Thursday, February 16, 2012

Worship for Transfiguration Sunday - 2012

Commemoration of Philipp Melanchthon (birth), Confessor
February 16, 2012

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday has two names, the Last Sunday after the Epiphany and Transfiguration Sunday. The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is always Transfiguration Sunday just like the First Sunday after the Epiphany is always the Baptism of Our Lord. I guess it isn’t hard to guess what the Gospel lesson will be about this Sunday.

We will be using Matins for our liturgy (page 219). During the service, right after the offering and just before our prayers, we will be blessing our new Stations of the Cross. The liturgy we will use for this is found in the Lutheran Service Book: Agenda. This is a book pastors have which includes liturgies for rites and such which happen in churches, but not very often (like installing a pastor, laying a cornerstone, blessing art work or a home, blessing new hymnals or other worship books, installing a new Synod President, and so on). As Saint Paul told Timothy that “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4) it is most appropriate that we receive these Stations of the Cross with thanksgiving, blessing their use with the word of God and prayer as we begin our general prayers. The liturgy will be printed out on an insert. After the service they will be posted in your yard for all to use.

Our appointed lessons for Sunday are: Exodus 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3:12-18; 4:1-6; and Mark 9:2-9. The appointed Psalm is Psalm 50:1-6 (antiphon verse 2). Our opening hymn will be “‘Tis Good, Lord, to Be Here,” (LSB 414). Our sermon hymn will be “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory,” (LSB 416). Our closing hymn will be “Within the Father’s House,” (LSB 410). The sermon will be based on Mark 9:4 and is titled “The OT Fulfilled.”

In our prayers Sunday we will remember the Gutnius Lutheran Church (GLC) in Papua New Guinea (the word Gutnius means “Good News”) and their Head Bishop, Rev. David P. Piso. We will remember again Jack and Cathy Carlos, missionaries in Guinea West Africa. We will remember the persecuted believers in Comoros (a series of islands in the India Ocean off the coast of Africa) and our sister congregations: Resurrection, Cary, NC; Redeemer, Catawba, NC; Advent, Chapel Hill, NC; Abundant Live, Charlotte, NC; and Bethlehem, Aiken, SC. We remember the orphans in Haiti that our youth are seeking to help. We also will continue to remember those who are trapped by the modern practice of slavery, and those who have fallen victim to our cultures acceptance of abortion and advocacy of sexual immorality.

The video below is of our sermon hymn, “Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory,” being sung by a congregation in Michigan. Words are included.

Our adult Bible class meets at 9:00 Sunday morning. This Sunday we will pick up at Matthew 14:1. As always, everyone is invited to come.

Preview of the Lessons

Exodus 34:29-35: This is the story about Moses, when he came down from Mt Sinai with the replacement set of the Ten Commandments. To everyone’s astonishment, his face was glowing after being in the presence of God. After this Moses took to wearing a veil over his face. However he would take the veil off when he went into the tabernacle to meet with the Lord, replacing it after he relayed to the people what God had said. Moses doesn’t say if his face ever ceased to be radiant. This is a traditional Old Testament lesson for Transfiguration Sunday for two reasons. First, Moses is one of the two Old Testament figures that appeared with Jesus when our Lord was transfigured, talking about his upcoming crucifixion. The second reason is that Moses himself, to a lesser degree, was transfigured. Moses, though, radiated a borrowed light, something he received from being in the presence of God. We might think of it as the light of the moon, which is a reflection of the light from the sun. Jesus, on the other hand, simply let his own glory, which he had with the Father and the Holy Spirit before all time, shine through a bit. In this look at Moses we also get a peek at what we will be like when we live in the presence of the Lord in the world to come.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18; 4:1-6: This is the end of chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4. Paul is building on our Old Testament lesson. Most understand verse 13 as indicating that the radiance of Moses faded over time, being reenergized each time he entered the presence of the Lord. Moses certainly does not deny this and so the natural reading of 2 Corinthians 3:13 should stand. Paul uses this event as a metaphor in two ways. First, those who do not understand and come to faith in Christ continue to have a veil over their hearts. Second, the glory that Moses received is a foretaste of the glory we will all have in the resurrection. It is a glory believers in Christ currently possess in beginning stages. As we grow in our faith we are actually growing in that glory, being transformed ourselves into the image of Christ, who is the perfect image of the Father. Paul goes on to say that this inspires us in our ministry. Inspiration is a tricky thing. If we are inspired by something unworthy, the inspiration can lead to great disappointment. We are inspired by that which cannot disappoint, our Lord Jesus and the promises attached to him. Therefore rejecting the shameful things of the world is not a burden, but a blessing, a freedom those outside the faith lack. Also, living for Christ is not a burden, but a blessing. It is a freedom those outside the faith lack.

Mark 9:2-9: This is Mark’s account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Many of the details we automatically think of about this even are omitted by Mark. Mark is, in fact, the shortest of the four Gospels and one of his features is the speed in which he presents things. Here we are told precisely that this took place six days after Peter’s great confession and Jesus begins to tell his disciples more plainly about his upcoming death and resurrection. Omitted are details like Jesus was praying when his transfiguration began and Moses and Elisha were talking about Jesus upcoming death and resurrection. In Mark’s account Jesus, Peter, James, and John go up the mountain. Jesus is transfigured, shining with some of the radiance which is his be virtue of being God, the two great Old Testament saints, Moses and Elijah appear and they have a conversation, Peter blurts out his idea of building structures for the three, the Father’s voice comes from a cloud, identifying Jesus as His Son and telling us to listen to him, the disciples are terrified by everything, then, suddenly, Moses and Elijah are gone. Jesus tells the three disciples to not tell anyone about the event until after his resurrection. One thought in Mark’s text I will not be bringing out in the sermon is the whole idea of glory. The disciples see what is going on and Peter wants to erect three tents. Peter, no doubt, thought he might capture the moment. This would be something spectacular. But Jesus returns to his mundane appearance and teaches about his death and resurrection. This is where the glory of God is truly manifested. Not so much in radiant splendor, but in the suffering and death of Jesus.


• Information for the March newsletter is due Sunday. You can put it in Kitty’s box, hand it to her, or e-mail it to her.

• As mentioned above, our Stations of the Cross will be dedicated in the worship service Sunday. After the service they will be mounted on polls in our yard. Devotional booklets will be placed in our literature box, down by our mailbox, to guide anyone interested through them as a form of personal devotion. This can be an excellent exercise for you to participate in with a friend who needs to know more about Jesus and the central place he has in the Christian Faith.

• Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. We will have two worship services. The first is at 12:15 and lasts about half an hour. It is great for those who don’t like to drive at night or wish to worship on their lunch hour. The second begins at 7:00 PM, and lasts 45 minutes or so. This is preceded by a Soup Supper, which begins at 6:15 PM. (Our youth will be selling desserts to raise money for the orphans in Haiti.) The focus of the homilies will be our Stations of the Cross.

Choir practice will resume, following the evening Ash Wednesday service.

• Today is the Commemoration of Philipp Melanchthon (birth), Confessor. He was truly a remarkable man. A post has already been placed on this blog.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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