy Spirit, who transforms our frustration, our darkness and our emptiness with the power of his presence and makes our lives whole.
We pray for those who rule the nations of the world; for those who have the power to bring peace or the determination to wage war. We pray for victory of honesty, truth and justice for all. Father we pray for the world in its struggle with Covid 19, for the vaccine and in its hope for eradication.
We pray for any we know to be in need, for those who are ill, for those who have the coronavirus, for those suffering long Covid, for those who are anxious, for those struggling with mental issues. We pray for our neighbours, our family and our friends and any we know who need to hear of the love of God. We pray and commit to you all who have died our loved ones, for those who lost the battle with coronavirus. We pray for those who mourn and are walking in grief they will feel the touch of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ upon their hearts.
We pray for ourselves for all we must do and say and face in the coming days of this week;
For the words of faith we should share and the prayers for others for which we need words; for the challenges that we know we must face and the pressures and pain and the stress of each day. We ask for the transforming love of Christ to go with us.
Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your son our saviour Jesus Christ.
HYMN Majesty, worship his majesty
We are all one in Christ Jesus.
We belong to him through faith,
heirs of the promise of the Spirit of peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Although we’re apart let us hold one another in the peace of Christ in a moment of prayer.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us
Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
HYMN Glorious things of thee are spoken
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord
In the name of Christ. Amen.
Mendelssohn Sonata 1: Allegro Assai Vivace