February 27, 2022 – Transfiguration Sunday
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Call to worship
One: Our God is mighty and merciful, ruling with kindness over all the earth;
All: Let all people praise God’s holy name.
One: The Lord loves justice and creates equity for all God’s people;
All: We come into God’s presence with thanksgiving, singing songs of joyful praise;
One: For the Christ of glory shines in this place;
All: The Holy Spirit meets us here, and so we come to worship.
Lighting of the Christ Candle
This is the Christ Candle. We light the candle to help us remember that Jesus Christ, the light of the world, is with us in every place and every time.
Prayers of Approach and Confession
God of grace and God of glory, you reveal your presence to the world in radiant glory and gentle whispers, on mountain tops and lowly plains, in classrooms and hospital beds, in homes and churches, in the silence of nature and the sounds of cities. Yours is the presence that pushes past our fears, yours is the touch that transforms our doubts. We come before you to celebrate your goodness, to focus on your light, and offer you all praise, honour and thanksgiving, for you are our God and we are your people, now and always.
God of mercy and forgiveness, facing the light of your goodness, we confess all that keeps us from sharing that goodness. We are distracted by the desire to have more than we need. We focus on our own disappointments rather than trust the future you create. We feel discouraged by the pandemic and fail to claim the hope you hold out to us in Christ. Transfigure us by your grace, and shape us into disciples who follow Christ’s leading each day.
Declaration of Pardon
Do not be afraid. God’s forgiveness shines into the world. The morning star rises in our hearts and we are made new. Know that you are forgiven and forgive one another in Christ’s name.
The Peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
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.
Søren Kierkegaard once wrote, “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” I also think that prayer is not about changing God but about allowing God to change us. I am not saying that has been my experience with my prayers always. I struggle with prayers. Sometimes I end up daydreaming instead of praying. Other times I end up complaining instead of listening. Yet, despite all my shortcomings in prayers, I believe when we pray, God prays with us, and God transforms our hearts.
I am going to read Luke 9:28–31,
“28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”
According to the gospel of Luke, it was while Jesus was praying; Peter, John and James witnessed Jesus being transfigured and transformed.
According to the gospel of Luke,
“It was not when Jesus was teaching a big crowd.
It was not when Jesus was feeding 5 thousand people with 2 fish and 5 loaves.
It was not when Jesus was raising Lazarus from death.
It was not when Jesus was healing the sick and dying.
It was not when Jesus was turning water into wine….
But it was when Jesus was praying, Jesus was transfigured.”
It was when Peter, John, and James were praying with Jesus, Jesus was transformed and they experienced something they could not comprehend with their human minds.
I believe the gospel of Luke reminds us the power of prayer… the power of the spiritual journey. What our prayer and faith bring to our human life… What kind of changes may we humans experience through our prayer and faith?
I am going to read verses 29 and 30, “And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.”
According to the gospel of Luke, when Jesus prayed, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white… and Moses and Elijah appeared and talked to Jesus.
I want us to think about the kind of transformation they witnessed on that day.
We humans communicate through spoken or written languages and through our eyes, silence, smile, tears, hands, voice, body language, and the way we dress.
I don’t think the change in the face and the clothes Jesus was wearing meant a cosmetic change or putting a superficial smile on his face, but the difference in the way Jesus communicated with God, the way God spoke to Jesus.
Faith is not just about figuring out what we want to know. Faith is not just about nurturing our human knowledge and intelligence but also nurturing courage, hope, patience and trust. Faith is also about deepening our love for God and for each other. Faith is not about grading our performance or accomplishment but celebrating God’s grace and forgiveness in our human hearts. There is this critical difference between knowing and doing what we know. There is this grave difference between knowing God and loving God. There is this serious difference between going to church and approaching God with humility and faith.
When Jesus prayed, Jesus was not alone. Jesus was with Moses and Elijah. Jesus was not just praying about Moses, Elijah, or others, but he was with them. Jesus was not just talking about God, but God was with Jesus. Sometimes our Christian faith becomes our personal property to earn and protect. Sometimes we approach our prayers as putting money into our saving account….Our prayer becomes our personal saving and individual ability to control God, but not our humble invitation and confession to God. Sometimes we are so busy talking about God, we forget to invite God to our life, our conversation and our situation. In the Bible, the prayer that moved God was that a sinner offered to God “God, have mercy on me.” I am not sharing this as someone who has figured out everything. But as someone who daily struggles, how do I deepen my relationship with Christ? How do I go beyond asking for this and that, how do I go beyond my desire to have control over God? I am sharing this sermon as someone knows that our prayers can be far more.
