WORSHIP 14th Feb

Aire Valley – Separately yet together
Bingley URC – Idle Upper Chapel URC –
Trinity, Keighley Baptist & URC
14th February 2021

Transfiguration Sunday

The lectionary readings for today are:
2 Kings 2:1–12; Psalm 50:1–6
Mark 9:2–9; 2 Corinthians 4:3–6

We will be looking at the Corinthians and Mark passages.
You may like to get them ready in your own Bible.
The lectionary reading from 2 Kings is about Elijah,
but we shall consider some different verses about him.
Welcome to our time of worship, when again we share with our Church families and friends from the safety of our own homes. I invite you to spend a few moments of stillness, as your ‘home’ is the place of God’s dwelling. I pray that you will be blessed in the presence of God, in a very special way today.

Call to worship
Come – let us draw close to God in our hearts and thoughts;
let us lay aside the mundane, the struggles, being fed up, as well as joys and hopes.
Come – let us worship in Spirit and in truth;
let us open our hearts and thoughts to new possibilities.

Hymn Rejoice and Sing 67
Verse 4 from Congregational Praise 28
1/4 Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
most blesséd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise.

2/4 Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

3/4 To all life Thou givest, to both great and small;
in all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
and wither and perish – but naught changeth Thee.

4/4 Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth Thee.
Walter Chalmers Smith (1824 – 1908) ald.

Prayer of approach
Heavenly Father, we come with our thanks that You are with us in our homes. Whether we come to You on our own, or with loved ones alongside us or elsewhere in our home – this is holy ground; the place of Your dwelling.
Holy Spirit, please make Your presence known to us; bring Your peace beyond understanding into our homes and the lives of our loved ones.
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You lived our human life; that You lived and knew the mundane, the struggles, being fed up, as well as joys and hopes. So, we bring to You now all that is going on in our lives…
Pause to offer God your own circumstances.
Lord Jesus, we thank You that You lived our human life if the power of the Spirit, and in all truth. May those realities grow in our lives as we worship and live for You.
Gracious God, we confess that we have flaws in our lives, and there are things that we would do differently…
Pause to offer God your own circumstances.
Gracious God, we are thankful that the Bible tells us You are quick to forgive – may we know again the joy of Your forgiveness and be strengthened by Your Spirit to live more and more like our Saviour Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer
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, the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Theme Introduction
I would like to invite you to spend a few moments thinking about a few questions:
What is the most amazing thing you have ever seen?
Could you describe it in detail?
And what did it mean for you?

If we were together in a building, I would ask for volunteers to share some of their thoughts. I suspect there would be things like amazing views in the great outdoors; or the spectacle at a musical or sporting event; or small and finely detailed objects. I have to tell you that I distracted myself somewhat at this point, thinking through some of the amazing things I have seen; sometimes what is amazing is not just about what it is, but about what it means. 

As it’s Valentine’s Day I’ll tell you about one such time when I was 18, living miles away from home during my time of volunteering at Holme Church, on what might be called a gap-year these days. I had been becoming friends with Brian, he had walked me home to where I was staying after evening Bible studies and youth group, and we had had coffee and chats together. It was that phase when maybe we were, would we be, maybe we weren’t yet boyfriend and girlfriend, and Valentine’s Day was coming up so there might be a clue then! Brian mentioned that he didn’t believe in Valentine’s cards – so that was that then! But when I got back to the house at tea time flowers had been delivered for me from Dolly’s florist on Tong Street!!! At this point, I can ‘hear’ Brian saying to me “How can you remember all that?” It is because of what it meant to me, not just what it was; In fact I couldn’t tell you now what the flowers looked like I may have to dig out my old photos and see if I took one!
As our lives progress, some of those things that were “the most amazing” at the time, get surpassed by others – I could wax lyrical at this point about sunsets and sunrises, the Dartford Warbler, the Pyramids, the Holy Land, reservoirs, lakes, hills and beaches… but there are more important things to do right now. And yet for all that I have had the privilege to see, I think the most amazing still remain two events, not one, those of seeing our children for the first time when they were born.
In our Gospel reading, Mark tells us of an event that was one of the most amazing things ever seen:

Reading Mark 9:2–9
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Hymn Rejoice and Sing 203
Tune Carlisle – (Also sung to “Stand up and bless the Lord”)
1/5 How good, Lord, to be here!
your glory fills the night;
your face and garments, like the sun,
shine with unborrowed light.

2/5 How good, Lord, to be here!
your beauty to behold,
where Moses and Elijah stand,
your messengers of old.
3/5 Fulfiller of the past,
promise of things to be,
we hail your body glorified
and our redemption see.

4/5 Before we taste of death,
we see your kingdom come;
we long to hold the vision bright,
and make this hill our home.

