TENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST 6TH AUGUST 2023

OPENING SENTENCE

The Lord our God is the holy one.

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 be 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 Jesus 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

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.

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

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Billy Dewar Riddick

COLLECT

Almighty and everlasting God,
who revealed the glory of your beloved Son
when he was transfigured on the holy mountain:
mercifully grant us such vision of his divine majesty,
that being purified and strengthened by your grace,
we may be transformed into his likeness,
from glory to glory;
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

FIRST READING
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
read by Amie Byers and delegates of Ring House Group at SEC Provincial Youth Week 2023

Judgment before the Ancient One

As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
and an Ancient One took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
and its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
that shall never be destroyed.

SECOND READING
2 Peter 1:16-19
read by Gill Swales

Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Glory

For 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.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
Luke 9: 28-36
read by Rev Chris Wren

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Luke, chapter 9, beginning at verse 28.

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

The Transfiguration

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses, and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking about his exodus, which he was about to fulfil in Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep, but as they awoke, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us set up three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah,” not realizing what he was saying. 

While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son; my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and in those days, told no one any of the things they had seen.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

The picture on the front of our current church magazine shows our Lenten chrysalis transformed at Easter into a butterfly. In my biology class at Spiers’ School in Beith, we were taught that this was metamorphosis, when one thing or person changes its form or nature into a completely different one. Transformation shares this same meaning of a marked change in form or appearance. But interestingly in our gospel reading we speak of the transfiguration of Jesus and not the transformation or the metamorphosis of Jesus. Why?

As I pondered this, I came to the conclusion, that the choice of the word transfiguration is very important. It is not just pedantry. By using the word transfigured something significant is being communicated here. What is being said is that Jesus did not change in form or nature to something or someone else but rather the word transfigured emphasises the divine glory which was already hidden in Jesus was allowed for a moment to shine through his human body.

To Peter, James and John, Jesus was seen completely differently in their eyes, while the passage says nothing at all about Jesus being changed. We use the word “transfigured” instead of the word “transformed” to emphasize that this is still Jesus, and still identifiable as Jesus. As best we can tell, Peter, James, and John were not confused. They knew it was Jesus. He looked different, but he was clearly the same Jesus. He was “transfigured,” not “transformed.”

This transfiguration for me holds the same magnitude of importance as the birth of Jesus and his resurrection. I think that is why the Scottish Episcopal Church features the Transfiguration twice each liturgical year, on the last Sunday of Epiphany and today on its feast day.

The context of the transfiguration is important. Only six days previous to this event, Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah, and Jesus himself informed his disciples of his impending death and resurrection. To say that the disciples were struggling with this concept of death would be an understatement. Jesus was wrestling too with the thought of the crucifixion and the cross. Much weighed on the hearts and minds of Jesus and his disciples. There was a desperate need to withdraw for a while to pray and restore vision and perspective.

In a crisis Jesus tends to invite his close team of three, Peter, James and John to accompany him. I think this was a crisis moment for Jesus in his ministry. The cross and crucifixion were looming large before him, and the thoughts of it consumed him. He found it all extremely daunting and disconcerting. Jesus in his humanity needed at this point in his ministry courage, strength, and reassurance. The disciples on the other hand are perplexed and confused how can the Messiah die on a cross, surely, he has come to rescue them and bring about a new kingdom. The disciples needed vision, understanding, and hope. The Transfiguration meets the needs of both.

Jesus and the three disciples are caught up in the palpable presence of God. They are in what is known as a thin place. Thin places describe the veil being parted between this world and the other world, between heaven and earth, between human and divine, between matter and spirit, between the eternal and temporal. In the thin place the duality of those pairings disappears, and we stand in union, in wholeness, and ultimately holiness.

The difficulty for us is that we often limit our world and our experience to the five senses, to that which is understood, verifiable and explainable. The five senses themselves in some way become the veil that separates us from that other world. Thin places invite us to step outside the five senses, in other words to step outside what we know, what we can understand or explain. They invite us to be astounded by the greatness and glory of God-to experience as Rudolf Otto called it – the numinous.

