Lectionary - Transfiguration (Last Sunday after Epiphany) - Year A

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Exodus 24:12-18 Moses on the mountain
Psalm 2 The Lord's decree ... "You are my son."
Or Psalm 99 He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud
2 Peter 1:16-21 We had been eye witnesses of his majesty
Matthew 17:1-9 The Transfiguration

Suggested Hymns (From Denis Towner. TIS = Together in Song; AHB = Australian Hymn Book; SA = Sing Alleluia)
lesson Hymns for Transfiguration Sunday, Yr.A TIS AHB SA
All creatures of our God and King 100 3
E Author of faith, eternal Word 565 473
O Captain of Israel's host and guide 574 485
E Christ is the world's true light 238 179
G Christ upon the mountain peak 243 19
G Christ whose glory fills the skies 212 140
Come children, join to sing 162
E Come Spirit blest, our hearts inspire 425 331
G Fairest Lord Jesus 203 131
From all who dwell below the skies 72 42
O Glorious things of you are spoken 446 374
O God you are clothed with light 193 423
E God your glory we have seen in your Son 461 395
O Guide me, O thou great Redeemer 569 478
hc Here we adore you, hidden Saviour, Lord 500 421
E How brightly beams the Morning Star 220
G How good, Lord, to be here 234 390
E I know that my Redeemer lives 376 299
O I to the hills will lift my eyes 76 21
E I want to walk as a child of the light 643
G Jesus these eyes have never seen 508
G Jesus these eyes have never seen 508
E/G Lord Jesus our bright Morning Star 199
O Lord you are the light of life to me 261
Ps Praise to the Lord the Almighty 111 28
O The God of Abraham praise 125 53
E The heavens declare your glory, Lord 330
E The heavens shall declare the glory of his name 746
G The Son of God proclaim 528 84
Ps The voice of God goes out to all the world 282 86
E We limit not the truth of God 453 235
Ps Why this tumult among nations 209

Other Possible Hymns
(Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia. TIS = Together in Song)
Te Deum (Front of the Hymn Book)
Majesty (Song book)
Sing we the king who is coming to reign (Methodist Hymn Book 1933, number 116)
Stay, Master, stay upon this heavenly hill (Methodist Hymn Book 1933, verses 1 to 3 of number 596)
99 (TIS 51) The Lord is king, with majesty en-robed (Psalm 92)
153 (TIS 220) This, this, is the God we adore
159 (TIS 224) All hail the power of Jesus' name (plus v.6 of MHB 91)
172 (TIS 230) It passeth knowledge, that dear love of thine
250 (TIS 333) All glory, praise and honour
480 (TIS 571) Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go

Sermon summary (see complete sermon)

Myth and reality

Did it really happen, or was it just a made up story? Does it matter whether it is literally true? For example, the ancient Greek myth of Icarus -- a fable -- it tells us something that is true: that is, that if you are too ambitious you might run the risk of falling. Or aboriginal Dreamtime stories tell useful things about the environment. Jesus told stories, the parables, like "The Good Samaritan" or "The Prodigal Son", from which we learn important things. So stories do not have to be literally true as history to tell us something that is true.

But, there is also a danger in being too ready to say, of any story we don't like in the Bible, that you don't have to believe that literally. We live in a time of great controversy about the interpretation of scripture, when false messages are being given to disguise the truth that is in the Bible. What, then, do you make what of the story of Jesus taking Peter, James and John up on a high mountain and his being transfigured before their eyes? (Matthew 17:1-9).

In any case, that it was not an ordinary everyday experience is clear enough. Matthew reports in verse 9 that Jesus referred to their experience as a vision: (Matthew 17:9). You might imagine that worries about whether something like this really happened is a modern concern. But it is not new. Even before the New Testament period was over, when the later books were still being written, questions were being asked. It was when the new churches were struggling with controversies within and attacks from outside, that the Second Letter of Peter was written. Believers were told by people who knew the tradition about Jesus from the apostles not to be misled by fanciful myths (Gnosticism), but to trust the witness of the apostles: (2 Peter 1:16-18). They testified to what they saw and heard (see e.g. 1 John 1:1-4).

Whatever interpretation people give, the Transfiguration was accepted by the disciples as evidence of the majesty and glory of Jesus, whom they had just recognized as the Messiah (that is, the Christ). Peter had confessed his belief in him just about week earlier. Then, just as Jesus began to teach them, as soon as Peter had made his confession of faith, that he must go to Jerusalem and die, so we now prepare after this glimpse of his glory to follow him during Lent to the time of his suffering.

