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Transfiguration of Our Lord

This Is My Son, the Beloved: Listen to Him!

A Meditation By Pastor Neil

Some of the lectionary scripture passages are forever going to be a challenge for me. The Transfiguration is one of them. Many scholars are fairly united in the view that the Transfiguration was an alternate story of Jesus’ resurrection. The story is an ancient text, but early biblical theologians couldn’t exactly figure out where to put it. The passion story is guts, blood, suffering, and sweat. The Transfiguration is glory, light, awe, and poetry. There is nothing poetic about the crucifixion. What came down to us is that there is room both for transfiguration and resurrection.

Undoubtedly, the transfiguration is an earth-shattering illustration of Jesus’ personhood and mission. I take the transfiguration at face value and preach it consonant to the traditions of ancient understanding and proclamation. The transfiguration reflects, in the words of the book of Revelation, “blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power.”

Jesus’ revelation is about God’s commitment to redeem humanity. Moses is the great lawgiver. Elijah is the prophet who did not die but was taken directly into heaven, who will ride to rescue us at the end of time. The apostles were called to witness Jesus in his central role in salvation history. Jesus stands at the top of the hosts of heaven, appearing vastly more divine than human.

God becomes central to the theology of this event by declaring Jesus as his son. Jesus has words of truth and consolation, and we must listen to him. This is also the revelation from God’s voice at Jesus’ baptism. So stunned were the apostles that they threw themselves on the ground and hid their eyes, so that when they finally came to, Jesus was standing on the mountaintop by himself, almost as if nothing had happened. But the fact is, as we know, we can’t unsee or unhear what we have been witnesses to. The apostles had indeed witnessed the full mystery of the transfiguration.

We have seen these things not on that craggy summit but rather in our hearts. We too are poets of the transfiguration and witnesses to the truth. We are crucial to that salvation story that lifts us all in its radiance. And like the apostles, Jesus has commissioned us to carry the truth to the world about who Jesus is and what he means.

Pastor Neil

Sign of the Cross

Celebrant    We gather together, as we live, …

People        In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Celebrant   Blessed be God.

 People         And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen.

 Celebrant    Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you, no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name.

People         Amen.

 

Opening Dialogue

Celebrant    From the rising of the sun to its setting my Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place incense shall be offered to my Name, and a pure offering: for my Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.   Amen.

Celebrant   Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the almighty.

People         Just and true are your ways, O Sovereign of the nations.

 Celebrant   Who shall not revere and praise your name, O Lord, for you alone are holy.

People         All nations shall come and worship in your presence for your just dealings have been revealed.

Celebrant    To the One who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb,

People         Be blessing and honor, glory, and might, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Collect of the Day

Celebrant    Let us pray: O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Confession

Celebrant    Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.

Silence may be kept.

Officiant and People together

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk-in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.

 

Steadfast Love

Celebrant    The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases: God’s mercies never come to an end.

People         They are new every morning; your faithfulness, O Lord, is great.

 Celebrant    You are all that I have, and therefore I will wait for you.

People         You, O Lord, are good to those who wait for you, to all who seek you.

Celebrant    It is good to wait in patience for the salvation of the Lord.

People         Glory to the Father and Son and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever. Amen.

 

 

 

A Reading from 2 Kings at the 2nd Chapter

Elijah Is Taken Up to Heaven

Reader        A Reading from Second Kings

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other until the two of them crossed on dry ground.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.

Reader        The Word of the Lord.

 People         Thanks be to God.

 

Reader        From Psalm 50, proclaimed responsively

The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.

Our God comes and does not keep silent, before him is a devouring fire and a mighty tempest all around him.

He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people:

“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”

The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge.

 

 A Reading from the Gospel of Mark, at the 9th chapter

To See Jesus and To Hear God—Completely

 Celebrant    The holy gospel according to Mark

People         Glory to you, O Lord.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

Celebrant    The Gospel of the Lord.

People         Praise to you, Lord Christ.

 

Meditation                                                                       Pastor Neil

 

At the end of the sermon:

Celebrant: Let us bless the Lord.

People: Thanks be to God.

 

Psalm 34 said responsively

I will bless the LORD at all times;

God’s praise shall continually be in my mouth.

