SERVICE AT HOME FOR SUNDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2022

Call To Worship

Psalm 99 1-3 + 8-9

Prayer of Adoration
Almighty God, our loving heavenly Father, we come this morning to worship you with our whole being. All that we have, we bring to you and lay at your feet. We offer ourselves in your service and seek your wisdom and guidance in all things connected with our lives.
Father your wisdom is so far beyond our understanding and knowledge; we cannot hope to fathom and know the moving of your mind yet through the power of your Holy Spirit we have the privilege of being able to grow closer to you and be able to better understand or interpret the ways in which you communicate with us, teach us and guide us.
Open our eyes, we pray so that we may see your path for our lives; open our hearts to hear and receive your message on this and every day and grant us the courage and faith to be able to respond in the way that we should.
        
Prayer of Confession
And so we come to you, recognising our inadequacies and failures.
Father, forgive us for when our responses to you or our fellow human beings are inappropriate or just plain wrong; forgive us when we are so blind and deaf to your calls and guidance. Your love for each one of us is unconditional; yet our response to you is so often incredibly weak
Let us now confess our sin to God – whether in thought, word or deed; in things left unsaid or undone that we know we should have done…
May we hear the words of grace – Your sins are forgiven
Amen – thanks be to God

Prayer of Thanksgiving
So having received forgiveness for all our sins, let us come to our Lord to thank him for all he has done for us.
We thank you Father for everything. For our ability to worship you freely, our homes, having sufficient to eat and drink, our health, our families and friends – but most of all because of Jesus. We thank you for sending Jesus to us; for his teaching; his sacrifice for each of us on the cross and for his rising from the dead on the third day so that we may all inherit eternal life.
We thank you that he intercedes for us and has taken all our sin and imperfections away from us so that we might be able to share in his glory. We thank you also for the gift of your Holy Spirit.
It is not what we deserve – we know that; it is what we may receive in faith through the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through us. The same Spirit as was given to those first disciples – that changed a group of frightened and timid men into powerful worldwide evangelists leading to the creation of your church of which we are a part today.
Father we thank you and lift these prayers before you though the name of our risen saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
Reading: Exodus 34: 29 – 35

HYMN StF 20: Be Still for the presence of the Lord

Reading: 2 Corinthians 3: 12 – 4: 2

Reading: Luke 9: 28 – 36

HYMN StF 259: Jesus, on the Mountain Peak

Sermon

What is the most wonderful thing you have ever seen in your life? The most amazing experience you have ever encountered? Is it through travelling? Maybe from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; maybe some natural wonder like the Northern Lights or Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls? Maybe something made by human hand such as the Taj Mahal, Sydney Opera House? Or something else?

For me it was probably either a trip to Petra on one of our Holy Land pilgrimages that was truly stunning or for a natural wonder a visit to the Falls of Glomach in the Scottish Highlands that involved a 10 mile plus walk to get there and back through truly wild mountain scenery with an absolutely spectacular waterfall that you could hear thundering over the rocks well before you got a chance to see it.

What was your reaction to this wonderful experience? Wide-eyed wonder? Stunned silence? Wow!!!! A time of reflection just trying to take in what is going on around you?

Whatever your personal experience is – multiply the splendour a thousand times and more – and I suspect we will still not get near the experience of Peter, John and James on the mountain top as Christ was transfigured before them into some form of radiant brilliance that is really beyond words to describe. Is it any wonder that Peter was totally lost for words and suggested the erection of 3 tents?

So why did the transfiguration actually happen? It seems in some ways quite a strange event. To put it into context, it happened as Jesus began to turn his face towards the trip to Jerusalem that he knew would lead to his earthly death & crucifixion; it comes just after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ – so is part of the reason as some sort of empowerment from God to enable Jesus to go through the experiences he has to follow? Is it some sort of physical manifestation of Gods power on and in him for the disciples to see following Peter’s confession of him as the Christ? Is it – as one of my commentaries suggests – Jesus seeking some form of approval from God for the task he is to undertake and the mission he is to fulfil? We will never know for sure.

What we do know from the text is that the 3 disciples were frightened by the cloud and the voice coming from it. We do know that they were in absolute awe of what was going on around them. This links with our Exodus passage when Aaron and the other Israelite leaders were frightened at the appearance of Moses’ face after he had been in the presence of God. Their fear was such that Moses had to cover his face with a veil to hide this radiance when he was not in the presence of God. The transfiguration passage in Luke again says that Moses and Elijah were in glorious splendour as they were talking to Jesus about his departure. In a way though, is it a surprise that their faces displayed such a glowing radiance. After all, don’t our faces say a great deal about how we feel. They show when we are grumpy, upset and sad; they show when we are happy and really enjoying ourselves. When we have been through spiritually uplifting experiences and events in the past, didn’t our faces show pure joy and wonder on meeting afresh with our Lord?