There are important implications for us. We too are beset with disbelief about the unique power and glory of Jesus Christ, and we live amongst people who are very willing indeed to entertain all sorts of myths. There has been a revival of Gnosticism in the New Age movement.(2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Yet, the language of myth and mystery was used by the apostles to proclaim the gospel. (Romans 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Ephesians 3:3-6; Colossians 1:26-27). While the depth of the mystery was something for the mature in the faith, (1 Corinthians 2:6), it was, essentially, however, for Paul, not a secret to be kept, but a revelation of truth to be shared: (Colossians 2:2-4). You could say that, while believing the gospel is essentially simple, as the faith of a child is simple, there is still enough depth of mystery in the faith we have received to keep the greatest of minds in awe and to satisfy even the deepest most searching enquires.

There is another aspect to this, when we talk about discerning the truth, distinguishing the truth from fantasy, knowing the difference between reality and myth. It is the postmodern dilemma:- Is there the same truth for everyone, or is your truth different from my truth? The letter of Peter seems to say, No, you cannot have it according to your own preference, but rather in what is given to you (2 Peter 1:20-21), but remember that the authority of Jesus which the apostles said had been declared to them by God, was an authority that he worked out in his own life as a suffering servant. (Mark 8:29-31). He was revealed as an authority (Matthew 17:5), but he was not authoritarian. He was not going to impose himself as king in a way that worldly authorities would understand (Mark 15:2; John 18:33-38). He is to be listened to, but he leaves people free to accept him or to choose the myths of human imagination, while with the eyes of faith, trusting the witness of the apostles, we can see the reality of God in him.

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Order of Service - Transfiguration (Last Sunday after Epiphany) - Year A

The Gathering of the People of God

The LORD is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!
Extol the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool. Holy is he! (Psalm 99:1, 3, 5)
You, Christ, are the king of Glory
the eternal Son of the Father
Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring your saints to glory everlasting. (From the Te Deum)

HYMN All glory, praise and honour TIS 333 AHB 250

Let us acknowledge the greatness and majesty of God as we offer our humble adoration:
Blessed are you, almighty Father, sovereign ruler of all creation:
we glorify and adore you.
Blessed are you, Lord Jesus Christ, loving Saviour of the world:
we glorify and adore you.
Blessed are you, eternal Spirit, gracious source of light and life:
we glorify and adore you.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Lord of endless power and might,
we praise your name for ever and ever.

CONFESSION [In three parts, concluding ...]
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. -- 1 Timothy 1:15
Hear then Christ's word of grace to us: Your sins are forgiven.
Thanks be to God.

DOXOLOGY: Gloria in Excelsis [Sing Alleluia 100b

Service of the Word

INTRODUCTION OF THEME: A glimpse of the majesty and glory of God in Jesus Christ, truly witnessed.
FIRST READING Exodus 24:12-18 Moses on the mountain
PSALM 99 He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud
EPISTLE 2 Peter 1:16-21 We had been eye witnesses of his majesty
GOSPEL Matthew 17:1-9 The Transfiguration

Song Majesty

HYMN How good, Lord, to be here TIS 234 AHB 390


SHARING TIME [Notices, Celebrations and requests for intercessions]
For the grace of beauty of the authority exercised by our Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you, God our Father. May the truth of his teaching and the gentleness of his guidance be seen in the world around us. Lord, hear us.
Lord hear our prayer.
Let the rulers of the this world acknowledge in the care of all people, especially of the poor and the weak, the ultimate power that belongs to him who is both glorious king and suffering servant, and that in the end he will be our judge. Lord, hear us.
Lord hear our prayer.
Guard and guide the leaders of the church, that they too may to faithful to your leadership, Lord in Christ. May they carry faithfully the witness to Christ handed on to us by the apostles and be saved from conformity to the myths and enthusiasms of this present time. Lord, hear us.
Lord hear our prayer.
[Prayers for particular people and situations]

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God. for ever and ever.

The Lord's Supper

HYMN Christ, whose glory fills the skies TIS 212 AHB 140

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Thanks and praise ..... in the eternal hymn: [SA 100c and 100d]
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
We thank you ....
[The great prayer of thanksgiving continues, recalling God's goodness in caring for his people, the life and saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, how he commanded his disciples to remember him with the bread and the wine, and we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit on us and what we do.]

THE LORD'S PRAYER [Front of hymn book]
THE LAMB OF GOD [Sing Alleluia 100e]
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world,
grant us peace.


The Sending Forth of the People of God

HYMN Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go TIS 571 480
Remember the other maintain top experience of the disciples at the end, when he said to them:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20.)
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord:
In the name of Christ. Amen.

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