Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, February 27, 2022
Transfiguration of Our Lord
Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who creates us,
and calls us by name.
Let us confess our sin in the presence of God and of one another.
Silence is kept for reflection.
Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
and your beloved children.
We have turned our faces away from your glory
when it did not appear as we expected.
We have rejected your word
when it made us confront ourselves.
We have failed to show hospitality
to those you called us to welcome.
Accept our repentance for the things we have done
and the things we have left undone.
For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.
Forgive us and lead us, that we may bathe
in the glory of your Son born among us,
and reflect your love for all creation.
Rejoice in this good news:
In ☩ Christ Jesus, your sins are forgiven.
You are descendants of the Most High,
adopted into the household of Christ,
and inheritors of eternal life.
Live as freed and forgiven children of God.
Prayer of the Day
O Lord Jesus, make us instruments of your peace, that where there is hatred, we may sow love, where there is injury, pardon, and where there is despair, hope. Grant, O divine master, that we may seek to console, to understand, and to love in your name, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Exodus 34:29-35
29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Psalm: Psalm 99
1The Lord is king; let the people tremble.
The Lord is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake.
2The Lord, great in Zion,
is high above all peoples.
3Let them confess God’s name, which is great and awesome;
God is the Holy One.
4O mighty king, lover of justice, you have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5Proclaim the greatness of the Lord and fall down before God’s footstool;
God is the Holy One.
6Moses and Aaron among your priests, and Samuel among those who call upon your name, O Lord,
they called upon you, and you answered them,
7you spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud;
they kept your testimonies and the decree that you gave them.
8O Lord our God, you answered them indeed;
you were a God who forgave them, yet punished them for their evil deeds.
9Proclaim the greatness of the Lord and worship upon God’s holy hill;
for the Lord our God is the Holy One.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
12Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
4:1Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.
Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 9:28-43a
28Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
37On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” 41Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43aAnd all were astounded at the greatness of God.
Meditation by Pastor Howard Abts
Did Peter, James, and John already know that Jesus was more than an extraordinary human being? When they heard the voice from the cloud, saying “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”, was it new information for them? I think it probably was.
Obviously, they didn’t have our advantage of having access to the Gospels. The first of the Gospels was not going to be written for about forty years. So, who knew that Jesus was God’s Son? His mother Mary knew, obviously, and Joseph knew. Elizabeth, too, and most likely Zechariah. There’s no sign that they were talking about it, though. Luke writes of Mary that she “treasured all these things in her heart.”
Was there anybody around who was still telling about the night Jesus was born? Any of the shepherds to whom the angels sang? It’s doubtful. No one ever says to Jesus, as far as we are told, “We’ve heard a story about something that happened in Bethlehem about the time you were born. Was that about you?” And in any case, the angels sang that Jesus was the Messiah, not that he was the Son of God.
A voice from heaven spoke when Jesus was baptized, according to Luke, saying “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” But the voice was addressed to Jesus, not to the crowds. And there’s no indication that any of the disciples, whom Jesus had not yet called, were there that day.
Also before Jesus called anyone to follow him, he healed a man who was tormented by an unclean spirit. The man called out, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” Simon could well have been there. After the sabbath service was over, Jesus had gone to Simon’s house. If Simon was there, he had witnessed the healing of the man with an unclean spirit. But even if you can believe what a man with an unclean spirit is shouting when he interrupts a sermon, “the Holy One of God” is not the same as “God himself, incarnate, born of a woman.” Those talking about it at coffee hour after the service said things like “with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and out they come!” It would be quite a leap, though, for them to say, “since unclean spirits obey him, he must be the son of God.”
When the voice spoke from the cloud, then, I think it was the first time Peter, James, and John learned what we know: that Jesus was God’s own Son. For us, it is a reminder. God has become a human being. The human being doing those astonishing things was God.
So this, among other things, I think: The voice that speaks to the three disciples that day, and speaks to us, does not stop with identifying Jesus. God says, “Listen to him!”
Between the calling of the disciples and Jesus’ taking three of them up a mountain with him, he has had a lot to say. After he leads them back down the mountain, he will have a lot more to say, until the day when he is crucified for us. After his resurrection, he’ll say more. He tells us how we are to treat each other. He tells us how we are to treat people outside our community. He tells us what to watch out for, and what isn’t worth worrying about. The voice from the cloud tells us to listen.
Now, there are a couple of different ways of listening.
Sometimes I listen to a new idea, thinking about how well it fits into what is already familiar to me, and comfortable. If it sounds as if it will be disruptive, I reject it. That’s not the kind of listening God is talking about. We are not to listen to what Jesus says, evaluate it, and toss it out if we don’t like it.
The other way of listening is to listen as if your life depends on what you’re hearing. I have read that people learning scuba diving are warned that they may sometimes become disoriented, confused, until they very literally do not know which way is up. They are taught not to try to figure out which way is up, but just to follow the bubbles of air that form when they exhale. No matter how sure they are that the bubbles are wrong, no matter how firmly they are convinced that the bubbles are going sideways, they should follow the bubbles. The bubbles are not wrong.
That’s the way we are to listen to Jesus. We are not to listen as if he may be wrong. He is not wrong.
At the beginning of the Season of Epiphany, we read of Jesus’ baptism. When he comes up out of the water, a voice speaks to him, reassuring him that he is, indeed, the Son of God. At the end of the Season of Epiphany, we read of Jesus’ Transfiguration. The voice from heaven is heard again, and this time it speaks to us. It tells us that Jesus is the Son of God. It tells us to listen to him.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
Prayers of Intercession
The Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us in abundance; so we are bold to pray for the church, the world, and all that God has made.
A brief silence.
Transform us by your greatness, O God. Send us down the mountain to share joy with all people. Make us agents of change, confident that your hope will vanquish despair and your goodness will conquer evil. God of grace, hear our prayer.
The mountains and valleys sing your praise. Dazzle us with your presence in every landscape: bluffs built by ancient glaciers, canyons carved by flowing rivers, flat horizons with uninterrupted views, and sands shaped by ocean tides. God of grace, hear our prayer.
You love justice and establish equity. Strengthen leaders of local governments, community nonprofits, and grassroots campaigns. Bless them with gifts of integrity, creativity, and sound conscience. Build up safe and joyful communities where all people may thrive. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Heal those who are in distress. Give patience to those waiting for answers. Grant hope to those who have reached the limits of treatment. Give compassionate hearts to those who accompany loved ones through illness and uncertainty. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Today we shout alleluia from the mountaintop; this week we enter the wilderness of Lent. Bless all who prepare and lead us in worship during this change of season: pastors, deacons, musicians, and all who contribute to our worship life. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Here other intercessions may be offered.
Blessed are they who listened to Christ’s voice in this life and now rest with him. Transform us from glory into glory, and give us your peace, that we do not lose heart. God of grace, hear our prayer.
Since we have such great hope in your promises, O God, we lift these and all of our prayers to you in confidence and faith; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
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 at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come 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.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
God, who leads you in pathways of righteousness,
who rejoices over you,
and who calls you by name,
☩ bless your going out and your coming in,
today and forever.
Go with Christ into a weary world.
Share the good news, and let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Thanks be to God.