February 27, 2022
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
bulletins are placed in the pews to help with social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship will be continuing with beverages only, in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx ,Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Kay Werner, and Arlene Pawlik
*CALL TO WORSHIP from Psalm 99, CEV
Our Lord, you are King! You rule from your throne above the winged creatures,
as people tremble and the earth shakes…
Only you are God! And your power alone, so great and fearsome, is worthy of praise.
You are our mighty King, a lover of fairness,
who sees that justice is done everywhere in Israel.
Our Lord and our God, we praise you and kneel down to worship you,
the God of holiness!...
We praise you, Lord God, and we worship you at your sacred mountain.
Only you are God!
God of Glory, we gather to worship you as your people have since long ago. We come to sing your praise and offer our prayers. We come to hear your stories and ponder your greatness. We come to celebrate your work through Jesus your Son, and we come that our own lives might be changed to honor you ever more. Amen.
*HYMN Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise #263
Let us make our confession to our God.
God of compassion,
in Jesus Christ you reveal the light of your glory,
but we turn away, distracted by our own plans.
We confess that we speak when we should listen,
and act when we should wait.
Forgive our aimless enthusiasms.
Grant us wisdom to live in your light
and to follow in the way of your beloved Son,
Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. (from Book of Common Worship)
*WORDS OF ASSURANCE 2 Corinthians 3:18, GW
18 As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Through Christ we are forgiven. Through the Spirit we are changed for glory.
Thanks be to God!
*SONG OF PRAISE Gloria Patri #579
*Passing of the Peace( facing those across the aisle from you)
Left: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Right: And also with you. May the peace of Christ be with you.
Left: And also with you.
(You may be seated.)
Old Testament Exodus 34:29-35, NLT
29 When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the Lord. 30 So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called out to them and asked Aaron and all the leaders of the community to come over, and he talked with them. 32 Then all the people of Israel approached him, and Moses gave them all the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses finished speaking with them, he covered his face with a veil. 34 But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the Lord had given him, 35 and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord.
Gospel Luke 9:28-36, NLV
28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 While he was praying, his face changed, and his clothes became shining white. 30 Suddenly Moses and Elijah were there speaking with him. 31 They appeared in heavenly glory and talked about all that Jesus' death in Jerusalem would mean. 32 Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was. They also saw the two men who were with him. 33 Moses and Elijah were about to leave, when Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But Peter did not know what he was talking about.34 While Peter was still speaking, a shadow from a cloud passed over them, and they were frightened as the cloud covered them. 35 From the cloud a voice spoke, “This is my chosen Son. Listen to what he says!”36 After the voice had spoken, Peter, John, and James saw only Jesus. For some time they kept quiet and did not say anything about what they had seen.
Sermon Transfiguration: Let the Glory Shine!
I started to work on this message during the Olympics. It seems to me that is quite the scenario for glimpsing glory. I was thrilled with Lindsey Jacobellis’ win after being in so many Olympics. I loved Chloe Kim and Nathen Chen’s performances. I see others we will be watching in the future who had that taste of Olympic glory this time around, among them Yuma Kagiyama of Japan who earned the silver behind Nathan in men’s figure skating. There were former Olympians I recognized, whose taste of glory came long ago, now commenting on or coaching current athletes, like Brian Orser coaching skaters from three different nations. The next night in men’s snowboard halfpipe, Shaun White was the veteran ready to retire from his glorious three gold medal career coming fourth in these Olympics. Ayumu Hirano took the gold this year after silvers in the two previous Olympics. But my eyes were drawn to Valentino Guseli in fifth place. At age 15, his glory days are coming in the future.
Strangely enough that kind of mix feels a little like the scene that played out in today’s gospel lesson. The transfiguration scene is Jesus’ shining moment displaying the glory that belongs to him as God’s Son. It wasn’t as obvious in the day-to-day aspects of his ministry. Those who gathered to hear him knew he was a great teacher as they gained better understanding of scriptures or found hope in the images he shared of God’s kingdom. Those who received or witnessed his healing saw in him a powerful healer or miracle worker. Those who felt judgement in his concern for justice or found simple truths as he defended the powerless thought he was dangerous to their status quo. But no one had witnessed his heavenly glory unless we go back to his birth stories.
