Transfigurazione. Painting by Il Pordonone di Milano,
1515-1516. Public Domain.
See the texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.)
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Para obtener más recursos leccionario, Estudios Exegético: Homiléticos.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé
Lecionário comum revisado (português)
2 Kings 2:1-12.
A story of discipleship and transition of leadership. Elisha dutifully stays with and follows his master, Elijah, knowing that Elijah is about to die. He seeks one final blessing from his master — a double portion of his spirit. A chariot of fire receives Elijah into the sky.
Psalm 50:1-6 (UMH 783).
God calls the covenant people to assemble for judgment and redemption.
2 Corinthians 4:3-6.
Paul reminds the Christians at Corinth that his message was never about its eloquent delivery, but always about "Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake." Just as the "god of this world" blinds those who do not receive the gospel, the true God of all opens the eyes of those who do.
Six days after explaining he would be executed in Jerusalem, Jesus leads three of his disciples up a mountain where "he was transfigured before them." These disciples saw Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah and did not know how to respond. A voice from the cloud instructed them to listen to Jesus.
Today is the last Sunday after Epiphany, celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday. Today and all the readings correspond to each other, centered around the gospel account of Jesus being transfigured in the sight of three of his disciples.
This Sunday is the transition, par excellence, between the Season after Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. Whichever of the two series you chose for the “meat” of this season (OT/Gospel or Epistle) your task as worship planners today is to weave insights from that series, the story for today, and the purposes of the season of Lent about to begin so that today functions as the “bridge” it is intended to be.
While you would not want to distract from the purposes of this service, you can certainly include in this Sunday nearest Valentine’s Day (yesterday, February 14) resources that bless couples. Consider a service of reaffirmation of marriage vows (BOW 135 ff) as one of the possible responses to the Word this morning. Consider also a blessing for engaged couples (BOW 537) or modifying it slightly to create a blessing for couples, generally.
Ash Wednesday is this coming Wednesday, February 18. For a more contemporary celebration of Ash Wednesday, click here. For a raft of other resources for Ash Wednesday, see our Ash Wednesday and Lent collection.And see "Planning Lent and Easter Season for Worship and Discipleship" for guides for planning the two seasons to come.
All Month: Women's History Month
March 6 World Day of Prayer
March 8 Daylight Saving Time Begins 2 a.m. (USA)
March 15 One Great Hour of Sharing (Special Sunday with Offering)
March 29 Palm/Passion Sunday/Holy Week Begins
The season ends as it began, with a revelation of Jesus Christ and a voice from the sky.
On Baptism of the Lord Sunday, the revelation was to John and perhaps to onlookers. The sky split open, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and a voice declared “This is my beloved son. In him I am well pleased.”
Today, on Transfiguration of the Lord Sunday, the revelation was to three disciples who accompanied Jesus to the top of a mountain. There, Jesus becomes dazzlingly bright, Moses and Elijah appear for a time, and a voice from a cloud declares, “This is my son, the beloved. Listen to him.”
Through the intervening four weeks, we have seen what it was about Jesus and his body, the church, that pleases God. We have also been invited to join him in calling disciples and engaging in ministries of deliverance, prophecy, healing, and evangelism.
Starting this coming Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, we enter the season of Lent, where our chief task is to walk alongside others and learn to listen deeply to Jesus.
For the past four weeks, we have primarily seen Jesus in action and have sought to learn from his deeds what we are to be as his disciples.
For the next six weeks, we will be hearing Jesus teach and seeking to take his words into our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Today marks the bright line between where we have been and where we are going from here.
Today, we are invited to make the transition from observing to deep listening.
And so today’s readings offer dazzling sights all around. Elijah is taken up in a chariot of fire as his faithful disciple, Elijah, watches. The psalm is filled with powerful images of earth shaking, storms raging, and fires consuming all. Paul reminds the people in Corinth what he had declared to them all along: “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” And we see Jesus transfigured, with clothes becoming more brilliantly bright than anyone one earth could have made them. Glory after glory we see. All we have seen in these past weeks of Jesus and his ministry and all we have seen of the body of Christ and what it looks like when it functions well, all of this is such glory.