Paul, in his 2nd Epistle to the church in Corinth contrasts us to Moses and the wearing of the veil. He says that the veil was there, worn so that the Israelites weren’t able to see the radiance fading away as time passed before Moses went back to see God.

Isn’t that so similar to us when we have had spiritual highs in our past journey of faith with Christ. Those exceptional experiences don’t last forever – the impact fades as normal life experiences and activities return; our immense joy subsides from that initial impact as the ordinariness of life returns. But the memory still stays; the lessons learned stay in our minds and affect the way we deal with things in the future as we reflect on what has happened to us.

Paul goes further as he says that in Christ, the veil is removed from our faces when we turn to him; that we reflect the Lord’s glory in our unveiled faces as we become transformed into his likeness through the deepening of our faith and developing relationship with the risen Jesus. Paul then contrasts the old covenant with the new covenant glory. The old covenant relationship between God and his people was fading, says Paul and was destined to be surpassed. The new covenant was brought in by Jesus through his life, death and resurrection; enabling each one of us to take hold of a personal relationship with our Saviour leading ultimately to eternal life with him in glory. Moses’ revelation was great, but only partial. The revelation seen through Jesus Christ was full and final.

Another of my commentaries on this topic suggests that whilst the transfiguration anticipates Jesus’ death on the cross, it also suggests that death will not be the final word in the story. The overall message of the story is one of glory; the glory of God being seen in and through Jesus, Moses and Elijah. The glory ultimately revealed through the resurrection of Jesus is anticipated in this story. The change in Jesus’ appearance can be viewed in the light of Daniel’s description of the Ancient One (Dan 7:9). The glory of Jesus is visible to Peter, James and John despite their physical tiredness and the comparison with the splendour of Moses & Elijah. Similarly the presence of the cloud has other biblical echoes that signify the presence of God – for example the Israelites journey from Egypt to the promised land in Exodus and in 1 Kings 8; 10-11 where the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the newly constructed Temple by King Solomon.

So what is our reaction to the transfiguration? Do we find it just too difficult to grasp and understand? Is it just so far beyond our comprehension that it has little impact on our lives and our thinking? Or is it like those first disciples – a mixture of fear and awe and wonder. For as Paul says elsewhere (Romans 8:17) if we are children of God, then we are heirs – and if we share in Christs sufferings so we will also share in his glory; the glory revealed at least in part through the transfiguration. Wow! What a prospect! What a possibility as a reward for living a life of faith; a life of discipleship; a life in tune with and in a close relationship with our Lord Jesus.
May the Lord, through the power of his Holy Spirit enable us to grasp this opportunity as we continue to seek the Will of our Lord as to how we live our lives and make our decisions and serve him in faith. Amen

HYMN StF 732: Day of Judgment! Day of Wonder!

Prayers of Intercession
Let us bring before you now the cares and concerns of the world.
Within these prayers there will be plenty of opportunity for you to think of situations and people that you know yourself to include within the prayers.
Firstly we think of places in the world where we know there is conflict and tension at this time. As John Wesley himself said, ‘The World is my Parish’ so there are no boundaries to where and what we should include within our prayers:
• For the enormous tension in Ukraine with the huge political uncertainty that exists and the threats of potential human conflict;
• The unrest in Tunisia;
• The continuing unease in Myanmar with the political situation;
• The ongoing protests in Canada and France linked to the Covid-19 pandemic
• For the ongoing problems within the African continent that lead people to try to escape to Europe for a perceived better lifestyle
• For other areas of the world that we are aware of where unrest and/or conflict exists…
For all of our political leaders where there are so many decisions that need to be made affecting individuals lives. May they all act with wisdom, discretion, consideration and for the benefit of all people.

For those that work within our Emergency Services; so often putting their own lives at risk to protect or save us from situations that we find ourselves in – sometimes from our own mistakes.

For those people that we know that are unwell and in Hospital…

For those that we know who are waiting for life saving or life
changing operations that have been delayed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic…
Lord we lift them all to you now.
Lord we also pray for those that have been bereaved; that they may know the power of your love and support surrounding them and comforting them in their time of pain. May they know your peace at this time. In particular Lord we think of…
We also pray Lord for those that continue to deal with the pain & grief of losing loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic when it has not really been possible to properly say good-bye to them for a variety of reasons. In particular Lord we think of…
Finally Lord, we think of ourselves. You know our individual needs better than we do – yet you encourage us to continue to ask for what we need in faith. Let us pray now for the things and people who are closest to us; our loved ones, families and closest friends…
For your wisdom and guidance over the path that we should tread in our lives of discipleship; make us open to the promptings of your Holy Spirit we pray. And so let us bring together all of these prayers in and through the name of the one who taught us when we pray to say:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name,
Your Kingdom come,
Your will be done,
    on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one
For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are Yours now and forever. Amen
HYMN StF 503: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Grace:
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all for evermore.
Amen

Let us go in peace to love and serve our Lord.
In the Name of Christ Amen