Transfiguration, March 2, 2014

Title:Transfiguration, March 2, 2014

  Sunday, March 2, 2014  (full size gallery)

This was Last Epiphany, the Sunday before the beginnning of Lent. We had 39 in Church on a generally cloudy day, some sunshine peaking through with warming temperatures. By noon, our coats were no long necessary. The talk of the church, however, was on an approaching winter storm early next week on Monday that could dump 8 inches of snow. Despite this spring buds were coming up from the dogwood and magnolias.

The attendance was helped by Helmut’s return after a month’s vacation in Florida visiting the Everetts and the Newmans there. Brad had some special "medicine" for his return. Fred was back after a recent illness that took him to the hospital. Also back were the lady bugs above the doors and above the stained glass windows in the gallery.

Catherine taught the congregation the "Repeating Alleluia" by Calvin Hampton before the service as the sequence hymn. When the hymn came around in the service, paper alleluias descended from the "clouds." (Hampton was a leading choral music composer who unfortunately died early at age 45).  

The sermon was on the subject of the word "alleluia."

 The central meaning of the sermon is contained in these paragraphs:

"In praying over this scripture, I’ve become convinced that this event did not happen just to prove to the disciples that Jesus was truly the Son of God. They had heard this news already from God’s mouth at the baptism of Jesus. This moment is a powerful reminder and that’s important for us as disciples, here at the end of Epiphany—the season of light, the season of scripture after scripture and story after story that reveals the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.  

"But I think this transfiguration is most of all God’s gift, God’s Alleluia to Jesus.

"Jesus has set his face toward Jerusalem. He knows that this journey is going to end in suffering and death and at last in resurrection. But just think how hard this road ahead will be. I know very few human beings who are going to walk down a road of suffering with an alleluia heartbeat—even with an alleluia end in sight." So God gives Jesus a reminder. Beyond the suffering and death will be resurrection, blinding, shining light, transfiguration, transformation, Jesus entering into an eternity of alleluias. “This is my beloved Son.” This moment is the alleluia Jesus needs for the next part of his journey, and Jesus, does, we know, enter into the grimmest times of his suffering with a heart that beats with praise to God."

We celebrated Becky Fishers’s birthday this week.  In addition, most of Alex family was present including Justin and his fiance Karen and Alex V and his wife Elizageth. The children were all present during coffee hour. Alex VI particularly enjoyed the ravioli. (We didn’t have Godly Play this week since Amy was away.)

We said thank you to Cookie who is leaving the newsletter, the Parish Post, after 12 years. Cookie also arranged the flowers on the altar in memory of her brother, James Davis.

Many of the announcements were over approaching Lent events starting with Ash Wed.

Coffee hour was the product of the hard work of Nancy, Eunice and Cookie.  There were assorted cheese and crackers and fruit, chicken soup and ravioli (mainly for the children). Nancy made the wonderful and thick chicken soup.  Eunice cooked a wonderful blueberry pound cake and also provided cookies. Being March, the St Patrick’s theme was prominent.

After coffee hour, we took communion to Genevieve. Linda, Jenna and Cookie were also there providing a chance for a family portrait.

The following is a meditation on the scriptures from Canon Lance Ousley of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. He reviews the scriptures weekly and relates them to  stewardship topics. His meditation is about time.  

Time can be considered both linear and vertical.  In the linear view we are travellers through time, usually as a secondary part of our discussion.  We talk about this week, last week and next week in relationship to something else – work, recreation and other tasks.  The same with months.  Vertical is our appreciation of periods of time. As we move from Epiphany to Lent and through the church seasons they become stopping points in our journey.  We reflect on what has changed from one to another and anticipate future events. Here is his meditation:

"How we spend our time is an integral part of the practice of holistic stewardship and formation of the Christian disciple’s heart. And how we spend our time has a direct relationship with other aspects of stewardship and faith development. This is because these are spiritual endeavors that are highly affected by personal experience.

"Each of our readings for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany, including both options from the Psalms, connect in some way with the idea of how time is spent. As I have reflected on these texts the contrast between reactive using of time and the intentional spending of time has presented itself to me. One is haphazard or reactive for self-satisfaction and the other is responsible and thoughtful for the good of the community. This can be a useful discussion as we prepare to spend our time in the next few weeks in observance of a holy Lent.  

"In the Exodus reading God instructs Moses to come up the mountain to receive the law and commandments. Moses accepts God’s invitation bringing Joshua with him and instructing the elders to wait for his return, leaving Arron and Hur there to judge any disputes. Moses and Joshua spent six days on the mountain side as God’s "glory settled on Mount Sinai and the cloud covered it." Then God called Moses to come up the mountain to be in God’s presence into and through the cloud which was like a "devouring fire" to those below. Moses spent forty days and forty nights on the mountain in the presence of God receiving instruction from God for the people of Israel. The details of this time spent with God are outlined in the following chapters through the end of ch. 31. In this discussion of time spent, it is important to remember that Exodus 32 records how the people of Israel used this time fashioning the Golden Calf while Moses was on the mountain with God. There is much to reflect upon in this contrast alone!

"Psalm 2 presents the dangerous fruitlessness of misused time in uproar, revolt and derision against God and one another. And it presents the blessed happiness of those who spend their time in the refuge of God. Psalm 99 simply encourages us in the faithful spending of our time proclaiming the greatness of God in worship and in our lives.

"In the passage from 2 Peter, Peter describes to his hearers how they faithfully spent their time both in making known the power and coming of Jesus Christ and in their presence with him on the Mount of Transfiguration. Additionally in his argument Peter states that they did not misuse their time devising some mythic scheme about Jesus. Peter, also, encourages them and us in how they and we should spend our time being attentive to the message about Jesus Christ and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The truth is no one has to make anything up about God’s blessings. If we spend time open to God’s presence the Holy Spirit will reveal divine blessings upon the world far greater than we could ever devise in our thoughts and dreams.

"Openness to the Spirit means we need to spend time listening. In the Gospel lesson this week we definitely hear the command to spend time listening to Jesus. Jesus does not respond to Peter’s offering to build dwelling places so that they can remain there "in the moment." But here in Matthew’s version of the Transfiguration, Jesus comforts Peter, James and John telling them to get up and not to be afraid. Then, Jesus instructs them to tell no one of what they have seen "until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." Here Jesus is telling them how they are to spend their time, both in the present and in the future after his resurrection. And we might note that in the following verses after they descend the mountain, Jesus immediately spends time healing a child of his disease. Whether this was circumstantial or not we do know that Jesus chose to spend his first moments off the Mount of Transfiguration doing this healing work. We also know that all of the Synoptic Gospel writers chose to include this story of Jesus spending time healing the little child who would have been considered fairly worthless in his culture, and exhorting his disciples to have faith and to exercise their faith. <

" What would it mean for us in faith to be more intentional in spending our time instead of simply using it?

" How would spending more time listening to Jesus change the way we "spend" our talents and our treasure? Blessings on time well spent this Lent."

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