ORDER OF WORSHIP
- Prelude – Who Can (Reprise), Cochren & Co.
- Welcome & Prayer – Rev. Ohle
- Call to Worship – Whole World, Cochren & Co.
- Prayers of the People – Rev. Ohle
- Scripture Reading – 1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (MSG), 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (MSG), Mark 9:2-9 (NRSV)
- Message – The Transfiguration – Rev. Ohle
- Anthem – He’s Not Here, Cochren & Co.
- Service of Holy Communion
- Benediction – Rev. Ohle
- Postlude – Who Can (Reprise), Cochren & Co.
Hello! I’m Rev. Val Ohle, pastor of Union Grove United Methodist Church in Friendsville and I want to welcome you to this morning’s worship service.
Before we begin, the season of Lent begins this Wednesday, February 17, with Ash Wednesday. I’ll be posting a special service for Ash Wednesday that should be available by 7:00 p.m. that evening. Unfortunately, COVID is going to prevent us from meeting in person to have the Imposition of the Ashes, but that doesn’t change our need to acknowledge the coming season.
Next, if you’re financially able, please consider returning to the practice of making weekly or regular offerings just as if you were sitting in the sanctuary and were handed the offering plate. That we are worshipping online is not a factor in whether we honor our commitment to God through weekly offerings. Our commitment to God doesn’t change based on location.
Offerings can be made online through a secure service provided by Holston Conference or you can mail them in. The information needed to do either is available on our website, at the end of this video, and in our weekly worship bulletins sent through our email list.
We’re going up a mountain with Jesus today. I hope you find this week’s journey transformational. Let’s begin with a prayer:
We worship you, O God, with songs of praise. We worship you with words of prayer and with ears that listen for you to speak your saving truth into our lives.
We worship you in the silent spaces where we struggle for hope and for courage.
We long for a glimpse of your glory: the glory that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it; the glory that touches lives with a beauty so holy that it heals the wounded soul; the glory that gives strength to the weary.
We, who stumble and fall so often, worship you, longing for your light to shine upon us.
Dazzle us with your holy love, draw us into your purifying presence, speak to us your transforming truth.
Then, grant us grace to live every moment changed by such glory—daring to live with hope and courage and love reflecting the life of Jesus, through whom your glory shines in the most unexpected ways.
Please join me in this morning’s call to worship:
Beyond our busyness, above the cold winter floor there is a glory rising born of heaven
and reaching out to each one of us.
A light that shines through the clouds,
an invitation seeking all of who we are
that transfigures the world,
that transforms darkness into hope
that brings life from a cross
where old life ends, and new life is born
In glory Jesus meets us here
raising us from depths of valley to the height of the mountain
carrying the weight of our humanity
to the heights of heavens glory.
Let us worship from the mountain and hear again “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
This is the time we spend in praise and prayer. For those of you who have sent me prayer requests or made me aware of others in need of prayer, please understand I do not say their names in the prayer to protect their privacy, but I am lifting up any prayer requests you’ve sent me, and your unspoken prayers as well. There may be one or more moments of pause during the prayer for you to lift any prayers of your own. There may also be points in the prayer where you will be prompted to respond out loud. Just watch the screen and if words appear in front of me, say them with me.
Now, please join me in prayer:
God who holds the whole world in your hands, God who sees us no matter how hard we try to hide, God of beginnings and endings and all in between, we praise you and thank you for the gifts and blessings you bestow on us, especially your gifts of grace, peace, strength, and courage.
Please hear our hearts now as we lift to you any and all, known and unknown to us who need your grace, mercy, comfort and healing. We lift up to you now
- All those in need of healing from infirmities of body, mind, and spirit
- All those facing difficult decisions about their own health or the health of a loved one
- All those tasked with being caregivers
- All those who are grieving any loss whether of life, love, job, home, companionship, financial security, faith, sense of well-being, or sense of direction for their future.
- All those who suffer from rejection, exclusion, oppression, and isolation, who have been pushed out, told their unworthy, feel they’ve been abandoned, made to feel less.
- All those who have been forgotten, who have never known or been told they are Your child
- All those who have been treated as less than Your child because of the color of their skin, the way they believe, or who they’ve chosen to love.
- All those who are living in a state of confusion, who are victims of misinformation and misdirection, who suffer the manipulation and exploitation of dark and malicious forces both earthly and underworldly
- All those who have been taught that your scriptures justify their hate, and all those to blinded to see your truth.
Lord, in your mercy, be with them as you are with me.
God, I lift up to you this church … both the physical church here at Union Grove that has served you for so very long and its virtual congregation that is growing each week. Guide us, strengthen us and give us the courage to discern and carry out the tasks you would have us do. Inspire us to reach out in love and welcome to all your children. Move us to love one another. Move us to continue to work beyond the walls of our building, to venture out into our community both near and far, and to fearlessly serve all we encounter.
