Worship Service for February 14, 2021

February 14, 2021 – Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

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Welcome message from the Rev. Helen Smith

Welcome Message in spoken audio by the Rev. H. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to worship. While we sit by our televisions or radios and wait for announcements about announcements, our work and worship continues, albeit in very different ways.  It will be wonderful when we can get together for in person worship, but in the meantime … let us worship in whatever way we can, safely, separately, yet bound by the Spirit.

Rev. Helen Smith

Call to Worship

Call to worship in spoken audio by the Rev. H. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening and responding.

Leader: Let’s go up to the mountain to pray.
People:  Let’s go up to the place where the earth touches the heavens.
Leader:  Let’s go up to the place of listening
All:  Let us go up to the mountain of God.

Opening Hymn

Book of Praise – 500 “Open my eyes that I may see

graphic of a movie film reel
Click to listen to or sing along with the hymn at YouTube.
  • Video with on-screen words, identical to the words in the hymnbook.
  • Words and music completed in 1895 by American composer and hymn-writer Clara H. Scott (1841–1897); both in the public domain.
  • This recording by the Joslin Grove Choral Society.

Prayers of Approach and Confession

Prayers of Approach and Confession, the Pardon and the Peace in spoken audio by the Rev. H. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening and responding.

We worship you, O God with songs of praise.  We worship you with words of prayer and with ears that listen for you to speak your saving truth into our lives.  We worship you in the silent spaces where we struggle for hope and for courage.

A time of silence

God of mercy and forgiveness, we come confessing that which keeps us from living fully into your presence.  Forgive us for drowning out your message with our greed and our pride; for lingering in our own disappointments and anger rather than following you with joy and dedication; for failing to hear your voice leading us into the hope that you offer.  Unplug our ears.  Transfigure us by your grace.  Mold our will to yours so we can live more closely with you and one another.  It is in Jesus’ name we pray, and continue to pray with the prayer he taught:

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 forever. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

“From his fulness we have all received, grace upon grace.” (John 1: 16) Thanks be to God for forgiveness and new life.

The Peace

The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Scripture reading

Scripture reading of Luke 9: 28–36 read by Cindy Similas. Click on the triangle at left to start listening.

Luke 9: 28–36 <– this links to on-line text of the NRSV bible

Click here for additional scripture readings from today’s lectionary. Links courtesy of the Revised Common Lectionary, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.


The story of the transfiguration.  It is a strange story.  One that Peter remembered enough to recall it in one of his letters to the churches. (2 Peter 1: 16-18).  And that probably prompted Mark to put it in his gospel, which led Luke and Matthew to include it in their gospels.

It is usually a visual thing.  We see Jesus and three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, climb a high mountain.  Luke’s account has the disciples tired after the long climb, weighed down with sleep while Jesus prays. Perhaps this is a bit of foreshadowing of Jesus’ prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane. The groggy disciples have a vision of Jesus, standing before them, with his clothes a dazzling white. And Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, are there with Jesus, the one who fulfils Israel’s laws and prophecies.  This sight is so terrifying that Peter doesn’t know what to say and babbles on about building some shelters for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Then a cloud blocks out the light and Moses and Elijah are no longer there, only Jesus.  That’s how we see the Transfiguration.

What about closing our eyes and listening? Do we hear the birds singing at the bottom of the mountain, and maybe some grunts and groans from the four as they make the climb?  Then there is the sound of Jesus praying and the sound of the disciples snoring.  Then the silence, the deafening silence wakes up the disciples. They and we hear Jesus talking to two men, Moses and Elijah.  They are talking about Jesus’ “departure”, which he is about to accomplish in Jerusalem.  The word Luke uses is “exodus”.  It is the same word we use to talk about the movement of the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. When we listen to the transfiguration, is Luke telling us that what Jesus will accomplish in Jerusalem is like an exodus, a movement from slavery to freedom?

Peter, as is often the case, doesn’t get it.  There will be no going to Jerusalem if he has his way. He wants to keep those three around, so we hear him talking about building shelters for them. Then we hear more deafening silence as the cloud comes to block out the light.  And from the cloud we hear a voice, like the voice at Jesus’ baptism, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” And then silence again.

This is my Son my Chosen; listen to him.

Please, please, please, listen to him.  Because they have only been half listening.  Just before this trip up the mountain, we hear Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s anointed one, the one who has come to save, to lead from slavery to the promised land.  And Jesus responds that in order to do that he must suffer and be rejected, indeed killed, but on the third day be raised. We hear through Matthew and Mark that Peter ignores the last bit, or doesn’t hear it, and just blusters out, “Not you, Lord, no, this must never happen to you.” And Jesus answers, “Get behind me, Satan, setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

Are we listening?  We can so easily drop into our daily routines without a thought about the presence of God that undergirds us, without any real awareness of the power that surrounds us and holds us up.  We have work to do.  We have kids to get to their virtual classroom.  We have to figure out how we can continue to adjust to life during this pandemic without losing our minds.

And in all of that we can lose track of whose we are, of being attentive to God.  Yes, during these times we may take time to talk to God, to pray on a regular basis, to ask God for help, if not for ourselves, then for others.  That is all good.

But today, on this Sunday of Transfiguration, we are being asked to listen.

