We welcome everyone to our services at Yetholm (10am) and Morebattle (11.15) on the last Sunday of Epiphany. Please stay for refreshments after the Yetholm service.
Call to Worship
God said, “Let light shine in the darkness!”
Lord, shine your light into our lives.
We see God’s glory in the face of Christ.
The light of Christ is with us day by day.
Let us follow the light of Christ together.
Let us worship God with thanks and praise.
Hymn 132 – Immortal invisible
Prayer of Adoration and Confession
God of grace and glory,
you reveal your presence to this worried world
in radiant glory and gentle whispers,
on mountain tops and in shadowed valleys,
in homes and churches,
in the quiet of nature and on busy streets.
Yours is the presence that pushes past our fear to calm us; yours is the love that transforms our doubt with reassurance. We have come to dwell in your goodness this day and to offer the praise you deserve, grateful for all the ways we meet you.
God of patience and purpose,
we confess we don’t expect you to surprise us.
We think we know what you expect of us and so we’re reluctant to consider a new challenge
or a new opportunity to serve you.
Forgive us when we are set in our ways. Work in us by your Spirit to keep us open to new encounters with you in the world as it changes so you will always find us faithful.
On this Transfiguration Sunday, help us to see you in all your glory, the Word made flesh and may this glory, through the Holy Spirit, transform our lives. In a world filled with hate, and injustice, inspire us to build the tabernacles of justice, peace and love, until the earth is full of your glory, as the waters cover the seas.
Readings – 2 Kings 2: 1-12 (Pg 369)
Mark 9: 2 - 9 (pg 1012)
Hymn 34/35 – O send thy light forth
Almighty God, at the Transfiguration you showed Jesus in a new state of glory and gave His disciples a glimpse of what they would see in his risen life. As we worship together week by week help us to see Jesus only, giving us a foretaste of your heavenly kingdom. Amen
The road zigzagged up the mountain. It was really quite scary, but at the top the views were breathtaking and inside the church there was a real sense of peace. It was the church of the transfiguration, and many scholars think it was the mountain that Jesus and the disciples climbed. It was once covered in oak trees, but these were cut down by the Ottomans to build the railway to Mecca, the one that Lawrence of Arabia and his friends kept trying to sabotage. Th pilgrims who came in droves before the Gaza conflict would get off their buses at the bottom and be driven up by Kamikaze Bedouins negotiating all the bends, but some would hike up as Jesus and the disciples had done.
It was quite a climb for Jesus and the three disciples, and a lot had been happening. Jesus had been ministering to the villages in the North and had asked who people said he was. Now, what he was interested in was who the disciples said he was, and Peter had said that he was the Messiah, and had gone straight to the top of the class. But then when Jesus explained how the Messiah had to suffer and even die, it was so outside their picture of the messiah that Peter objected, and Jesus had rebuked him saying, ‘Get thee behind me Satan’. That rebuke must have still been ringing in Peter’s mind as they climbed up the mountain. But it would have been a relief to get away from the constant demands of the villagers, even from the other disciples, to go somewhere quiet just to clear his head.
Little did the disciples realise what was in store for them. When they reached the top of the mountain, Jesus seemed to be transformed. Light radiated from him and his robe became a dazzling white. What’s more, there were two figures appearing beside him, two powerhouses – Moses and Elijah. Moses who had led the Israelites out of oppression in Egypt, had given them the Law and formed them into a community. Elijah who was a faithful prophet battling against the worship of Baal, who, as we read earlier, was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, having passed on his mantle to his apprentice Elisha. What was happening here? It was God’s affirmation of Jesus. There is even a voice from heaven saying’ this is my Son. Listen to him’. And it was a blessing on Jesus and the way he had chosen to go, for from this mountain he would turn his face towards Jerusalem and, yes, to the cross of Calvary. Jesus needed the affirmation, and the disciples needed to have this experience.
Of course, it was too overwhelming, and Peter blabbers on about building shelters. Often commentators condemn him for wanting to prolong the experience, stay up the mountain forever. But the Jewish festival of Tabernacles was a time when they remembered how they stayed in shelters during their time in the wilderness – nothing was permanent. But it was also a festival when people anticipated the end times, and maybe seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus made Peter think that a new age was being ushered in.
But then the experience passes, and Moses and Elijah disappear, and Jesus beckons the disciples to start to descend the mountain.
It is all so strange and other-worldly. But what can it mean for us today. I think there is the openness of Jesus to reveal his divinity, that he was the son of God, to the disciples. He had told them in words, but this experience hammered home the point. This week King Charles revealed that he had cancer, and we wish him a full recovery. We can often try to keep things hidden, we bottle things up, but maybe it is healthier to be open. Though I am also conscious that Jesus told the disciples on the way back down to keep what they had seen to themselves.
It also tells us the importance of our encounters with God, the times when we feel a closeness to God. It can be on the mountaintop; it can be at thin places like a beautiful old church Linton or a place like Holy Island, in can be in worship here in Yetholm/ Morebattle; it can be a piece of music or picture that can uplift us or a beautiful scene; family gathered around us; it can also be that we encounter God in the valley, in the pain, and indeed Jesus and the disciples did go down the mountain to heal, to affirm, to transform. Down to the mundane nature of everyday life, down to the nitty-gritty, down to the squabbling, disbelieving disciples, down to the jealousies and rivalries that colour our relationships, down to the pain which is part and parcel of our world, down to the Valley, for that is where we find God as well, almost more so than on the mountaintops. That is where we as followers of Jesus must find ourselves too.
I pray that we can have our mountaintop experiences, for we need them to sustain us in our journey, especially as during Lent we walk with Jesus the Way of the Cross.
Hymn 448 – Lord the light of your love
Prayers of Dedication
Generous God, bless all that is given in this church:
the time, the love, the talents, the laughter,
the ability to share with friend and stranger,
the welcome to the lost and lonely,
the light of love shining here,
the treasures given and found,
that, at the end, we may be transformed. Amen.
Prayers of Thanksgiving & Intercession
God of all life and each life:
You created us to live in relationship with each other - with friends and families, in communities and cultures, in neighborhoods and nations.
We give you thanks for all the supportive relationships which bring meaning and encouragement to our lives, and help in times of trouble. Help us contribute what we can to sustain the wellbeing of our community for all who call it home.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of our faith and our future,
there are so many pressures on homes and families today. Draw near to those who are in economic difficulty, anxious about bills, and those burdened by the challenges to health and happiness this winter.
Work with parents and children and neighbours who face conflict their relationships;
offer them solutions that express mutual respect and resolve tension.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
God of mercy and forgiveness,
You call us to live together in peace and unity.
We pray for our neighbourhoods and our nation.
Where people are divided and bitterness turns into resentment, show us how to work for reconciliation. Wherever there is conflict and daily danger in the world, raise up peacemakers and negotiators to bring violence to an end.
And give courage and protection to all who fear what tomorrow could bring.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Today we give thanks for our church family
and the years of worship and witness offered here.
Bless our leaders and our volunteers and renew their creativity and commitment to enliven our congregation in its mission.
We remember those of our number in need of your special attention today. We think of those who are sick. We remember King Charles and the Royal family at this time and also everyone with cancer or with other medical issues. For those waiting for operations and for those recovering.
Open our eyes to opportunities to reach out beyond our own fellowship as agents of your healing and hope.
Hymn 458 – At the name of Jesus
As we journey between the mountaintops and the plains of life, may the transforming power of God inspire you. May the challenging and comforting grace of Jesus guide you and may the companionship of the Holy Spirit walk with you. Go knowing the love of God within you, today and every day