Service for Sunday 14/02/2021

Posted by Barbara Nadin on 11 February 2021

Melbourne URC Morning Service 14th February 2021

10.30am

Sunday next before Lent.

The Transfiguration.

Please read the service slowly to yourselves savouring the words.

You will need your Bible and a candle to light.

To begin, please open your Bible and place it where you can see it.

Welcome

Today we come together in our separate homes to worship our Lord, remembering that nothing can separate us from Jesus.  In him we are together and we worship together.  In these difficult times we might yearn for some different scenery, I know I do.  Perhaps a walk on the beach or a trip to the hills and mountains would lift our spirits – if only we could! But the disciples had no such restrictions and today, as we come to our gospel reading we will find some of them with Jesus on the Mount of the Transfiguration.

So as we prepare ourselves to worship let us pray.

Upon a high mountain, O God of majestic glory,

You revealed us Jesus in the mystery of his transfiguration

As your Son, the Beloved, to whom we must listen.

By the word of his gospel, shining for ever as a light in the darkness,

Give us hope in the midst of suffering and uncertainty,

And faith to perceive even in the passion and the cross, the glory of the risen Christ.

Amen.

Hymn

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes,
most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

 

 

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might,
thy justice like mountains high soaring above
thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life thou givest, to both great and small.
In all life thou livest, the true life of all.
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.

Great God of all glory, great God of all light,
thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight.
All praise we would render; O help us to see
‘tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

 

Please light your own peace candle and read the following prayer.

We light this candle for peace in a world of broken promises.  Let your light shine in places where we have heard again this week words of violence and the drums of war.  Be a beacon of hope to those who despair, a warming fire to those who are weary, and transform the world we live in.

God of peace and freedom, we welcome you in our midst.

We praise you for your love which surpasses all understanding

We praise you for who you are – now and forever.

Amen

Confession :

As we pray so we confess our failings:

God has rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we find light and have redemption in the forgiveness of sins.

So let us confess our sins trusting in God’s redeeming love.

For the times we sin against you without knowing what it is we are doing.

Lord have mercy

For the times we sin against you careless of our words and actions.

Christ have mercy.

For the times we sin against you by deliberately choosing our way and not yours.

Lord have mercy.

Listen to the words of Christ, words that we can trust “Don’t be afraid, your sins are forgiven, I love you, come take up your cross and follow  me.” Thanks be to God amen.

We say together the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ taught us:

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, the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

 

1st Reading.     2 Corinthians 4.3-6

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

We read or sing our second hymn.

Open our eyes Lord,

we want to see Jesus –

to reach out and touch him

and say that we love him.

Open our ears Lord,

and help us to listen;

O open our eyes, Lord,

we want to see Jesus.

2nd Reading.  Mark 9.2-9. The Transfiguration

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 any more, 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.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

Holy Bible NRSV.

We read or sing our third hymn.

Meekness and majesty, manhood and deity,
in perfect harmony, the man who is God:
Lord of eternity dwells in humanity,
kneels in humility, and washes our feet.

Oh, what a mystery, meekness and majesty:
bow down and worship, for this is your God,
this is your God!

Father’s pure radiance, perfect in innocence,
yet learns obedience to death on a cross:
suffering to give us life, conquering through sacrifice;
and, as they crucify, prays ‘Father, forgive.’
Oh what a mystery…

 

Wisdom unsearchable, God the invisible,
Love indestructible in frailty appears.
Lord of infinity, stooping so tenderly,
lifts our humanity to the heights of his throne.    Oh what a mystery…
 

Reflection :  Mark 9 2-9  The Transfiguration.

May I speak in the name of the living God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

In my previous occupation I had quite a lot to do with buildings. All sorts of buildings; Train Depots, Bridges, Signal Boxes, Stations, tunnels, crossing keepers accommodation, then college housing and a college campus.  They were all quite different yet they all had several things in common. In most cases they were there for a reason, they were functional, and they were part of the structure of our society.

