Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
Come as eyewitnesses of God’s majesty!
We come and worship.
Come and give honour to God in your praise and song
We come and worship.
Come and praise the one who rises in our hearts like a morning star.
We come and worship.
Hymn 510 – Jesus calls us here (1,3,4)
Source of light and glory, we worship You. As angels adore You, veiling their eyes to Your presence, we bring You our praise. We yearn for Your justice to come, Your glory to fill the earth, and Your light to shine upon us. You cause the planets to spin around the sun, and the moon to spin around the earth. Time and seasons are marked by you, our rock and redeemer.
Yet as we worship we are afraid. As we praise Your holiness we are aware of our sin. As we yearn for justice, we become conscious of the injustice we mete out to others. We long for the light but prefer the dark. You call us to see justice but we are afraid of your judgement. God, the true life of all, give to us, who both blossom and flourish, yet wither and decay, your love, grace, and peace; forgive us our love of the darkness and hatred of the light, our cravings for pleasure coming with the pain of the poor. Give us time, Ancient of Days, to repent. Give us time, Timeless One, to turn our lives around. Give us grace, Fountain of Love, to live in Your light.
God is slow to anger and full of compassion. The Most High forgives all who humbly repent and trust in Christ’s faithfulness. There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are a forgiven people! Amen.
Readings – Exodus 24: 12-18 (pg 82)
Matthew 17: 1-9 (pg 984)
Hymn 448 – Shine, Jesus, shine
Everlasting God help us, not to keep the secret, but to proclaim to all that Jesus Christ is Lord. In the week ahead may we reflect your love in our families, church and community, so that the world can see that we are transformed by Christ and thereby draw others into Jesus’ loving care. Amen
‘I have been to the mountaintop – I have seen the promised land’, so said Martin Luther King, the day before he was assassinated. There is something about mountain tops, especially on crystal clear days like we had at the beginning of the week. Maybe we climb up the mountain – sometimes we can drive up to a vantage point or even get a cable car up, but there are times when we look at the view and our breath is taken away. We are transported out of ourselves. A mountain top experience when we seem to see things anew. On the mountaintop we gain another perspective.
Today is transfiguration Sunday when we remember how some of the disciples accompanied Jesus up a mountain and had this strange, weird, breathtaking, mind-blowing, certainly incredible experience, when Jesus was transfigured, became radiant with light.
It had not been an easy time for Jesus and the disciples. They had been bombarded at every turn by people seeking healing or help, and also had begun to be questioned by the religious leaders. There was no place for rest or retreat. Into the midst of this crucible of questions and exhaustion, Jesus had asked his disciples who they believed he was. Peter had said that Jesus was the Messiah. The Lord. But even though Peter had used all the right words, it turned out he still hadn’t really understood what they meant. Because when Jesus began to talk about a cross, Peter crumbled. No longer a cornerstone but a stumbling block. How could someone save and liberate God’s people if he was killed? Peter wondered. It just didn’t make sense.
Then Jesus had told his followers that the road to Jerusalem would be a difficult one. And that it would end in a cross. If they wanted to follow him, they too would have crosses to bear. He had been trying to tell his disciples who he really was and why he had come. He had been trying to tell them what it would mean to be the Messiah. But all Peter had wanted was for Jesus to stop talking. He had felt as if the Jesus he had known and loved was slipping through his fingers.
Still, when Jesus began to make his way up the mountain in our text for today, Peter, James, and John followed him. It was while they were there, on that mountain, that everything changed. The three disciples had expected an intermission, a pause in the action, but instead they were thrown into a terrifying, mystical experience they could have never predicted and could never fully explain. All through Scripture, prophets and leaders meet God on the mountains. Moses, enveloped in clouds, is given the tablets of the law on Mount Sinai. Elijah hears God in the still, small voice, as powerful as a thundering silence there on a mountain. And here, in this story, Peter, James, and John encounter God as well. In the transfiguration, God knits together the law, the prophets, and the gospel, weaving them into a story and narrative of faith that finds its culmination in the person of Jesus. Moses and Elijah and Jesus stand together at the top of the mountain, clothed in white.
