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!
The Sundays after Epiphany began with Jesus’ baptism and end with three disciples’ vision of his transfiguration. In Mark’s story of Jesus’ baptism, apparently only Jesus sees the Spirit descending and hears the words from heaven. But now Jesus’ three closest friends hear the same words naming him God’s Beloved. As believers, Paul writes, we are enabled to see the God-light in Jesus’ face, because the same God who created light in the first place has shone in our hearts to give us that vision. The light of God’s glory in Jesus has enlightened us through baptism and shines in us also for others to see.
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God, whose voice is upon the waters, whose mercy is poured out upon all people, whose goodness cascades over all creation.
Let us confess our sin, trusting in the abundant grace of God. Silence is kept for reflection. Holy God, you search us and know us.
You are acquainted with all our ways.
We confess that our hearts are burdened by sin— our own sins and the broken systems that bind us.
We turn inward, failing to follow your outward way of love.
We distrust those who are not like us.
We exploit the earth and its resources and fail to consider generations to come.
Forgive us, gracious God, for all we have done and left undone. Even before the words are on our tongues, you know them; receive them in your divine mercy.
How vast is God’s grace!
Through the power and promise of ☩ Christ Jesus, our sins are washed away and we are claimed as God’s own beloved.
Indeed, we are forgiven.
In the wake of God’s forgiveness, we are called to be the beloved community living out Christ’s justice and the Spirit’s reconciling peace.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, the resplendent light of your truth shines from the mountaintop into our hearts.
Transfigure us by your beloved Son, and illumine the world with your image, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
First Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-12
Today’s reading centers on the transfer of power and authority from the prophet Elijah to Elisha. Their travels, which retrace the path of Joshua back to Moab (the place where Moses died) and the parting of the waters, demonstrate that Elisha and Elijah are legitimate successors of the great prophet Moses.
1Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah 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. 3The 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.”
4Elijah 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. 5The 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.” 6Then 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. 7Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8Then 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.
9When 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.” 10He 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.” 11As 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. 1Elisha 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 in two pieces.
Psalm: Psalm 50:1-6
Out of Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth in glory. (Ps. 50:2)
1The mighty one, God the LORD, has spoken; calling the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 2Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, God shines forth in glory.
3Our God will come and will not keep silence; with a consuming flame before, and round about a raging storm.
4God calls the heavens and the earth from above to witness the judgment of the people.
5“Gather before me my loyal followers,
those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice.”
6The heavens declare the rightness of God’s cause, for it is God who is judge.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
The spotlight of Christian ministry is not on the people who carry out ministry but on the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as God made light shine at creation, God makes the light of Jesus Christ shine in our lives through Christian ministry.
3Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4In 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. 5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6For 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.
Alleluia. This is my | Son, my Chosen, * listen to him! Alleluia. (Luke 9:35)
Gospel: Mark 9:2-
Mark’s gospel presents the transfiguration as a preview of what would become apparent to Jesus’ followers after he rose from the dead. Confused disciples are given a vision of God’s glory manifest in the beloved Son.
Meditation by David O’Brien
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, and give Glory to Your Name, Oh Lord. Amen
We have two stories today that have a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time. First comes the story of the prophets Elijah and his apprentice Elisha. The way the author lays out the story is kind of strange to me. He tells us right at the beginning what will be happening in the end. In today’s vernacular, he might have said “spoiler alert” at the beginning of the text. But we know from the beginning that Elijah is going to be going to the Lord in a whirlwind! Maybe it’s not that much of a spoiler, because as he travels with Elisha, it seems that almost all the people they come across already know that God will be taking Elijah away from Elisha today. It’s not a question of “if” but of “when” it will happen. Elisha, knowing that his master will be taken away from him, asks Elijah for twice his spirit. Elijah tells him that if he sees him as he’s being taken from him, it will be granted to him. Elisha had many opportunities to turn aside, but he knew that it wasn’t a question of “if” he had to be at his master’s side, but “when”. So, he traveled with him from Gilgal to Jordan, with a few stops in between. I’m not sure how far that is, but looking at a map of modern Israel, it’s no short distance to be sure.
