The Sunday before Lent – Transfiguration – February 14th 2021

Today’s childrens activity sheet can be downloaded from here

Welcome

Good Morning everyone and welcome to this week’s online service. I have a little surprise for you this morning, as we have a special guest. Ben from Christ-Church Endcliffe has kindly recorded our reflection this morning and I am really grateful to him for taking the time to prepare and share  his insights on our Gospel reading.

So on this day when many are marking Valentine’s Day and many will be marking today as Racial Justice Sunday, let us remember that we are truly and wholly loved by our Creator God.

We pray together.    

Almighty God,
we ask you to show us something more of who you are
and how awesome your presence is.
Overcome our fear of the unknown,
and lead us into a new experience of you.
May our worship today be as on a mountain-top,
a transforming encounter that empowers our discipleship.

Amen.

(c) Copyright 2002-2021, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved.

Worship

Praise

We begin our worship, lets thank God for his love for us as we sing ‘Your love is amazing’

Take some time to think back to a time when you knew God was with, remember where it was and how it felt. Tell God what you remember and when you are ready, move onto the next song or the prayer for today.

Collect - the prayer for today

Almighty Father,
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.
Amen

Word

The transfiguration

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Mark 9
2-9
Hi there, my name is Ben and I am one of the clergy down at Christ Church Endcliffe just down the road. It’s great to be with you today (even if only virtually). I’m bringing with me the love and prayers of your sisters and brothers down here. It’s great to work together as always.
 
My friends, it would be great if you could grab a bible or device and flick or scroll to Mark chapter 9 and that will be really helpful for you as we go through. 
 
I don’t know about you but the Christian life is sometimes quite hard isn’t it? It might be that on your front line that when you tell people you are a christian that they look at you slightly oddly – “Really? You believe all that stuff?” 
 
Or maybe it’s with your family and they accept it but they woudn’t call themselves christians and so when you commandeer the computer every Sunday morning they look at you slightly oddly. 
 
Maybe it’s more internal, maybe it’s that as you have gone through the Christian life. You’ve prayed for stuff for years and years and years, you long for God to act but God has not answered that prayer, not at the moment. And so just keeping going as a Christian is hard. 
 
Maybe it’s being in 2021 in lockdown 3 and continuing to walk with God under these circumstances is hard.
 
And if that’s you, then come with me to Mark chapter 9 because it is a passage that I think will be really helpful for us. You see in Mark 9 we’ve just come off the back of one of the highlights in Mark. If you were reading through it you would see Peter confessing that Jesus is the Christ and at that point you would be thinking “yes! He’s got it!“ But since then more or less all that Jesus has talked about has been his own death, and then the fact that his followers need to take up their cross (their first century torture device) and follow him. The implication being that they are heading for death as well. You see life is not easy for the disciples!
 
And so what does Jesus do? He takes Peter, James and John up a mountain… I’ve got three kids and one of the things that I love doing with them is watching them watching films. You put the film on and then you watch their faces and when things are exciting they beam and it’s lovely, when things are scary, they really feel it. Sometimes what we have to do with our eldest is stop the film for a bit, and explain to her what is going on and how it’s going to end. We show her what it’s going to be like so that she can then enjoy the rest of the film. Knowing that it will be okay in the end. And I think that’s what Jesus does here as he comes up the mountain with his disciples.
 
You see, going up the mountain in Biblical times would’ve had all sorts of symbolism. People meet with God on the mountains throughout the Old Testament. You think of Balaam or Elijah or Moses. And in fact when Moses went up the mountain it was very similar to this:
 
Remember when Moses went up the mountain in Exodus to receive the 10 Commandments. As he was at the top of this mountain a cloud descended and God spoke, it was scary and people quaked. Moses spoke with God and asked to see his glory and we hear how God said “you can’t see my face but you can see my back“ so Moses gets hidden in the rock as God walks past. It’s this amazing picture of intimate relationship between God and Moses on the mountain. Then, when he comes down the mountain, his face was shining with the reflected glory of God. And there are all sorts of similarities with what happens in Mark 9.
 
