NOTICE TO ON-DEMAND WORSHIPPERS
In order to expedite posting the worship services here on our website, we are reducing the transcript to just the scriptures used and the message. Union Grove UMC in partnership with Southland Books & Cafe, began holding Second Sunday Community Church in January 2023. Second Sunday Community Church takes place at 3 p.m. ET the second Sunday of every month, meets in-person at The Bird & The Book, and is also live-streamed on Facebook. Holy Communion is offered at every Second Sunday service. If you are worshipping on Second Sundays online whether during the live-cast or through on-demand viewing, you are encouraged to have bread and juice or wine available as you watch the service and to participate in communion just as if you are present with us.
God, open us to hear and receive your scriptures today as you would have us hear them, understand them as you would have us understand them, and to act upon them as you would have us act upon them.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Scriptures this morning are included in the message.
Mountain High, Valley Low – A Message on Transfiguration Sunday
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer, and may you see fit to use me as a vessel from which you pour out your Divine Word.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In this week’s preaching notes from Derek Weber of Discipleship ministries, he talks about all the falderal of last week’s Super Bowl game and how, even for a diehard football fan like him, there is just a little too much hype about that game. The pregame show starts at 1 p.m., even though the game doesn’t start until after 6:00. Is that really necessary? There hasn’t been a day when there wasn’t some mention of the game. The hyperbole is rampant on the sports pages these days. And even the front pages. Super Sunday has leaked out onto the “real news” sections.
Weber says even sports fans like him have to sit up and say, wait a minute. We’ve blown things out of proportion. We’ve gone a little bit crazy here, haven’t we? It seems excessive, to say the least.
We Christians are supposed to be a quieter sort. The big show, the over-the-top kind of display is supposed to make us uncomfortable. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, go into the closet to pray, don’t parade your piety; these are the kinds of guidelines we were given by which to live. All this hype, all this attention, all this wide-screen technicolor display makes us squirm. That might be why the Transfiguration was never that popular with most Christians.
You have to admit it though. For the time, the production values on that mountain top were pretty spectacular. Spectacular enough that three of the four gospels record this scene, though there are subtle differences in the telling. Yet, the clear implication is that there is something important going on here. There is some message, some hint, some understanding that we need to glean from the light show recorded in these verses. Jesus, who seems relatively sensible most of the time, all of a sudden pulls out all the stops and goes for the glitz, for the big show, the Super Sunday. It seems out of character somehow. It seems over the top.
Of course, we would never think that way because it is in the Bible and therefore must be important. Instead, we just ignore it most of the time. But what if we just went with it for a while? What if we filed into the stands and got our popcorn and nachos and watched the show taking place on that mountain top? What might we see?
Our first question has to be, “Who is this for?” Are we looking over Jesus’ shoulder as he reads his email, or is this addressed to us? This question has been debated hotly over the centuries, and there is no clear consensus. No, I take that back, the consensus is Yes! There is an element that is clearly a message to Jesus and is a part of the march toward Jerusalem that takes over the rest of the gospel. It is a pep talk, a half-time speech from the coach and the assistant coaches (Moses and Elijah, in this case.) But there is another component that is clearly a message to the followers, which includes us.
The Transfiguration quote is twofold: Part One – “This is my beloved Son” (or my son the Beloved, or my son whom I love – translation is a tricky business), which is a statement of authority. If the lightshow weren’t enough, now we have an interpretation – Jesus participates in (is a part of, comes from – theology is tricky too) the divinity of God. Part Two: “listen to him.”
It’s that second part that Peter messed up on. There he is with his foam finger (Jesus #1!) And his face painted in Jesus colors (I don’t know what Jesus colors might be – hmm, black and blue? Blood red?) and says “I wanna coach!” Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but what he was trying to do was to make a declaration about what was going on up on that mountain. He was trying to stake a claim, to second his confession by setting up a tent, or a tabernacle to contain the glory of God. The problem was, he couldn’t contain the glory of God. This was God’s moment; this was Jesus’ moment to shine like the sun. It was a little presumptuous of Peter to want to put it in a tent. His job was to stand, or kneel, or fall on his face in awe and wonder—which he finally managed to do.
Our first responsibility is to worship. We are awestruck (when we really pay attention) by the wonder and the glory and awesomeness of God. Falling to our knees or lifting our hands and our voices in praise and singing, lifting our hearts in joy and compassion, is what worship is about.
I love that word “compassion.” The implication is that the passion we feel is to be shared, that’s the “com” prefix. Our worship should do more than just give us a warm feeling in our hearts. It should transform us to shine like the sun as we bring light and life to those around us. Our family, our neighbors, our coworkers should know that we have been to worship. Because they see in us the desire to listen to Jesus. Worship is our moment to hear again the call to serve, the call to love, the call to give ourselves away. Worship is all about Jesus, but it is at the same time all about us. About him as the beloved Son and us as the ones drawn together in community and privileged to be able to listen to him. That means, and I know you saw this coming from the opening paragraph, for a follower of Jesus Christ every Sunday is a Super Sunday.
We come before you,
many of us feeling like we have climbed just a part of the mountain,
and there is so much more of a climb left to even get to point
to dream that we might be dazzled by what is Divine.
Our loads are heavy,
with worry, with regret,
with fatigue, with illness,
with despair for all in the world
that is hurting, in danger, in bondage and more.
We trudge ahead, following you,
stumbling, hoping, praying…
breathing hard, hearts pounding, and yes,
even some of us are nimble and skipping.
Lead us Lord,
to the top of that mountain,
where we might be dazzled by your Light,
lifted by what is Divine,
filled by the sheer delight
of what is numinous and ethereal and grounded and real.
We pray this,
for ourselves, for one another,
and for the worlds in which we live in.
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