Unlike Elisha, Peter, James & John had no idea what they were in for when they accompanied Jesus up the mountain. Christ was transfigured before them from the rabbi they had been traveling with into a radiant figure. Two renowned figures from the Israelites’ past are also there. Moses, who received the law from God, and Elijah, the great prophets are also with Jesus, who brings together both the law and the prophecies. Peter is so awestruck by this event that he blurts out the idea of making three residences, one for each of these great figures. (Have you ever known someone who doesn’t know what to say but can’t handle being silent, so he says something that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense? Oh well, a discussion for another time I guess.) Then God, the Father, spoke to all of them and said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to Him!” Peter, James and John were in the right place, at the right time so that they’d be able to tell the story of this event to future Christians!
A lot of us feel that the right place to be, to worship God, is in the Church. It is among a community of believers that our faith can shine best for all the world to see. The pandemic, unfortunately, has kept a lot of us away. Some of the divisiveness that has been growing among our Church community has also kept several folks away. But one day, God willing, the pandemic will be over, and I have faith that it’s not a question of “if” but “when” we will find solutions to the divisions that are driving us apart as a community of believers.
I’m reminded of a story about a pastor at small, country Church. One of his regular parishioners, let’s call him John, who came to services almost every Sunday, suddenly stopped without any explanation. One chilly evening, the pastor stopped at John’s house to speak with him about the situation. John, figuring that he knew why the pastor was there, welcomed him in to sit by the fire and warm up. For a
while, neither man said anything, not wanting to broach the uncomfortable subject. The pastor then took a pair of tongs and pulled a flaming ember from the fireplace and set it on the hearth. Soon the flame went out and the ember cooled. After a while the pastor took the tongs and place the now cold ember back into the fire where it quickly lit again. The pastor said that he should be going, and John walked him to the door. Before the pastor left, John said “Thanks for the fiery sermon, pastor. I’ll see you on Sunday.”
This may not be the “when” to come back to services for you yet. Still, there are ways to remain part of our community without exposing yourself to the virus. If you’re reading this, you’ve already found one way through the weekly mailings and e-mailings. Another way is to come sit in the parking lot during services and listen to the service on your radio. That’s what my wife and I have been doing for some time now. However, you are a part of this community of believers, I hope that your faith will continue to shine brightly like the ember in the fire!
Prayers of Intercession
Guided by Christ made known to the nations, let us offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all people in need.
A brief silence.
For the gospel proclaimed in word and deed, for communities of faith far and near, for
Daniel and Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and for all who show the face of Christ throughout the world, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For creation: sun, moon and stars; life forming in the dark earth and ocean deep; mountains, clouds and storms, and creatures seen and unseen, and for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our stewardship of God’s creation, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For those responsible for safety and protection: for paramedics, fire and police officers, service members and security guards, attorneys and advocates, civil servants and leaders of governments, that they witness to mercy and justice throughout the world, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For all who suffer this day from illness or separation from loved ones, especially those on our prayer list, that Christ our healer transform sickness into health, loneliness into companionship, bereavement into consolation, and suffering into peace, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For companions on life’s journey in this worshiping community, for loved ones who cannot be with us this day, and for guidance during struggles we face, that God’s glory is revealed around and among us, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
For our transition team and call committee, that you might guide them in the deliberations, for this Church community, that you might heal our divisions so that we may more perfectly reflect your love to all the world, and for all the intentions we speak now and those we hold in our hearts, that if they be in conformity with your will, you will see fit to grant them to us, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
In thanksgiving for the faithful departed who now rest from their earthly pilgrimage especially missionaries Cyril and Methodius, and all those loved ones we hold dear in our hearts, that their lives of service and prayer inspire us in our living, let us pray. Have mercy, O God.
Merciful God, hear the prayers of your people, spoken or silent, for the sake of the one who dwells among us, your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
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. Amen.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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.
God the creator strengthen you; Jesus the beloved fill you; and the Holy Spirit the comforter ☩ keep you in peace.
Go in peace. Be the light of Christ. Thanks be to God.
 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, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5Then 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.” 6He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” 8Suddenly 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.