SUNDAY 19TH FEBRUARY 2023

OPENING SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE

He spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud.

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this:

Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear in love. We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

SILENCE

God our Father,
we confess to you
and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
and in what we have failed to do.
We are truly sorry.
Forgive us our sins,
and deliver us from the power of evil,
for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

God, who is both power and love,
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by the Holy Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Billy Dewar Riddick

COLLECT

Almighty God,
whose Son, Jesus Christ, was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come, we may see him as he is;
through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit;
one God, world without end. Amen

PROCLAIMING & RECEIVING GOD’S WORD

FIRST READING
Exodus 24. 12-18
read by Mark Toner

The LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’ So, Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, ‘Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.’ Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

SILENCE

SECOND READING
2 Peter 1:16-21
read by Ann Toner

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain. So, we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all, you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

GRADUAL HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Matthew 17:1-9
read by Rev Ann Wren

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Matthew chapter 17 beginning at verse 1

Glory to Christ our Saviour

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious Gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord.

SERMON

Today we read of the three disciples being swept into the palpable presence of God. It all started with a simple hike up a mountain. A lot had been happening for Jesus and his disciples, and they had had enough and needed to get away from it all. We all have that feeling now and again when we need to get away from it all. We turn off the television with all its disconcerting or frightening news; we switch off the computer, put our phones on silent, and find time and space to breathe, pray, recharge our physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental batteries. Have you ever felt the need to get away from it all?

Most of us need space and sanctuary, for there is so much going on in our lives. We have to deal with so many different things on a day- to- day basis. We are overwhelmed by the issues around us, be it an earthquake in Syria and Turkey or a war in Ukraine. We experience sensory overload each day. Sometimes we seem to give and give and give, until we have nothing more to give. When that happens, it’s time to push the reset button. We need to pay attention to ourselves. In other words, we need to take care of our own health so that we can be there to help others. It’s a bit like the advice you get on aeroplanes. In the light of an emergency, you must tend to your own oxygen mask first, before assisting others. There’s wisdom in that!

Even Jesus wasn’t immune to the pressures around, and at times he felt overwhelmed. We must never forget Jesus’ humanity. In so many ways he experienced what we experience. So, it is no surprise that Jesus needs some time out. He takes three of his disciples with him, Peter, James and John.

Interestingly this retreat, if you can call it that, comes at a pivotal point in Jesus’ ministry. Six days previously, Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus explained that as the Messiah, he would die on a cross and be the Saviour of the world. I think after this truthful but painful exchange, emotionally Jesus and his disciples were tired and weary.

More often than not, God comes to us in our weakness and weariness. He comes in those moments when we have nothing to give. It is at this moment of exhaustion, that God comes with his glory to Jesus and his disciples. We read that Jesus was transfigured, another word for transformed, for his face shone like the sun and his clothes were dazzling white. What was happening here was, that, what was already concealed in Jesus became more apparent. His deity comes to the fore. His radiance and glory are seen in full splendour by the disciples. The glory seen on Jesus was not a temporary glory. The concealing of his glory while Jesus was on earth is what is temporary.

It is little wonder that the disciples are startled by this awesome epiphany. But there is more to come. Two of the greatest prophets, Moses and Elijah come to Jesus. They converse with Jesus, and then the disciples hear for themselves the voice of the living God: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased, listen to him.”

So, this story of Transfiguration reveals the fullness of Jesus’ glory which fittingly comes at the end of this Epiphany season. This revelation carries layers of meaning. It is a pastoral moment I believe for Jesus himself. He has been challenged by Peter to deny the cross and although he believes the cross is the way he must go, Jesus needs reassurance, support and encouragement at this stage of his ministry. What a moment for Jesus- it is a significant moment when he is reaffirmed as God’s Son.. his beloved Son. Not only is he affirmed as God’s beloved Son, but God is immensely proud of him and all that he is doing. There is no greater praise than the praise of parents! Furthermore, God tells Jesus’ disciples to believe his words and listen to him. God is reaffirming here Jesus’ authority and mission. He is confirming that the path of crucifixion is indeed the narrow road Jesus must travel, and his disciples must listen to him.

Jesus’ ministerial role is affirmed; he is heartened and encouraged by the words of Moses and Elijah and by the words of his heavenly Father. The transfiguration was for Jesus a moment of intimacy, union and communion. Did Jesus know this was going to happen? I don’t think so! Sometimes we feel nudged to do something but we are not sure why. I believe Jesus knew he had to ascend the mountain with his three disciples but for what reason or purpose he had no idea. So, this moment of transfiguration was for Jesus an intimate, encouraging and reassuring one. Theologian Karl Barth notes that this miracle is unique among all the miracle stories in the Gospels, because it happened to Jesus, not by Jesus

For the disciples, the transfiguration filled them with trepidation and fear. They fell to the ground in holy awe. This sense of holy fear and the greatness of the divine is something that perhaps is lacking in our culture today. We have lost the sense of God’s holiness and of the greatness of his majestic being. It was the awesome splendour and majesty of Jesus; it was the appearance of Elijah and Moses; it was the voice of the living God that made the disciples quivering wrecks. They did not fully understand what was going on, other than it was divine and sacred, and something that they wanted to hold on to, hence Peter’s suggestion of building three booths.