How many of us in our time of prayer stop talking, stop reading, stop thinking about what concerns us, and simply listen? Listen to the point where you can hear your pulse beating in your ears and feel the air moving steadily and strongly in and out of your lungs.  Listen to the point where images began to dance on the back of your eyelids and the Spirit begins to put words upon your hearts, words that come from somewhere deep within you, where the Spirit prays with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8: 26)

“Listen to the son”, God said to the disciples and to us.

Listen to him as he says, “I am the good shepherd, and I lay down my life for the sheep, for you” and “I have come that you may have life in abundance.”  “I am the bread of life.”  “I am the resurrection and the life.”

What is that life like?

Listen to him.  “whoever welcomes a child in my name, welcomes me.”  Whoever welcomes a child, doesn’t complain about how they are making a mess or too noisy, that is what that life is like.  He says “The least among all of you is the greatest.” Who are the least among us?  And when we serve them, we serve Christ. Remember the parable of the sheep and the goats? (Matthew 25: 40) That is what that life is like.  He says, “Love your neighbour. Love your enemies.  Pray for those who persecute you. Do not judge.”  Listen to his direction to deny ourselves, to park our ego at the door, and take up the cross daily, follow him every day.  That is what that life is like.

Listen to him.  In these days of fearfulness, of great uncertainly, we may hear only the discordant noises of the world. On that mountain, God calls us to listen to God’s son.   Listen to what Jesus said to his disciples the night he was betrayed: “The advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”  (John 14:26, 27)

Listen to the Son. John’s gospel refers to Jesus as God’s Word, as the Word God speaks.  Listen until God speaks God’s Word, until God graces us with a dream or a song, or a poem, or a set of words, or an experience where God’s will is revealed to us. For in listening we ourselves will be transformed, and God’s perfect Word will turn our fearfulness, our uncertainty, our dissonance, our discord, into the harmony of congruence, of joy.

Musical Meditation

“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” performed by Rachelle Risling. Click on the white triangle in the orange circle to start listening.
  • “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Words (1855) by Irish-Canadian poet Joseph M. Scriven (1819–1886). Music (1868; tune: “What a friend”) by American lawyer and composer Charles Crozat Converse (1832–1918). Words and music in the public domain. This arrangement copyright © 2021 Rachelle Risling; used by permission.
  • Performed on the keyboard by GCPC Music Director Rachelle Risling.
  • Audio recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.


We remind everyone that we must continue to pay our bills; in the absence of Sunday worship, you may sign up for pre-authorized remittance (PAR), donate online, or drop off your offering envelope in the mailbox at the church. Do not leave a cash donation unattended in the mailbox; instead, please call the office (416.261.4037) to ensure someone will be there to receive it. The building will be checked daily for mail and phone messages. If you are not comfortable leaving an envelope, you are welcome to contact the office (once again, 416.261.4037) and someone will pick up your offering.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope in spoken audio by the Rev. H. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening and responding.

Great giving God, we marvel at the wonders of your love.  You bless us with your presence and wisdom.  You created a beautiful world that reveals your majesty. Your Holy Spirit guides us and you sent your Son to teach us how to live with compassion. Thanks be to you, O God.

We give thanks for all who are working hard to move us through these trying days.  For those who keep in contact with us, for those who stock the shelves of the grocery stores, for those who work in health care, for those who are working to bring us the vaccines, for teachers and students working through technology.  For all those who are helping us, we thank you.

Help us to listen for you, not only in mountaintop experiences but also in the everyday tasks of life.

We pray for those who are struggling to pay their rent, those who have lost their jobs, or had their work reduced.  For all who have suffered economically in these days, O God, we pray for a resolution of their hardship.

For those who are ill of body, mind, or soul, we pray O God for your healing presence. For those who mourn the death of loved ones, we pray for your comforting arms around them.

Loving God, there is much in this world that needs the transformation only your word can provide.  Where there is violence, instill your peace; where there is confusion, bring wisdom; where there is chaos, bring order.  Transfigure the hearts of the rich to share, the wills of the powerful to act with justice. Hear the cries of all who suffer and fill them with the hope of new life with you.

Eternal God, we pray for the church universal and our own congregation here at Guildwood.   Give to your people everywhere the energy to provide harmony where there is discord.  Give us all a greater love of your holiness, a greater delight in your mystery, and a greater joy in listening for your Word.

We pray in the name of the Living Word, your Chosen One, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Closing Hymn

Book of Praise – 442 “Speak, Lord, in the stillness

graphic of a movie film reel
Click to listen to or sing along with the hymn at YouTube.
  • Video with on-screen words, identical to those in the hymnbook.
  • Words (written 1896; published 1920) by English author and missionary Emily May Grimes Crawford (1864–1927). Music (tune: Caswall {Bremerton}) first published in 1847 by German composer Friedrich Filitz (1804–1876). Words and music in the public domain.
  • Performed by the virtual Senior Choir, with keyboard and music production by GCPC Music Director Rachelle Risling.
  • This recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.


Benediction in spoken audio by Rev. H. Smith. Click on the triangle at left to start listening.

May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing so that you may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen. (Romans 15: 13)

Choral Amen

Danish Choral Amen. Book of Praise 780. Music director Rachelle Risling (keyboard); Robert Quickert (vocals). Click triangle at left to begin listening.

Copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church

Last updated on 2021-02-14 at 21:45 – Removed duplicated Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope section.