Listen to Him

Transfiguration Sunday

Transfiguration Sunday, Year A

So why Transfiguration Sunday? Why let it be significant enough to stand alone? This has not been a significant event in the life of most churches. Plus, in our attempt to connect with the wider community, it seems like a hard sell to those unfamiliar with church talk. So why bother? Because we need it.

This stand-alone service follows our after-Epiphany series, “Somos del Señor.” In Matthew’s Gospel, God says of Jesus at his baptism (see January 12), “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). Here on Transfiguration Sunday, God announces from the cloud, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” (Matt 17:5) Is there a note of exasperation that arose in the intervening fourteen chapters? Possibly not, but the “listen to him” does seem to jump out. This event has puzzled Christians for centuries, and there isn’t really a need to explain transfiguration in the sermon. Sometimes the best response is simply to stand in awe.

Planning Notes

Transfiguration Sunday
Seventh Sunday After the Epiphany

(February 23, 2020)

Liturgical Color: White/Gold

Primary Symbols and Images: Mountains, Radiant Light, Dazzling white garments (robes, paraments, etc.), Moses and Elijah, the Cloud/shekinah,

A Sacrament of Silence

Transfiguration Sunday

It has been said that “To listen to God in worship is greater than to hear any man/woman preach.” It is interesting to observe the level of restlessness in worship when the congregation is asked to “join in a moment of silence.” Even a modicum of silence, a pregnant pause tends to suck all the air from the room. These moments in worship call to mind the Habakkuk 2:20 passage, “the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” While this call to the sacrament of silence probably served a different purpose for Israel, the manifest presence of an All-Knowing, All- Seeing, Ever-Present God ought to inspire a sense of awe, reverence, and honor for God. Our corporate worship often rushes to fill the spaces that rightfully belong to God.

Pastors and worship leaders can create a time of attentiveness to what the Spirit is saying to the church by calling attention to appropriate scriptural passages and the advantages of corporate listening. The silence of our souls can hush the external and internal noise, allowing the voice of God to be heard in every heart. “This is my Son, the Beloved . . . listen to him!” (Matt. 17:5)

You are encouraged to experience the story and glory of the Transfiguration through the practice of lectio divina, a monastic practice of reading scripture, not to be studied, but as the living word; the word made flesh. There are typically four steps involved in this ancient-modern practice: read, meditate/reflect (on the meaning), pray (mental/silent), contemplate (engage the thoughts, imagination, emotions, desires).

How might your congregation be drawn closer together and closer to God in worship through the sacrament of silence? The first two verses of this hymn might give us a clue.

  1. Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me,
    Place in my hands the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free.
    Silently now, I wait for Thee, ready my God thy will to see,
    Open my eyes, illumine me Spirit Divine!
  2. Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
    And as the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
    Silently now, I wait for Thee, ready my God thy will to see,
    Open my ears, illumine me Spirit Divine!

From the hymn, “Open My Eyes, That I May See,” Clara H. Scott (1841-1867) The United Methodist Hymnal, 454