What reminds me of the mix with past and future is the presence of disciples along with the appearance of Old Testament heroes. Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the prophets, but they are also associated with experiencing God’s glory in their lifetime. Moses was allowed to see God pass by when he went up on the mountain to receive the commandments. When Moses went into the Tent of Meeting to converse with God, his face reflected God’s glory brightly enough to frighten others, so he had to wear a cloth over his face. Elijah knew a moment of God’s glory when he defeated the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, then found God again in a whisper in a cave when he was in despair. Elijah’s own glory was seen by Elisha when Elijah was taken to God in a whirlwind and a chariot of fire. These two stood proudly by Jesus conversing with him there on the mountain, as if acknowledging and affirming Jesus’ true light and heavenly glory as the Son of God.
The three disciples: Peter, James, and John each had a role in carrying forward Jesus’ glory by their teaching and leadership and even miracles when it was their turn. Just as I imagine Jesus found encouragement in his conversation with Moses and Elijah to continue toward his death for our salvation, so I imagine Peter, James, and John were encouraged by witnessing this experience for the difficult work that lay ahead of them.
Of course in the midst of the experience they could not fully understand what was happening, nor did they recognize the impetus it intended for forward momentum. Many times when something marvelous is happening around us we want to stay in that moment and hang on to it as long as possible. Someone who fully enjoyed High School or college might not want to move on from those times and friends. Someone who loves their job might find retirement difficult. Someone who had the perfect fairy tale engagement and wedding might be shocked to discover marriage means working hard together to overcome obstacles. Peter didn’t want to leave the mountain top experience of Jesus’ glory, and he certainly didn’t want to hear that Jesus was headed toward Jerusalem and death.
The mountain top experiences we might be privileged to have in our relationship with God are meant to move us forward into our mission and ministry as God’s people. Our time with God in Sunday worship is a refueling station for the week that lies ahead. Our morning prayers or devotions are spiritual nourishment for the rest of the day.
Life is like running a marathon. You need those moments along the way when you are handed a bottle of water to keep going or the shouts of encouragement from the sidelines. Our spiritual practices are like that. You might experience a moment of euphoria like when a marathoner gets a rush of adrenaline or finds their breathing regains its rhythm sometime later in the race. But not everyone will experience that, nor will one runner experience it every time, at least not from the way I have heard it described.
You may never have a spiritual high either, or if you do it might only be once in your life. That was true even for Mother Theresa. She had one such cherished experience of hearing God speak directly to her. But that joy and direction had to keep her moving to serve God for a lifetime, because it never came again. This mountain top witness of Jesus’ glory only came once for only three of the disciples, but perhaps it also helped sustain them in the difficult marathon ahead of them.
I wanted to look into other occurrences of glory in the scriptures. In the Old Testament there are references to the Lord’s glory appearing to the people especially at the Tent of Meeting, which we also call the Tabernacle. Most of these are in the book of Numbers. For example, “Korah gathered the entire community with them to the entrance of the meeting tent. Then the Lord’s glory appeared to the entire community.” (Numbers 16:19) I think it’s important to notice that God’s glory can be apparent to the whole community, not just Moses or just the priests. After the Temple was built in Solomon’s time replacing the Tabernacle, 1 King 8 refers to a cloud of God’s glory filling the Temple to the point that the priests could not carry out their duties. The same story is recorded in 2 Chronicles 5. Chapter 7, taking place as Solomon dedicated the Temple, also notes God’s glory filling the Temple. So in one sense God’s glory seems to indicate God’s presence. Psalms puts it this way, “I love the beauty of your house, Lord; I love the place where your glory resides.” (Psalm 26:8) That presence is closely related to where they expected to find God, at the Tabernacle or later the Temple. It was also associated with the Ark of the Covenant, the top of which was referred to as God’s mercy seat. When the Philistines captured the Ark, a woman declared that God’s glory had left Israel, giving her child a name with that meaning. In a broader image, psalms repeatedly pray that God’s glory fill the earth. For example, “Exalt yourself, God, higher than heaven! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalm 57:5 & 11)
God’s glory as a visible impression of God’s presence is also recorded in the prophets. I like this verse from Ezekiel. “Just as a rainbow lights up a cloud on a rainy day, so its brightness shone all around. This was how the form of the Lord’s glory appeared. When I saw it, I fell on my face. I heard the sound of someone speaking.” (Ezekiel 1:28) I am reminded that a friend recently saw a rainbow on a difficult day and was reassured that God was with her. Ezekiel continued to experience God’s presence in a visible brightness. All of these associations of God’s glory with God’s presence made visible as some form of light contribute to making sense of what Peter, James, and John saw on the mountain top.