Verse 3, as Jesus goes up the mountain his clothes become dazzling white. The Daz doorstep challenge has got nothing on Jesus at this point. Jesus is shining with this otherworldly brightness. Whereas Moses face shone with reflected glory, Jesus shines with the very glory of God. He radiates the glory of God. And you begin to think “wow, wait a second! Who is this guy?“
 
But it’s more than that, in verse 4 we see that ‘there appeared with him Moses and Elijah.’ Elijah and Moses both have these intimate conversations with God on mountain tops in the Old Testament. And here they are speaking with Jesus. A cloud comes later on, just as it was with Moses on the mountain.  But then before that you get Peters response.
 
I love Peters response! Verse 5 he said “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah. He didn’t know what to say, he was so frightened.” There is Peter, he is quaking just like the people in the Old Testament when he recognises who is standing before him.  How did he respond? “Let’s have a camping party!“… Well not quite! He says “let’s put up some shelters“ literally, the word there is ‘tabernacle’ (Tabernacle was that tent that they had in the old Testament so that God could be among his people, but kept a safe distance). 
 
Peter is recognising he is before God and so he is saying “I cannot come this close or I might die. I can’t get this close to God. Quick! Get a tabernacle, I cannot be this close!”…
 
…Only then, the cloud descends and it doesn’t just rest on Jesus or Moses. It envelops them! A voice from the cloud declared “this is my son whom I love“. 
 
This cloud comes down and enveloped them and they are literally enveloped in who God is. They hear what is going on in the very heart of God; God the Father declaring and pouring out his love for his son. And amazingly, Peter, James and John are there and don’t die. The cloud disappears, and they are left (verse 8) with only Jesus. You see, they don’t need priests and Tabernacles. All they need is Jesus and they are at the very heart of who God is. Imagine how cool that must have been for those disciples. What an encouragement when life was hard as Christians to hear that. 
 
But it might be that you’re thinking “that’s great, but what about me? What about 2021. I can’t go on a camping trip with Jesus today can I? And frankly life is pretty tough for me at the moment“ If that is you, we need to remember that this is only Mark chapter 9. There are a number of other chapters, significant chapters, that follow this in the book of Mark. And a few chapters later we see that Jesus has come down from this mountain and we find him walking up another hill. Jesus has come down from a mountain where he has been enveloped in God’s love; hearing the fathers love for him and he goes up another hill where we will hear Jesus saying “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?“ He was not enveloped but forsaken. 
 
On the other hill, he climbs up with cross in hand not to be clothed in glorious light, but to be naked under the cloud of darkness. Why? Because on that hill Jesus would take the hell on earth that is the cross. He would take all of that so that he can give us all that he has on this mountain. 
There Jesus is forsaken so that we might dwell in the very heart of who God is. 
 
The transfiguration shows us what our future is like as one day we too will shine with the very glory of God! As one day we too will be dressed all in white, because of what Jesus has done for us! As one day we too will hear the voice of the father saying “this is my daughter, this is my son who I love“ and he is talking about you and me. So when life is difficult what do we need to do? We need to look at the mountain and we need to look at the hill. We need to see what is ours in Christ Jesus I know that yes life now is hard but our future is bright (it’s not orange, no it’s radiant white). 
 
One guy who got this was a guy called Horatio Spafford. He was a businessman in the colonies (what is now the USA) and a fire devastated his business. He sent his wife and daughters back to the UK in order to start a new life back here. But on the way their boat sank and Horatio Spafford followed on, and at the very point where their boat sank the captain of the ship told Horatio, “this was where your daughters were lost.” And what did he do? He looked at the mountain and he looked at the hill and he wrote was become a very famous hymn. All it’s verses are amazing, but the last one finishes like this 
“and Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight, 
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll. 
The trumpet shall sound and the Lord shall descend,
 even so it is well with my soul”
 
He knew that because of what happened on the hill, that what happened on the mountain would be true with him.That one day he would be with Christ and reunited with his family. That one day he would hear, even after all the difficulties of this life, “this is my son who I love.” 
 
So when life is difficult for you, look to the hill and look to the mountain. See again what Christ has given up for you and see what Christ has given for you.

Lets take moment to reflect on all Ben has said as we listen to the hymn ‘All is well’

            What is God saying to you?