But the pinnacle of this glory, today, and for the season to come, is no longer to see, but to listen.
Listen to the one who, six days earlier, had reminded these very disciples that his mission would inevitably lead him to execution in Jerusalem, and in three days, resurrection.
Listen to the one who tells them, just after this powerful encounter on the mountain, to tell no one what they saw until after the resurrection.
And so we enter Lent, preparing ourselves to do just that. We will listen to Jesus. We will listen for the voice of the Spirit in one another as we walk these weeks until the celebration of the Resurrection. We may say very little. But we will listen.
This is the shape of worship this day. Begin it with glory. Sing powerfully. Celebrate lavishly. Then move toward a listening silence in prayer and an attentive celebration at the Lord’s Table that honors the Transfigured One whose death, rising, and return transfigure all things.
You have seen his glory. Now go forth to listen for his teaching.
In Your Planning Team
The notes above offer guidance for making the transition from After Epiphany to Lent in words and song. Part of the work of your planning team for this Sunday is to discover ways you can help make that transition from glory to simplicity, from seeing to listening in non-verbal ways. How you handle lighting might be part of this. You might start with the congregation dark and the “stage” or chancel ablaze. You might segue the light throughout the service to conclude with just natural light everywhere. Similarly with instrumentation and singing, you might move from all stops out on the organ or a full “band blast” to simple piano or acoustic guitar accompaniment, or even a capella singing at the end.
Remember the other significant shift you make today: You move from a season of invitation to a season of preparation. The invited are now with you. Starting this Wednesday, you make a journey with them that will prepare them for the transformation of their lives in Jesus Christ. Part of the sending movement of this service might involve this year’s “pilgrims” processing with the clergy and choir to be greeted by the congregation as you go as a pledge to walk with them through these forty days of Lent that lie ahead toward baptism, confirmation, reaffirmation, or reconciliation and return to the community of the faithful.
Choral or sung call to worship: UMBOW
- UMBOW, 205, "Shine on Me" (2 Kings, Mark)
- UMBOW, 216, "Arise, Shine" (2 Kings, Mark)
- UMBOW, 306 (2 Corinthians)
- UMBOW, 318 (2 Kings, Mark)
Canticle: United Methodist Hymnal, 652, "Canticle of Remembrance" (2 Kings)
- UMBOW, 308 (1st item, Mark)
- UMBOW, 310 (3rd item, Mark)
- United Methodist Hymnal, 259, "Transfiguration" (1 Corinthians, Mark)
- Worship&Song, 13
Concerns and Prayers:
- Call to Prayer: United Methodist Hymnal, 168 (stanza 1), "At the Name of Jesus" (Mark)
- United Methodist Hymnal, 489, "For God's Gifts" (2 Corinthians)
- UMBOW, 319 (Mark)
- UMBOW, 500, "For Blessing, Mercy, and Courage" (2 Kings, Mark)
- UMBOW, 525, "For Wisdom" (2 Corinthians)
- UMBOW, 529, "A Prayer of Saint Patrick" (Mark)
- Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta
Confession and Pardon:
- UMBOW, 478 (Mark)
- UMBOW, 476 (2 Corinthians), Words of Assurance
The Great Thanksgiving:
Prayer of Thanksgiving if there is no Communion: UMBOW, 556 (Transfiguration).
Dismissal with Blessing:
- A deacon or assisting minister/lay person could dismiss the people using UMBOW 559. The pastor could then speak the blessing, using UMBOW 561 (second item) or The United Methodist Hymnal, 669.
- UMBOW, 560 (Transfiguration)
Sung response: United Methodist Hymnal, 168 (stanza 4), "At the Name of Jesus" (Mark)