The Hebrew word for glory is Kabod (pronounced kavov or kavod) which means heavy or weighty. With reference to deity we mean to honor or respect God. God’s weight, if you will, is the majesty, the splendor, the magnificence of God that is beyond our imagination or comprehension and therefore demands our awe-filled respect. It was God’s splendor that filled the tabernacle, his magnificence that filled the Temple. What we find in the transfiguration story is that God’s majesty also filled Jesus. That right of God’s glory is proclaimed by God’s voice saying as it did at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son.” It was unexpected of Jesus in human form, but if we believe that Jesus was indeed God wrapped in human flesh for a time on earth, then it makes more sense to see God’s glory shine in and through him. Jesus put this in his own words to the disciples after the Last Supper. “Now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I shared with you before the world was created.” (John 17:5)
Sometimes we get overly focused on the glory of the past, and sometimes we even remember it as brighter than it actually was. The past has its place in that it helped form who we have become and that we can always learn from it. But we can’t live there anymore.
While the future is still speculation, we do need to face forward into it. That is precisely what Jesus was doing on the mountain top as he conversed with Moses and Elijah. Jesus was preparing for his own future and facing the cross. Jesus was also preparing Peter, James, and John for what was to come and for the roles each of them would play beyond the cross. They each became key leaders for the church in their own way. God also uses moments along the way to prepare us for our futures and the tasks God has in mind that lie ahead for us. But we don’t live in the future yet.
Most of all we need to live in the present moment, whether it is one of rejoicing or one of hardship. In each moment it is helpful to recognize that God’s glory is present with us whether or not it is visible to our eyes. God doesn’t appear to shine in full radiance at every moment before us, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t right there beside us. The sun is still there shedding some light on a cloudy day, we just can’t see it in its full brilliance. Even in the dark of our night, the sun is still shining on another part of the world. My faith believes that God is still with me in every moment whether or not I see it. But I look for reminders of God’s presence in the world around me. In sunshine or rainbows, plants, and animals out my window, in the people I talk to, in signs of caring and sharing I hear in the news, in all of these I can find God still shedding light. God has many ways of making God’s presence known if we bother to notice.
You won’t have a mountain top experience every day. You couldn’t bear it if you did. You may only have one in a lifetime if even that. But God is just as present in your mundane day to day lives. I encourage you to look for where God’s glorious presence is trying to shine a bit of light in your life each and every day, but I also encourage you to reflect that light to others whenever and wherever God gives you the opportunity. You may be the only one who can help another person see God’s light in a particular time and place.
May God’s light shine on you and through you today!
*HYMN Christ Whose Glory Fills the Skies # 462
PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
forever." -- Amen.
OFFERING OUR LIVES
Lord, we are told that Peter, James, and John glimpsed your full glory when they joined you on the mountain long ago, but we are called to live here and now on the plains. We offer ourselves to you in this life, asking you to transform us from within, so that through our daily lives, others may have a glimpse of your eternal love and even glory. Amen.
*DOXOLOGY Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow #592
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
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,
He is seated on the right hand of the Father,
And 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.
*HYMN Shine, Jesus, Shine STF #2173
*CHARGE & BLESSING
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.