Lord, in your mercy, grace, and wisdom, mold us to be your church.
O Holy One, on mountaintops and valley floors you reveal to us the light of your love. Our heart’s desire is to bask in the amazing glory of the divine presence. With each encounter, we are changed and transformed.
Draw us nearer that we might receive a double portion of your Holy Spirit. Help us, O Holy One, to live our lives as a reflection of divine glory.
May we walk among our brothers and sister as a blessing, bearing light into dark places, hope to displace despair, and love that casts out hate. Our world is hurting and we need the followers of Jesus to follow more closely. Maybe then we will hear your voice speaking to us and saying,
… “listen to my Child, the Beloved!”
Hear us now, Lord, as we pray the prayer our Savior taught us with one voice…
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”
O God, most holy and praised: As Your Son gathered disciples to himself to teach them your ways, so your Spirit has gathered us in this time and place. Make us alert and attentive as we read and reflect on Your scriptures; help us take them to heart and live into them so that your will is truly done on earth as in heaven. We pray in the name of our true Teacher, Jesus Christ. Amen.
1 Corinthians 13:6-7 (MSG)
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6 (MSG)
If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.
Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “Light up the darkness!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.
Mark 9:2-9 (NRSV)
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.
The scriptures of God for the People of God.
Thanks be to God.
MESSAGE – The Transfiguration
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer. Amen.
I want to encourage you to read Mark 1 through 8. You see, a great deal has happened leading up to this trip up the mountain we’re about to take and it’s hard to work all of it into one message. By the time we reach the foot of this mountain, Jesus has chosen all twelve of the disciples and they’ve traveled extensively through Galilee. Jesus has taught, healed lepers, the deaf, dumb, blind and infirm, cast out demons, fed thousands from a few loaves and fishes … twice, raised the dead, and constantly, consistently, told those he healed or who witnessed a healing not to tell anyone what has taken place or who he is.
And, just as it is with the world today, they all whispered the events to their neighbors and friends and families and the crowds following Jesus are growing exponentially. The news is even getting ahead of him to the point that crowds are waiting wherever he goes.
Just six days before the mountain, Jesus and his disciples headed out for the villages around Caesarea Philippi. As they walked, he asked, “Who do the people say I am?”
“Some say ‘John the Baptizer,’” they said. “Others say ‘Elijah.’ Still others say ‘one of the prophets.’”
He then asked, “And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?”
Peter gave the answer: “You are the Christ, the Messiah.”
Once again, “Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.
But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”
What Jesus had to say next is important. Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?
“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”
Then he drove it home by saying, “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.”
Six days passed after that conversation leading to where we are in his story this morning. He has invited Peter, John and James … three of his four fishers of men … to go with him to this mountain. He’s led them up the mountain with him, high up the mountain, and on this day, these three men have, with their own eyes, witnessed the kingdom of God in full force.
They have seen Jesus change from the human rabbi and teacher they’ve come to know. That change has been from the inside out and … AND … they’ve just laid eyes on Moses who represents the laws of God and Elijah who represents all the other prophets of God!
They’re dumbfounded. So dumbfounded, the best Peter can offer up is, “Hey! Let us build you each a tent?!?”
I imagine I would have been so dumbfounded, I wouldn’t have even thought of offering to build tents. I’d of just stood there with my lower jaw resting solidly on the ground at my feet.
But, I digress. It’s easy to get caught up in the whole scene … after all, there is God Incarnate in all his glory standing there with unarguably two of the most faithful servants of God ever, two people who represent the story of God and man standing there with the one person who has been with God and been God from before the beginning. Suffice it to see, it must have been amazing.
What I see as important in this story is that Jesus has repeatedly said from the beginning of his ministry … “keep this to yourself for now” … and no one up to this point has really listened. Everything he’s done up to this point has been whispered from person to person throughout the land. And today … today up on that mountain in the presence of the Transfigured Christ, Moses, and Elijah, the Voice of God says, “This is my son, my beloved son … LISTEN to him!”
Hear him. Heed what he’s telling you. Pay attention. Do what he says. Don’t quibble, don’t argue, don’t doubt, don’t question. Listen to him.
Transfiguration is the word we’ve been taught to use when we talk about this event. The original text which is in Greek uses the word metamorphothe from which we get the word metamorphosis. And of course, we know that metamorphosis means to change from one thing to another.
Following Christ, following his teaching, living our lives in Christ is or at least should be our transfiguration … our metamorphosis. When we truly follow him, truly do what he has taught us to do, we are changed. That change … to become kingdom builders with him instead of kingdom seekers … to become last instead of first, servants instead of kings … that is the transformation that will save us and from which we can change the world.