  My soul makes its boast in the LORD;

let the humble hear and be glad.

 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt God’s name together.

I sought the LORD, and God answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

 Look to God, and be radiant; so, your face shall never be ashamed.

This poor soul cried, and was heard by the LORD, and was saved from every trouble.

 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear God and delivers them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.

 

On Behalf of The People of God

Let the people of God glorify the Lord,  praise him, and highly exalt him forever.

Glorify the Lord, O priests, and servants of the Lord, praise him and highly exalt him forever.

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous, praise him, and highly exalt him forever.

You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord, praise him, and highly exalt him forever.

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; praise him and highly exalt him forever.

In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord,  praise him, and highly exalt him forever.

 

Glory to God    Gloria in Excelsis

Celebrant and People

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
Almighty God and Father,

 we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth;
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day, he rose again.
He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Suffrages

Celebrant       Show us your mercy, O Lord;
People              And grant us your salvation.

Celebrant       Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
People              Let your people sing with joy.

Celebrant      Give peace, O Lord, to all the world;
People             For only in you can we live in safety.

Celebrant      Lord, keep this nation and world under your care;
People             And guide us in the way of justice and truth.


Celebrant      Let your way be known upon earth;
People             Your saving health among all nations.

Celebrant      Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
People             Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.

Celebrant      Create in us clean hearts, O God;
People             And sustain us with your Holy Spirit.

 

Collects

Celebrant              Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray to you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you and may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Celebrant              Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Celebrant             O ruler of earth and nations, guide our country under the leadership of a new president and vice-president, as well as many other offices of public service, that require wisdom and responsibility. Make all of us discerning of your will and give the strength necessary to make our earthly kingdoms a reflection of your heavenly Kingdom of God. Lead us to the place we need to be, most particularly when we invariably go in the wrong direction and stumble in the dark. Amen.

Celebrant              O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

The General Thanksgiving

Celebrant and People

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

Celebrant    Let us bless the Lord.
People        Thanks be to God.

 

The Blessing

Celebrant             Sisters and brothers, we go out into the world in peace. We live and walk as part of God’s beloved community. May God help us all to be of good courage, to hold on to what is good, and to return to no one an evil for an evil. Strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, aid the suffering, do justice and hope, honor all people, and let our gentleness be known by everyone. May God, who raised our Lord Jesus from death, lift us up and restore us to wholeness. And may God bless us all, ☩ in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Celebrant    Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People         Thanks be to God.

 

MORE ON THE ARTWORK ON THIS BULLETIN’S COVER This detail shows the transfigured Christ. The artist Duccio has applied lines of gold highlight to Christ’s garment with great skill, to make the effect of the transfiguration very vivid. (The image on the front of the bulletin is about the size of Jesus’ figure in the original.) In the painting, Peter, John, and James, with Moses and Elijah, surround Christ, who is standing immobile in his lavishly highlighted robe. Duccio di Buoninsegna was an Italian painter active in Siena, Tuscany, in the late 13th and early 14th century. He was hired throughout his life to complete many important works in government and religious buildings around Italy. He typically painted on wood panels, embellished with gold leaf. This painting was a small (roughly 17 inches square) in a much larger work: a two-sided altarpiece that was placed over the high altar in the Sienna Cathedral. People could see both front and back. In the late 1770s, the altarpiece was disassembled into its constituent panels and dispersed. When the altarpiece was completed in 1311, it was carried in a festive procession throughout the streets of Siena to the cathedral, where it became the focus of the Siena’s devotion to the Virgin Mary, who was considered the protector of the city. The Maestà, or altarpiece, was commissioned by the cathedral authorities, many of whom were members of the city’s council. It was an important statement of Siena’s civic pride as well as the focus of its religious devotion to the Virgin Mary, its protectress. The altarpiece was commissioned to adorn a new high altar which was under construction from the late thirteenth century when the cathedral was being rebuilt. The ceremonial procession was accompanied by musicians and lit up with lamps and candles. It is likely that the congregation had access to both sides. By 1506 the altarpiece had been removed from the high altar, and in the late eighteenth century, it was sawn in half. Fragments were sold and are now scattered across international collections; a few are now missing. The majority of it remains to be seen in the Museo dell’opera del Duomo in Siena.