Peter, James, and John had this numinous experience. It was a terrifying experience- to see Jesus’ entire body and clothing lit up like the sun and to see two ancient biblical heroes appearing out of nowhere- it is little wonder that they fell to the ground in awe and fear. Jesus led them to this thin place, a place where human ears would hear God’s voice; where human eyes would see divine light, and human life would be enveloped in God’s presence and never be the same again. It was a terrifying but also an incredibly wonderful encounter- that they wanted to hold on to for ever and ever, hence Peter’s blunder about building three shelters. It was an experience that shaped their lives and one they never forgot as our epistle reading today reminded us- they were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration.

That experience is the great longing of you and I, of humanity. We long to stand in the thin place and step through the veil that parts. It is that longing that has encouraged pilgrims to travel to holy places. It is that longing that causes us to persevere in prayer and the study of scripture. It is that longing, in part, that brings us to church today. We want to come face to face with the real, the holy, the numinous.

That was what happened to Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor. They came face to face with the real – the holy. It was not simply an outer experience that could be tasted, touched, smelt, seen, or heard. It was rather an experience of inner transformation, one that left them silent- an experience that was too previous for words!

This is not simply a story just about Peter, James, and John. It is for all of us. We too are called to thin places. We too are invited to step through the parted veil. Transfiguration is all around us. Jesus is always leading us to the thin places of our life.

Think for a moment about the thin places in your own life-those moments when you have sensed the holy, experienced the numinous. Maybe it was the beauty of an evening sunset, maybe it was holding your first child or grandchild, maybe it was a new beginning, maybe it was sitting in the deep silence of God’s presence.

We do not often talk about these experiences- these thin places, we like James, John and Peter keep our silence, it is not because these encounters are not real; it is rather that they are too real, too real for words. Words could never describe the experience and words would simply diminish the mystery and greatness of that numinous encounter. We are now different and can never go back to the way it was before. That moment of encounter now resides eternally within us. Instead of talking about it, trying to explain it, we live astounded by it all. We see life differently- we see, hear, taste, touch and smell, the greatness and glory of God.

This encounter of the greatness and glory of God transformed the lives of Peter, James, and John. This encounter also made its mark on Jesus. It was real pastoral moment for Jesus of encouragement, guidance and affirmation. Jesus has been challenged by Peter to deny the cross and although Jesus 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- when he is reaffirmed as God’s 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 theologian Karl Barth sees this encounter as a miracle and notes that this miracle is unique among all the miracle stories in the Gospels, because it happened to Jesus, not by Jesus. The transfiguration was for Jesus a moment of intimacy, union, and encouragement.

For us the transfiguration is firstly one of hope – of great hope. There is much more to this world than our eyes can conceive! There is eternal life. Moses and Elijah are alive and that our God is the God of the living.

Secondly it reminds us too of the power and significance of prayer- it can part the veil between heaven and earth and draw us into that thin place, where we can encounter the greatness and glory of God.

Thirdly just as Jesus was there for Peter, James, and John, when he uttered those powerful words, “get up and be not afraid.” Jesus comes to us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, touches us, and says “Get up, don’t be afraid.” It is the promise that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us but will draw us to himself and strengthen us. Jesus the transfigured one is in the business of transformation- we are called afresh to trust in him! Amen.

NICENE 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,
eternally begotten of the Father,
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.

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 bring 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 for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

The peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,
and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:
and the blessing of God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord.

In the name of Christ.

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.

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St John's Church

1 day 3 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John’s Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

1 day 3 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to Choral Evensong for Lent, this coming Sunday 3rd March, 6pm, at St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, sung by the

St John's Church

6 days 3 hours ago

Sunday 25th February 2024 is our Eucharistic Service at 11:00am! You are most welcome to come along to our service. Be great to see you! Contemporary service is on Sunday

St John's Church

6 days 5 hours ago

Booking is necessary to attend the Pamper Session on Thursday 14th March starting at 3.45pm until 6pm, in St John’s Church Hall, Lovers’ Walk, Dumfries, DG1 1LW. For more information