5/5 How good, Lord, to be here!
yet we may not remain;
but since you bid us leave the mount
come with us to the plain.
Joseph Armitage Robinson (1858–1933) altd.
© Public domain
2 Corinthians 4:3–6
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Here are another two question for you:
What is the biggest secret you have ever had?
How did it feel?
Again, if we were together as a congregation, I would ask for volunteers to share some of their thoughts. Although I realise that the very nature of secrets may mean that it is inappropriate to share! Secrets can be about wonderfully exciting things; but they can be about potentially difficult things; they can be about very sad possibilities; but they can also be about good transformative things. What ever the nature of secrets they are live altering; by which I mean that holding a secret alters the way that you respond in some circumstances; children can get giggly, people can get withdrawn or evasive, or somehow just different!
Another fact about Mark’s gospel is that extraordinary events are often followed by Jesus telling people not to talk about them, in other words, to keep them secret. For example when Jesus has healed people, and as we have seen in our reading today. I think Mark captures something of the exciting, life changing message of the gospel by inviting us in to the secrets, and then journeying into the revelations.
In our passage for today, there are parallels with the beginning of Jesus ministry. Particularly the voice of God the Father speaking to affirm him at His baptism, and now in the transfiguration experience, again speaking affirmation. We thought last week about Jesus taking private, solitary, time away from people in intimate prayerfulness with the Father, which we considered as a source of strength for His ministry. This time He took with him His closest disciples – Peter, James and John.
Let us consider why Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. I want to suggest four aspects:
1.They were figures who represented the Law and the Prophets.
2.They were people who asked to see the LORD’s glory, and experienced glimpses.

Exodus 33:18 18 Then Moses said, ‘Now show me your glory.’

Exodus 33:22 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

1 Kings 19:11-13 11 The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

3.They were also people who did not seem to experience an ordinary death, but somehow were taken away from this life.

Deuteronomy 34:5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.

2 Kings 2:11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

4.Last, Elijah was connected with the coming of the Messiah, indeed still is for our Jewish relatives. 

Malachi 4:5 ‘See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.’

Let us come back to our Gospel passage. Mark 9:2 says “after six days…” If we look back in the previous chapter we discover that this event is six days after Peter’s declaration of Jesus as the Messiah, and of Jesus declaring the coming of the Son of Man in the glory of His Father. In the transfiguration, God affirms His Son in the truly awesome experience, with Peter, James, and John as witnesses. In this event all of the symbols of God’s glory are present—a high mountain, shining garments, biblical patriarchs, a shadowing cloud, and a voice from heaven. As God had affirmed Jesus for His servant ministry at the time of His baptism, He now prepares Him for His suffering. 
For Peter, James and John, this extraordinary life altering event is to be a secret! It is to remain hidden for the time being, or perhaps in the language of our Corinthians passage “veiled.” This has got to be a way bigger secret than any we have had to keep, and I wonder how that must have felt to them; but how much more sense it will have made to them after Jesus’ resurrection. 
For Jesus, perhaps the Transfiguration gave Him the affirmation and strength that connects to what we read in

Hebrews 12:2 “… who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

As I conclude we shall turn to our other reading:

2 Corinthians 4:3–6 3 … our gospel is veiled … 6 … God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

A veil hides, or perhaps obscures – a bridal veil doesn’t completely hide the bride’s face, but heightens the expectation and excitement of seeing her face clearly and radiant on her wedding day. For me, there is a parallel here to the gospel, which when revealed and accepted becomes a radiant joy. Also, with Jesus’ Transfiguration; an event that had to remain a secret, or hidden, until what was still - amid the glory and brightness, actually obscured there - until it’s reality could begin to be grasped after the Resurrection.
Today, I pray for you, that the gospel will not be hidden for you, but a radiant joy; and that you may know the revelation of the light of the knowledge of God’s glory.    Amen.

I would like to offer to you now the words of a simple worship song:

Hymn Complete Mission Praise 778

Prayers of Intercession
We pray for the family of the Church, for loving relationships, and for the life of families around us.
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, born in poverty and soon a refugee, be with families today who are poor and live in hunger and want …
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, as you grew in wisdom and in favour with God and the people in the family of Joseph the carpenter, bring wisdom and the presence of God into the work and growth of families today …
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, as you blessed marriage in the wedding at Cana, be with those preparing for marriage.
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, as you healed Peter’s mother-in-law, bring healing to those in our families and world who are ill today …
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, when you were dying you called Mary and John to care for one another. Provide today for those who lose their families: the bereaved and childless, orphans and widows …
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us.

Jesus, as you ate breakfast on the beach with your disciples after you were raised from the dead, bring the whole Church on earth and in heaven into your risen presence to eat at the eternal banquet.
Jesus, Lord of love, in your mercy, hear us. Amen.

Hymn Rejoice and Sing 573
1/5 God is working his purpose out
as year succeeds to year:
God is working his purpose out,
and the time is drawing near;
nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

2/5 From utmost east to utmost west,
where human feet have trod,
by the voice of many messengers
goes forth the voice of God;
‘Give ear to me, you continents,
ye islands give ear to me,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.’

3/5 What can we do to work God’s work,
to prosper and increase
love and justice throughout the world,
the reign of the Prince of Peace?
What can we do to hasten the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea?

4/5 Let us go out in the strength of God,
with the banner of Christ unfurled,
that the light of the glorious gospel of truth
may shine throughout the world:
sin and sorrow let us fight
to set their captives free,
that earth may filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.

5/5 All that we do can have no worth
unless God blesses the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God awakens the seed;
yet nearer and nearer draws the time,
the time that shall surely be,
when the earth shall be filled
with the glory of God
as the waters cover the sea.
Arthur Campbell Ainger (1841 – 1919) altd.

Prayer and blessing
As we prepare to move on from our act of worship, may we be conscious of the closeness of God in our hearts and thoughts; God’s presence with us in the mundane, the struggles, when we are fed up, as well as in our joys and hopes.
May we live in Spirit and in truth; with our hearts and thoughts open to new possibilities with God. Amen!

And now – to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence with out fault and with great joy – to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.