So with that as a corner stone I eventually trained for ordination and developed an interest in buildings as sacred space. 

One of the things which interested me were what are sometimes called “Thin Places” Thin Places. Places where heaven and earth are so close together that every so often, for brief moments, they touch.

George McCleod of Iona was one of the first people to coin the phrase “Thin Place” and he attributed it to Iona, not just the Abbey, but the whole of the Island. Those of you who have been there might appreciate what he was trying to describe.

You might also have the same appreciation of a Thin place on Holy Island – and those who go there will have their own special memories of how the place speaks of the closeness of God. My most profound experience there was on the two evenings when we crossed over to St Cuthbert’s Island at sunset. The presence of God was so tangible in the ruins of the chapel that you felt as if you could just reach out and touch.

Yet it would be wrong to assume that “thin Places” are always beautiful or peaceful because the ultimate in “Thin Places” is Calvary when heaven and earth meet on the cross and later in an empty tomb. Sometimes it is in the brokenness of the world that God can be found to be seriously present and heaven just a finger- tip away. So  it is in both the beauty and the brokenness of the world that we find those “Thin Places”  Beautiful places where God loves to be and broken places where he has to be because of the human experiences which breaks his heart, and I would want to suggest that today God is here in the brokenness of Covid.

And as Christians we have to hold in tension the idea that God is everywhere and yet God is always somewhere in particular and is perhaps more findable in some places than he is in others.  And we ought not to be lulled into a false sense of security as to where that somewhere might be.

I wonder how often we fail to see God and fail to acknowledge the closeness of his kingdom simply because it’s in the unexpected. And how often we feel empty and rejected when we don’t sense that presence in the places and situations where we expect to find him. Throughout the old Testament there are numerous occasions where God’s presence has been found on earth.  Adam and Eve hear his voice in the morning quiet of a garden. Abraham comes across God in a burning bush. Noah sees the rainbow and finds God’s promise. Moses climbs the mountain and up into the clouds to be given the ten commandments. Jacob lies down to sleep and has a dream in which he sees a ladder set between earth and heaven. Adam, Eve, Abraham, Noah, Moses, Jacob, are, in fact, in boundary lands, thin places; places where heaven and earth are so close that they reach out and touch.

In the New Testament we have a child, Jesus Christ, born in a stable. A stable identified by a strange star so different to all the others that it attracts the attention of the wize men from the East. The baby visits a temple for the rite of purification. It’s an everyday occurrence yet somehow that baby is so special, so different, that when Zachariah looks at him he knows that he has held the Son of God.

A storm arises on a lake. A strange violent storm. And then a strange and profound calm, and a stillness which tells Peter that this is no ordinary friend. Later after the unearthly darkness of the garden of Gethsemene come the violent, storms and strange darkness of calvary and the ethereal stillness of an early morning light at daybreak.  But today, in our gospel reading, we are just before that.  Jesus is in turmoil. He is facing Jerusalem for the last time. He knows he is going to die. Death and resurrection are getting closer. He probably finds speaking about it terribly difficult because no one will understand so he takes his friends to a mountaintop and there he is transfigured before them and his clothes became dazzling white.

Transfiguration is a clothing in light. A light that is a thread through all of the Bible. A light that brings into view all that is holy. A light that identifies God’s presence from the very beginning when God said “let there be light”  and there was light.

Now Peter and the disciples see that light shining through Jesus Christ and into Jesus’s despair and their confusion comes a reassuring voice from heaven saying “This is my Son, the beloved, listen to him”

When a light shines in the darkness of this world it tells of the presence of one Holy God. Like the candles we use in our churches and the one we have lit today a delicate yet powerful light shines into our lives.  Our little lights represent the transforming light of God breaking though into this world and remind us of Jesus.