It makes sense that Peter wants to stay there on that mountaintop, far away from the world below. Here on the mountaintop he isn’t distracted by the demands of other people and their needs. He didn’t have to think too hard about what Jesus might have meant when he began to talk about a cross and suffering and death. Here on the mountaintop he saw the glorified, victorious Jesus he had always wanted, shining in splendour and glory. So he says, “It would be good to stay here. Together, Jesus. Let’s pitch some tents and stay put.” But then God’s glory pulls back the veil between heaven and earth even more fully and begins to speak: “Look, here is my son. My beloved. Listen to him.” The cloud has dispersed. Moses and Elijah have disappeared. And it is almost as if everything is back to normal. But of course nothing will ever be the same.
In the Gospel of Matthew, this moment of transfiguration—this revealing of God’s glory—on the mountaintop serves as a turning point. Jesus, who has been ministering throughout the countryside, now turns his face toward Jerusalem, ready to start down the road to the cross. And the disciples have a decision to make. Will they keep following him on this new leg of the journey? The transfiguration is also a turning point for us. We can look forward, seeing the rocky and winding path to Jerusalem. We can see, from this place the ways that Jesus will continue to open his arms up to the world, reaching out to each of us, until those arms are stretched out across the beams of a cross. At communion today we remember that broken body and shed blood.
Like any experience of the divine, the transfiguration is shrouded in mystery—a burning bush that is not consumed; a still small voice; a cloud and pillar of fire—these are ultimately all “You had to be there” type of events. Even for Peter, James, and John, part of the story, part of the meaning eludes them. And they come back down the mountain not quite sure they know what just occurred, but they came down the mountain – somehow strengthened to get on with life.
We too have our time of worship and share our communion meal, but are reminded that our journey of faith and our journey to faith are not yet over. There is still more to Jesus than we had allowed ourselves to imagine. There is an African proverb, “Beyond mountains, there are mountains.” And today that is true for us as well. For Jesus is already on his way back down the trail. Back into the crush of people waiting for healing, for vision, and for hope. Back into the middle of all that need and all those questions. Moving forward to what lies ahead. He has put his hand out to us and invites us to come and follow him once more.
Statement of Faith
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
God of love that transforms lives, we offer our gifts in gratitude for all we have received in Christ, your beloved Son. Take our gifts and transform them into acts of love that will bless the world in his name.
Comforting God, We know that the news coming into our homes shocks us, we have watched the rising death toll in Turkey and Syria with a sense of disbelief and pain. We thank you for those who have worked tirelessly to find and help those trapped, we pray for you solace for those who are desperate for news. May those who have died rest in your peace, may those now building lives without them be comforted. Comforting God, we pray for your love.
As we pray for the things which are in the headlines, we don’t forget those places and people whose stories are now second page news. We pray for those reliant on foodbanks: especially now the school holidays are here and need has grown. We pray for those who feel unsafe in their own homes, for those who have had to flee for safety - for refugees unsafe again in this country, for those intimidated and hurt for being who they are, for what they believe, for all they long to be. God of relationships and community, we pray for a world that is fairer.
We are connected to so many people, locally and far away. In these moments of quietness, we offer to you our own private prayers for people and places needing your love. silence Transforming God, accept these and all of our prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen
Invitation to the Table
Hymn 666 – Let all mortal flesh
Prayer of thanksgiving
Hymn 518 – Jesus calls us here to meet him
We have witnessed Christ, God’s Beloved, on the mountain in glory. Now, go into the world to shine the light of his glory with grace and compassion.
May God’s beauty inspire you;
May Christ’s brilliance restore you;
And may the joy of the Holy Spirit empower you to shine in every place you go. Amen.