Transfiguration of the Lord 2018 — Planning Notes

God is Speaking! — Transfiguration  |  RISE UP! 

Reading Notes

NRSV texts, artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers for this service are available at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.
Leccionario en Español, Leccionario Común Revisado: Consulta Sobre Textos Comunes.
Lectionnaire en français, Le Lectionnaire Œcuménique Révisé

Calendar Notes

Colors today (Transfiguration) are white and gold.
Beginning Ash Wednesday (February 14), the color is purple.    

All Month       Black History Month
February 11   Transfiguration of the Lord
                        Scouting Sunday
February 14   Ash Wednesday
                        Lent Series Begins (forthcoming)
February 19   Presidents Day

March 2         World Day of Prayer
March 11       UMCOR Sunday
                       Daylight Saving Time Change Song (Spring) (USA)
March 25      Passion/Palm Sunday
                      Holy Week Series Begins
March 29      Maundy/Holy Thursday
March 30      Good Friday
March 31      Holy Saturday (until Sundown)
                      Easter Eve/Easter Vigil (after Sundown)

April 1           
Easter Day
                      Easter Series Begins
April 15        
Native American Ministries Sunday
April 22         Festival of God’s Creation
April 25         World Malaria Day

All Month       Christian Home Month (2018 Theme: Families Called to Peace, forthcoming)
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
May 3              National Day of Prayer
May 4              May Friendship Day (UMW/CWU)
May 7-13        
Christian Family Week (2018 resources forthcoming)
May 10            
Ascension Day
May 13            Ascension Sunday
                        Festival of the Christian Home/Mother’s Day (USA)
May 19-20      
Change the World Weekend
May 20           Day of Pentecost
                       Heritage Sunday (forthcoming)
May 24           
Aldersgate Day
May 27           Trinity Sunday
                       Peace with Justice Sunday
May 28           Memorial Day (USA)

Pray for annual conferences convening throughout the month, for all receiving new appointments or assignments, for those leaving existing appointments or assignments, and for congregations and other ministries receiving new leadership. 

For your Planning Team

The series wrap is always summary and segue. Today’s service order can help you do both.

We’ve been on a journey this Season after Epiphany of “getting ready to get ready.” We’ve been reminding ourselves of some key realities about God and ourselves and some key practices we need to undertake so that we can take the next major step — the Lenten journey of Christians realigning ourselves with the way of Christ and accompanying seekers on the journey to learn how to follow in his way as preparation for baptism at Easter.

Today’s two focus texts, the stories of the transfiguration of Jesus and the death of Elijah, witnessed and accompanied by Elisha, point us both to where we’ve been and where we need to go next. The season after Epiphany is “bookended” by a voice from heaven declaring Jesus God’s beloved Son. But this time, we hear more: the call to listen to him, which means to follow where he leads. Though we do not read the story that immediately follows in Mark (and the other synoptics) this week, we know what comes next. Jesus takes his disciples from the mountain into the valley, where they find themselves woefully unprepared to undertake the mass of suffering that lay before them. Here Jesus is quite clear what they must do to get ready. They need to go on a “rehab” plan focusing on prayer and fasting. And this is just what the Lenten journey, which begins this week, specializes in!

Though we don’t hear the next piece in the Jesus story, we do see something quite similar in the Elijah and Elisha story that follows in today’s service, and provides the primary basis for today’s sermon and sermon notes. Elisha has been Elijah’s disciple. And now Elisha, having been on many glorious journeys with Elijah, must go on a more solemn one: the final journey of Elijah’s life and his passing into death. He does take this journey to its conclusion, and in his mentor’s death, Elisha finds both grief and life.

We who follow Jesus follow where he leads. And he most often leads into places of suffering and death, including his and potentially our own death. We’ve been learning what it is to listen, to move, to answer, and to focus in the midst of life. Now we are called to do this far more profoundly in the face of the constant suffering and death into which we are sent by Jesus as signs and witnesses of his death and life.

And for that, we need the work of Lent. This year’s theme for our Lenten series is “Rehab.” Each week of the series calls us further into a rehab experience that, we trust, will prepare us for facing Christ’s death during Holy Week and our calling as his resurrection people in the face of death for the rest of our lives. The Sending Forth in today’s service functions as the segue into the next series, which kicks off with Ash Wednesday and begins in earnest next Sunday.

In the Series to Come: Rehab

Week 1: February 18         Wilderness
Mark 1:9-15

Week 2: February 25         Intervention
Mark 8:31-38

Week 3: March 4                Program
Exodus 20:1-17

Week 4: March 11              Recovery
John 3:14-18

Week 5: March 18              Promise
Jeremiah 31:31-34


Additional Resources for this Service

2014 Planning Helps for these readings »

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle: (Click link to find countries for this week when they are posted)