For the disciples, it was a sacred moment. A moment that they would never forget. Indeed, in John’s gospel, John says: we beheld his glory, and in the first letter to Peter, Peter says: “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty,” and, “We were with him on the holy mountain.” I have no doubt these disciples themselves were transfigured by this divine encounter that day and beyond. I think for them it marked a change. I suppose the transfiguration spoke to them of a change that was going to happen but one that they are not yet ready to embrace. They knew that it was about leaving behind old concepts and embracing the new. God is calling them on to new and unseen ventures. For the disciples the moment of transfiguration was one of insight, change and vision.

For us the transfiguration is one of hope – of great hope. Let’s not overlook the fact the Moses and Elijah are alive and that our God is the God of the living. So first and foremost, there is life after death. Our God is a God of hope.

Secondly notice how Jesus is there for his disciples. He gently touches them. He touched them – probably because he knew what they were thinking: Pinch me, so I know I’m not dreaming! He touched them in a gesture of comfort and reassurance. He touched them in order to help them refocus their eyes and their minds. Like you would do with someone who is panicking or losing control. Maybe Jesus took them by the shoulders, looked them in the eyes, and said, “Look at me. I’m right here. Everything is okay.”

Then he uttered those powerful words, “get up and be not afraid.” How many times have we been confronted with change, our views and perspectives challenged like the disciples and we feel uncertain, confused and not sure what to do next. Fear is the natural human response to things we can’t understand. We are afraid of what we can’t see, afraid of what doesn’t make sense to us. We fall down like those overwhelmed disciples, and hide from the things that confuse us. It is in that very moment that Jesus reaches out to touch us, to remind us of his presence, and he says, “Get up. Stop being afraid.” Jesus comes to us in whatever circumstances or change we find ourselves, touches us and says “Get up, don’t be afraid.” It is the promise that although life has changed, it has not ended. Somehow new life is hidden in the midst of change, even when we cannot see it or believe it.

So, the transfiguration communicates on different levels- for Jesus the transfiguration is one of intimate union and communion with his Father, and also with Moses and Elijah. This union and communion give Jesus reassurance, strength and encouragement.

For the disciples, the transfiguration is one of revelation, of holy awe and reverence, and of change.

For us, today’s disciples the transfiguration is about hope, pastoral comfort, and support. We pray that the transfiguration would reveal to us afresh the glory of God and that we like the disciples might have a sense of God’s majesty and holiness, and so bow down in holy fear, willing to listen to him. Amen

THE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one substance with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father.
With the Father and the Son,
he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

PRAYERS

Master, Chosen One, your radiant glory
fills your church with hope and expectation
Transform our actions as we listen to
and wait upon your presence.
Make us a people prepared
to declare your love with boldness and trust.

Lord of glory
We behold the mystery of your love

Master, Chosen One, on the mountain
the world was revealed to be subject to your rule.
We entrust to you the nations of the world,
particularly at this time Ukraine and Russia,
and all who are working for peace and security.
We entrust to you all who charged
with the responsibility of leadership and governing.
Transform our structures with your justice and peace.

Lord of glory
We behold the mystery of your love

Master, Chosen One, Peter rushed to preserve
the moment of your transfiguration.
Capture our hearts for your Kingdom
Make us agents of transformation
in public and private relationships.

Lord of glory
We behold the mystery of your love

Master Chosen One, on coming down from the mountain
you healed the boy held in grip of convulsions.
Pour out your transforming love on all
who cry for release from their pain and sufferings…
touch them with your healing and strength.

Lord of glory
We behold the mystery of your love

Master Chosen One, you spoke with the ancient prophets
of your impending passion and resurrection.
Transform our fear, let us glimpse heaven
and brings us with all the faithful departed safely home.

Lord of glory
We behold the mystery of your love

Master Chosen One, thank you for providing always
the encouragement and inspiration we need
for the work you would have us do;
give us grace to trust your will for us
and to walk boldly in your company.

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

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.
Do not bring us
to the time of trial+
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.

BLESSING

Christ the Son of God gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN

DISMISSAL

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

Donations

You can donate to St John’s by credit or debit card by following these links.

St John’s Bellringers on Border Life video

Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

Facebook

St John's Church

5 days 14 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, Pentecost Day, 19th May, when the choir of St John's

St John's Church

1 week 3 days ago

Sunday 12th May 2024 is our Eucharistic Services at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. Contemporary Service is at 6pm on 12th

St John's Church

2 weeks 3 days ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW this Sunday, 5th May, at 6pm, where the choir of St John's Church will

St John's Church

2 weeks 3 days ago

Sunday 5th May 2024 is our Eucharistic Services at 8:00am & 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. Choral evensong is at 6pm