Think about it. To set aside all the worldly ways that hold us in the continual darkness of sin. To stop this ridiculous practice of claiming to “love the sinner, hate the sin.” What is that anyway? Are any of us truly qualified to judge the sins of another? NO! No, no, a thousand times NO!
No, brothers and sisters, we need to climb this mountain with Jesus today, we need the cloud of the Spirit to descend down upon us, around us, over us, and we need to let it wash away the world so that we too are transformed to the living, breathing body of Christ.
We need to heed God and LISTEN to Jesus who told us in no uncertain terms, LOVE one another as I have loved you and then we need to remember he loved us so much and so well and so without judgment that he laid down his own life for us knowing we were not worthy of it.
We don’t need to worry about who we’re welcoming into our church. We just need to welcome everyone and let God go to work. We don’t need to reserve justice for a few and withhold it from others. We need to make sure that justice rolls down like water for everyone.
To quote Thom M. Shuman, author of “A Communion Liturgy on the Theme of The Transfiguration”, “I don’t know if the Transfiguration really happened as we are told, but I believe that the story is in the Gospels for a reason: that it says something to us about how following Jesus will transform our lives in unexpected ways; about how we are given visions of the Kingdom in everyday life.
“I don’t know if God spoke in a voice which Peter and the others could clearly understand. But I do trust that God speaks to us – if we are willing to open ourselves up: that the voice of God is heard in the laughter of children, in the questioning doubts of teenagers, and in the stories of wise ones who are only too willing to share, if we’d just stop … and sit down … and listen …
I don’t know if what [Mark or Luke or Matthew] tells us is an actual event, an allegory, a short story of what. But I do know that I am called to act on what I believe and trust in the story.
Which is, that in Jesus I catch glimpses of what God is doing in the world – that in Jesus I see someone I want to follow for the rest of my life; that with Jesus I find myself on mountain tops and in valleys and in every place in between, but never find myself alone anywhere.
But to act, I need to trust what God is saying:
That the world can be transformed from darkness to light, even as I can; that love is stronger than hate; that I am loved, even when others tell me differently; that goodness is the path which I am meant to walk, and others will help me to follow the Way, as I can be a guide to them.”
Our opening song talked about God having the whole world in His hands. In your mind’s eye you probably see a pair of hands holding our big blue marble of a planet, and they do. But … at the same time … those very same hands are holding you … just you and each of you and all of you. Don’t forget that. You are each being held by God, by the Creator of all that is and was and will be who loves you and protects you and wants the best for you.
So, heed the words of the Son of God that your transformation and my transformation and the transformation of our families, our friends, our communities, our nations, our world can begin. This is God’s son, His most beloved … LISTEN to him.
Because we are having communion today, I’m going to reserve the closing prayer for the service of Holy Communion which will begin following the anthem.
Please have enough bread and juice or another beverage available for those in your household who will be participating.
SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION
Because the Service of Holy Communion can only be carried out by clergy in the United Methodist Church, I will not be posting the transcript of this portion of worship. I encourage you to watch the video at the beginning of this post.
Thank you, again, for worshipping with me today. Again, if you can, please consider making your weekly offering just as if we were meeting in person. The information for doing so will be on your screen in just a moment.
Now hear this benediction:
Go now, and speak of what you have seen of God’s glory. Do not cling to the holy moments when heaven overshadows you, but as the Lord lives, listen to Christ and follow him from the places of revelation to the places of mission.
And may God shine the light of glory into your hearts.
May Christ be with you and never leave you.
And may the Spirit renew the image of God within you.
Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask when you go out, get your COVID vaccination as soon as you’re eligible, really truly love your neighbors … even the ones you’d rather not. God be with you. Now go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
……..In the name of Christ. Amen.
- All music from Cochren & Co.’s Don’t Lose Hope album
- Opening Prayer: Christine Jerrett: Reflections on Being the Church in God’s New Creation
- Call to Worship: Rev. Rob Smith, Spirit of Life Presbyterian Church, Apple Valley, MN
- Portions of Pastoral Prayer: Rev. Madison Shockley, pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA
- Communion Liturgy: Adapted from A Communion Liturgy on the Theme of The Transfiguration by Thom M. Shuman.
- Benediction by Nathan Nettleton
Even though we can’t meet together in person, the church still has expenses that need to be met. If you are able, please consider making an offering or paying your tithes through the online service provided by Holston Conference. It’s safe. It’s free. It will help us continue ministry at Union Grove.
Just visit http://www.holston.org/churchoffering, and follow the instruction for making your offering. When asked, please choose Smoky Mountain District and Union Grove UMC Blount – Friendsville.
If you are not comfortable using a debit or credit card online, you can mail your offerings/tithes to:
Smoky Mountain District
PO Box 905
Alcoa TN 37701-0905
Please be sure to make your checks payable to Smoky Mountain District and write “Union Grove UMC Friendsville” on the memo line!