Witness

Prayers of Intercession

Take some time to pray for the people, places and situations that are on your hearts or use the words below before moving onto the Lord’s Prayer.

God of glory,
open our eyes and open our hearts.
Help us to see Jesus.

God of glory,
change us and renew us by your Spirit.
Make us more like Jesus

God of glory,
we see you in the beauty of the universe,
we meet you in the love of our friends and families,
we find you in our joys and in our pain –
faithful and true.
We see you revealed to us in Scripture,
we hear you speaking to us in the silence,
we know you in our hearts,
and we find you in the person of Jesus.
As we look at the events in our world,
help us to see where you are at work.
In our homes and in our daily lives,
help us to notice the glimpses of your glory
shining through the ordinary fabric of our lives.
You are the God who comes close to us:
though we are far apart from each other
Surround us with the light of your presence.

God of glory,
we live with so many uncertainties.
Today we pray for people whose lives are always uncertain:
for people in war torn parts of the world;
for all who wonder where their next meal will come from;
for people who are jobless or homeless;
for all who are fleeing from domestic violence.
Help us to make our churches sanctuaries of peace and safety.
May we be ready to respond to the need of others
and to do what we can to tell the story
of the love that will never let us go,
the love that can change us and the world.
Help us to love one another as you have loved us.
You are the God who comes close to us:
though we are far apart from each other
Surround us with the light of your presence.

God of glory,
we pray for situations in the world that need hope and healing.
And in particular for Yemen, for Russia, and for Myanmar.
We ask for words and actions that are full of hope and not hate,
of forgiveness and unity and not division.
May we all be mindful of the power of our words,
and use our speaking to build others up, not to tear them down.
When conflict comes may our words be controlled and kind,
and may we always shine a light of truth in the darkness of discord and lies.
As a second impeachment trial begins in the United States,
we ask that the truth would be told and honoured.
We pray for all who work in communications and the media,
that they would report with honesty and integrity,
and that they would use their roles to speak truth to power.
This week, may we seek to respond to the needs of others
with messages, words and actions of hope and comfort.
You are the God who comes close to us:
though we are far apart from each other
Surround us with the light of your presence.

God of glory,
we thank you for the tireless effort of nurses, doctors and consultants,
caring for patients, especially those who are suffering from Covid-19.
We ask that you would give all medical staff peace as they care for the sick,
and peace as many of them wait at the bedside of those who are at the end of life.
We thank you that the ordinary tasks of routine, order and gentleness
can bless the boundary between life and death.
As discussions begin about a future return to school,
we pray that the needs of children and young people would be central to the thinking.
We pray for all who have been kept apart from those they love;
for those who have not been able to mourn for friends and family who have died,
and we pray especially for relatives of people in care homes –
surround them all with your healing presence.
We remember people in our own communities who are suffering
asking that you would lighten the pain and distress of daily life.
You are the God who comes close to us:
though we are far apart from each other
Surround us with the light of your presence.

God of glory,
open our eyes and open our hearts.
Help us to see Jesus.

God of glory,
change us and renew us by your Spirit.
Make us more like Jesus. Amen.

Copyright 2002-2021, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved. Online ISSN: 2635-2818.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

Close

Closing Prayer

So as you step out into this new week, may God go with you and we pray

Lord Jesus, raise our expectations
of what it means to encounter God
not just in this place but in every place,
in all the places we shall be in the days ahead.
Help us every day to discover something new
about God’s ways, about what God wants of us –
and change the way we see the world,
and the way we act.
Amen.
Copyright 2002-2021, ROOTS for Churches Ltd. All rights reserved.

And may the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Amen.

 

Community

The community of S17 has drawn together during these unusual times in a very special way. This is reflected in the great work of the S17 COVID-19 Community Support group.

The group aims to support those in the community who may be in need and to provide a support network to the S17 community at this time.

“If there are needy people in our community let’s ensure we help them out with things like bringing shopping to their door.”

The Wardens of All Saints Totley have been producing regular newsletters with helpful links, thoughts and resources. The latest of these is here.

We have also started to add resources for the younger members of our church, to add to this virtual service. They can be found here, and here.

Reminder

If you have any feedback on this service or any other ideas, suggestions or contributions, for future services please do send these to comments@allsaintstotley.church