Thursday, February 11, 2010

Worship for Transfiguration Sunday

Thursday after Epiphany 5
February 11, 2010

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday is the last Sunday in the Epiphany season, which is always celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday. It also happens to be the commemoration of St. Valentine, Martyr. The appointed lessons are Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Hebrews 3:1-6; and Luke 9:28-36. The sermon, based on the Gospel lesson, is titled “I Don’t Understand”. The actual text will be Luke 9:33. We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. There are five hymns in the “Transfiguration” section of our hymnal. Lamb of God knows one, “‘Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here” (LSB 414). This will be our sermon hymn. The hymnal review committee suggested that all of the four unknown hymns were worth learning, so we will begin learning one of them, “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory” (LSB 416). This will be our opening hymn Sunday, and we will use it each Sunday for a month. Our distribution hymns will be “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637), “I Leave All Things to God’s Direction” (LSB 719), and “Thine Forever, God of Love” (LSB 687). Our closing hymn will be “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing” (LSB 643). We will be using the first setting of the morning service for our liturgy (page 151).

There will be a Voters’ Meeting following tomorrows worship service. The main topic on the agenda is our budget. Due to the economy, last year was a lean year in reference to offerings. The Church Council is anticipating 2010 to be lean also. The budget reflects this. Therefore some tough decisions had to be made. It is especially important this year that everyone has a chance to see the budget and ask questions before it is approved. That is why a copy has been in your boxes for two weeks. So we can have maximum participation, the meeting will be held immediately after our worship service in the sanctuary.

Due to copyright restrictions, the hymn “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory” is not to be found at the “Better Noises” webpage, nor could I find a video for it. The same restriction prohibited “Better Noises” from posting the words for “Sent Forth by God’s Blessing,” but the site does have the tune. All other lyrics and tunes can be found at “Better Noises” (see the link on the right-hand side of this blog). I found a wonderful arrangement of “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” on YouTube, and the video is posted at the end of these notes.

Preview of the Lessons

Deuteronomy 34:1-12: This is quite literally the last chapter in the life of Moses. He was not permitted to lead the Israelites into Canaan. That privilege would be Joshua’s, his long-time second-in-command. (However Moses does get to stand in the Promised Land with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.) In Numbers 20:2-13 we find the story which led to Moses not being allowed to lead the people across the Jordan. The people were complaining about the lack of water, among other things. God tells Moses to command water to come forth from a rock. Instead Moses strikes the rock. The verdict is that Moses did not uphold the Lord as holy by not believing a mere word could accomplish what God said it would. Therefore he would not lead the people into the Promised Land. Many commentators magnify this incident (how horrible Moses’ act was!). Perhaps they are seeking to defend God; to justify God’s decision for what might seem like a small misstep on Moses’ part. Perhaps these commentators are correct. However there is another possibility. Passages like James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10 remind us that if we break one part of the Law, we break the whole Law. So all have sinned and fallen short, indeed all have broken the entire Law. That includes Moses, you and me. There are no exceptions so no one can earn eternal life. Moses, though, is the key man in the Old Testament. In this lesson we learn that the Lord gave him a special vision of the entire land the people would occupy. When Moses died, the Lord buried him. No one on earth knows where.

Hebrews 3:1-6: The big concern of the writer of the book of Hebrews is to encourage Jews to remain faithful to Jesus instead of returning to the Temple. Persecution of the Faith was increasing and an easy way to avoid that persecution would be to apostate from Christianity. Therefore this book is filled with contrasts with Jewish practices and traditions, demonstrating how they point to Jesus as types, and how the Christian Faith is therefore superior to the Faith of the Temple as much as the real thing is always superior to a picture of it. In this reading Jesus is compared to Moses (thus tying the passage to both the Old Testament reading and the Gospel lesson). Moses was faithful as a steward or servant is faithful. Jesus is faithful as the Son. Moses is a slave in the building (the Church), Jesus though is the faithful Son of the builder. Moses pointed to the future, and that future is Jesus.

Luke 9:28-36: The sermon is based on this reading so I’ll not say much. In it Jesus, along with Peter, James and John, ascend a mountain where Jesus is “transfigured.” Moses and Elijah appear and carry on a conversation with the Lord. Moses represents the Law and is the foremost of the writing prophets. Elijah represents the prophets and is the foremost of the non-writing prophets. This story basically marks the end of the first half of Jesus ministry. From this point on his face is set towards Jerusalem and his crucifixion. The disciples reach their panicle of pre-resurrection understanding in Luke 9:18-22 and then rapidly become more and more confused. It is not until the resurrection, and Pentecost, that things really snap into place for them. The disciples are sometimes faulted for this. However there is at least one admirable thing here. Even though they were clueless, they continue to follow Jesus. When our way is dark, we should remember Jesus is our light and continue to follow him.

Sunday’s Collect

O God, in the glorious transfiguration of Your beloved Son You confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of Moses and Elijah. In the voice that came from the bright cloud You wonderfully foreshowed our adoption by grace. Mercifully make us co-heirs with the King in His glory and bring us to the fullness of our inheritance in heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Gradual (Psalm 117:1-2a; 96:8)

Praise the LORD, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love towards us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!

Verse (Psalm 45:2a)

Alleluia. You are the most handsome of the sons of men; grace is poured upon your lips. Alleluia.

Introit (Psalm 84:1-2, 9, 11; antiphon: Psalm 84:4)

Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!
How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

P.S. Remember tonight, from 5:00 to 8:00 you can come to church and have a wonderful spaghetti dinner while helping to support our Cub Scout pack. The cost is $5.00 per person, with no family being charged more than $20.00.

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