The light which shines out from God transfigures and changes our lives and our communities.  Amidst the darkness of Covid we have a glimmer of light in the vaccinations. In the world around us the seasons are turning, we have Spring on the horizon, the birds are singing and the snowdrops are out.  But wherever we are and however we feel right now we can be re-assured that the light of the transfiguration is there breaking through, not just in Gospel times but always.  Jesus is here, and God says to us all in the midst of our own fears “This is my Son the Beloved; listen to him!”.  Amen.

We read or sing our 4th hymn.

            All heaven declares

            the glory of the risen Lord;

            who can compare

            with the beauty of the Lord?

            For ever He will be

            the Lamb upon the throne;

            I gladly bow the knee

            and worship Him alone.

           I will proclaim

            the glory of the risen Lord,

            who once was slain

            to reconcile man to God.

            For ever You will be

            the Lamb upon the throne,

            I gladly bow the knee,

            and worship You alone.

        

Intercessions adapted from Christian Aid.

“Even in the darkest moments, light shines and love gives hope.  Love compels us to fight against coronavirus alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty. Love compels us to stand together in prayer with our neighbours near and far.  As we pray in our individual homes we are united as one family, so let us pause and find a moment of peace, as we lift our hearts together in prayer……

Lord shine your light

on the health workers tending the seriously ill

on scientists working on vaccinations for the new mutations

on researchers analysing data and identifying trends as the vaccination roll out continues. 

on the media outlets working to communicate reality

on the supermarket workers, hygiene and sanitation providers

on the good news stories of recoveries and effective planning

on the notes through letterboxes offering help and support

on the internet, telephones and technology that connect

For an awakened appreciation of what is truly important

We pray to the Lord.

 

Lord, shine your light

on those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones

on those who are struggling with mental health issues

on those whose immune systems are compromised

on the vulnerable because of underlying conditions

on those watching their entire income dry up

on those who have no choice but to go out to work

on those who are afraid to be at home

on those who are more lonely than they have ever been before

on those who are bereaved and grieving.

God be their healer, comfort and protection,

Be their strength, their shield and provision

Be their security, safety and close companion.

Father raise up your Church to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet

Distant but still present. Virtual but still connected. Apart but still helping to respond with love in action If even from a safe social distance.

Today in our prayers we pray specially for those known to us who need our prayers…  (names)

As we remember those struggling in this world we remember those now over the threshold of death and resting in the light and glory of God’s closer presence, and those who remain behind to grieve their passing.  (name) May the rest in peace and rise in glory. Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

We read or sing our final hymn:

To God be the glory!

Great things He hath done;

So loved He the world

That He gave us His Son;

Who yielded His life

An atonement for sin,

And opened the life gate

That all may go in.

 

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,

Let the earth hear His voice;

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord!

Let the people rejoice;

O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son

And give Him the glory;

Great things He hath done.

 

O perfect redemption

The purchase of blood!

To every believer, the promise of God;

The vilest offender who truly believes,

That moment from Jesus

A pardon receives. Praise the Lord….

 

Great things He hath taught us

Great things He hath done,

And great our rejoicing

Through Jesus the Son;

But purer, and higher,

And greater will be

Our wonder, our rapture,

When Jesus we see.

Praise the Lord….

Let us pray:  The Collect

Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross; give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory. Amen.

Leaving the Mount of Transfiguration behind, walking with Jesus and in his light, we too look faithfully towards Jerusalem, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week and Easter and as we do so we say to each other across the homes of Melbourne and beyond:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face.

May the rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand. AMEN

Thank you for taking part in this service. God bless you all and keep you safe and well.

CCL 257405.  Hymns from Mission Praise except where stated.  Confession : Common Worship Living Word. Collect : Common Worship.

Prayers adapted from Christian Aid.

Contact Us

Church Secretary - Margaret Loydall - Tel 01332 862175

Website Co-ordinator (and Church Elder) - Barbara Nadin - Tel 01332 863825

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