The Bible teaches us about prayers. I want to look at two essential teachings about prayers. First, Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” The book of Romans reminds us that prayers are not about what we say. Our prayers are not about how well we say things or how long we can pray but about trusting the Spirit of God helping us to pray. It is okay if we don’t know how to say prayers or what to say, but our willingness to come before God and humbly ask God to help us is more important than what we say.
Second, the prophet Jeremiah heard from God when he prayed (Jeremiah 33: 2–3) “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’”
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that prayer is about experiencing God in our life through our imperfection, struggles, brokenness, and poverty, not through our human ability and confidence. It is not about trusting our ability to articulate our prayers or to come up with beautiful words or to understand our needs clearly, but our prayers are about putting trusting God’s ability to understand our human hearts better than we do understand.
Yes, in our heart, own fear, guilt, anger and frustration can be found, but also this unquenchable fire God has placed in our heart, our unending desire for God and God’s love may be found. Prayer is about discovering God in our human hearts.
The gospel of Luke teaches us that It is when we pray we experience God. God offers us far more than what we want to know. It is when we pray we become free from our own pride, regret, fear, and darkness. It is when we pray, we learn to trust God, we learn to celebrate the kind of friendship Christ offers us.
Jesus was changed. His face, clothes, and appearance showed the kind of peace, love, trust, grace, and friendship he received from God. When Jesus prayed, Jesus was surrounded by Moses, Elijah and God. May we too, pray and experience the presence and grace of Christ Jesus we may not comprehend with our human minds?
“Doxology”. Music from the Genevan Psalter (16th century) attributed to French composer Louis Bourgeois (c. 1510–1559); this arrangement by American composer Mark Hayes (1953–). Music public domain. Arrangement copyright © 1990 Word Music, Inc, part of the Lorenz Corporation; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A. Performed on the keyboard by GCPC music director Rachelle Risling.
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Dedication of our Gifts
Prayer of dedication
Gracious God, you have given us life and blessed us in Christ with new life. Bless the gifts we offer today, and bless our lives, so that others may see his grace at work in us and what we offer the world in Jesus’ name.
Prayers of Thanksgiving and Hope & Lord’s Prayer (sins)
Revealing God, You bless us with your presence and wisdom, and we marvel at the wonders of your love. You created a beautiful world that reveals your majesty. You sent your Son to show us how to live with compassion. Your Holy Spirit guides us on our way. Thank you for opening our eyes to your presence each day. Help us to recognize you not only in mountaintop experiences, but also in everyday tasks and in times of great challenge.
Much in this world needs the transformation only you can provide. Where there is violence, bring calm; where there is poverty, send sustenance; where there is confusion, bring wisdom; where there is chaos, create order; where minds and hearts are troubled, bring comfort; where pain is crippling, grant release. Move the hearts of the rich to share with those in need; and call the powerful to act with justice for those at risk. Give us all the will to work for the wellbeing of the earth and to live with respect for the fragile balances within your creation. Hear us now in this time of silence as we raise to you the names and situations on our hearts this day:
Hear the cries of all who suffer and bring each one hope of new life with you.
Eternal God, we pray for your church around the world and for our congregation. Give your people the energy to shine wherever there is persecution, despair or discouragement. Bless each congregation with wisdom and vision, as we face the changes in the world caused by the pandemic. Renew our imagination and commitment to develop new forms of ministry and mission for the days ahead. Gather us as a people again after months of distancing, and inspire us with greater delight in your mystery, and greater joy in seeking your presence.
We ask all these things through Christ Jesus, who revealed your will to us through your revolutionary love, and taught us to pray these words together:
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.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever.
Changing the Light
Now, it is time to change the light. The light that was in one place can now be in every place and every time going with you wherever you go.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you always.
- “Go Now in Peace”. Words by American educator, lyricist and composer Don Besig (1936–) and American lyricist Nancy Price (1958–). Music by Don Besig. Words and music copyright © 1988 Harold Flammer Music, a division of Shawnee Press; used by permission of One License, license number 722141-A.
- Performed by Rachelle Risling (keyboard) and the GCPC Senior Choir. Audio and video production by Rachelle Risling.
- Audio and video recording copyright © 2021 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church.
Copyright © 2022 Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church
Last updated 2022-02-27 12:39 – First version.