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Sermon and Liturgy (2) For Transfiguration Sunday - Year B
II Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; Mark 9:2-9
"They Went Up On A High Mountain"


READING:  II Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; Mark 9:2-9
SERMON :  "They Went Up On A High Mountain"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
b-transn 714000

     Sources:  The Children's Story is from Charles Kirkpatrick
     "www.sermons4kids.com", for March 2nd 2003, by permission.  The
     sermon is very much based on Bass Mitchell, "Sometimes You Have
     To Climb A Mountain", Hot Springs VA, as sent to the PRCL List in
     February,1997.  Bass Mitchell's current website is at
     "www.homiliesbyemail.com/" and includes many free resources as
     well as those that are subscription based.  The Call to Worship
     is based on one by John Maynard (maynard@sympac.com.au) "Prayers
     and Litanies for Transfiguration Sunday, Year B" as sent to the
     PRCL List, in February  2003 


GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L    Good Morning 
P    Good Morning
L    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,  
     and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P    And also with you.
L    God reigns!  Let the peoples tremble!
P    God is enthroned upon the cherubim!  Let the earth shake!
L    God comes to visit his people.  Let all prepare to meet Him.
P    We will extol you, O God, and worship at your holy mountain;
     For you our God are holy!     


* PRAYER OF APPROACH
God of holiness and of mercy, God of thunder and of the still small voice
within, we worship and adore you.  We thank you for all that you have done
and are doing for us and for the world you made.  We confess that we are
unworthy of these things - that we have sinned against you and against our 
brothers and sisters and even against our very selves - against the person
whom you created us to be.  Forgive us as we come before you now in the
silence of our hearts... forgive us and shine forth upon us today... 
Bestow upon us, we pray, O God, this day a double portion of your Spirit
that we may do your will and help us to hear your word and to see the
marvels you are performing- we ask it in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ
our Lord.  Amen.


* HYMN:  "Worship The Lord"                                        - VU 401


CHILDREN'S TIME: "On The Mountain Top"
Theme:    Mountain top experiences prepare us for the valleys of every day
life.     
Object    Some beautiful pictures of mountains
Source    Charles Kirkpatrick "www.sermons4kids.com", March 2nd 2003, by
          permission. 

     After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led
     them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was
     transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white,
     whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there
     appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with
     Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here.
     Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one
     for Elijah."  (Mark 9:2-9)

I have some beautiful pictures to show you this morning.  They are pictures
taken of some of the most beautiful mountain peaks you can imagine. Have
you ever taken a vacation in the mountains? Of all the vacations that I
have ever taken, the ones that I enjoyed the most were the ones that I took
in the mountains.

Why do you think people enjoy vacationing in the mountains?  One reason I
enjoy the mountains is that I want to get away from the heat we so often
have in West Texas.  In the summer months, the heat can become almost
unbearable at times and it feels good to get up into the cool mountain air.

Another reason I enjoy vacationing in the mountains is for the beautiful
view.  When you are down in the valley, it is often difficult to see and
appreciate the beauty around you, but from the mountain top, you can
clearly see all of the beauty of the world below.

One more reason that I enjoy vacationing in the mountains is to get away
from hustle and bustle of everyday life.  It is good to get away from the
pressure of work and busy schedules, and just sit back and relax.

Did you know that even Jesus enjoyed getting away for a mountain retreat? 
The Bible tells us that one day Jesus took Peter, James and John high up
into the mountains so that they could be alone.  While on the mountain top,
Jesus' appearance was changed and his clothes became a dazzling white. Then
the disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus.  Peter became so
excited that he told Jesus that he thought they should just stay up on the
mountain.

Did Jesus and the disciples stay up on the mountain?  No, Jesus knew
that the purpose of their experience on the mountain top was to renew their
strength for the difficult days that were ahead of them, so he led the
disciples back down into the valley.

You and I sometimes need a vacation in the mountains to help us cope with
the heat and stress of our every day life.  We also need mountain top
experiences in our daily walk with Jesus.  We need those experiences to
renew our strength for the difficult tasks that we face as we follow Jesus
each day.


PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER 
     Dear Jesus - Loving God - giver of the special moments and the
     ordinary days - we are thankful - for the wonderful mountain top
     experiences - you give us to renew our strength - for our daily
     walk with you.  Amen

     Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be 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; and lead us not into
     temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom,
     the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


* HYMN:  "I Am The Light Of The World"                              - VU 87


TIME FOR SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS: ANNOUNCEMENTS
- Welcome and Announcements     
- Birthdays and Anniversaries      
- Special Matters      
- Sharing Joys and Concerns


TIME OF SILENCE & AN INTROIT FOR THE WORD  (verse 2 - VU 371)
  Open my ears that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear
  and while 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!


A READING FROM II KINGS 2:1-12:
     (NIV)  When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a
     whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.  Elijah
     said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." 

     But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will
     not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. 

     The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked,
     "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you
     today?" 

     "Yes, I know," Elisha replied, "but do not speak of it." 

     Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to
     Jericho." 

     And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will
     not leave you." So they went to Jericho. 

     The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked
     him, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you
     today?" 
     
     "Yes, I know," he replied, "but do not speak of it." 

     Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the
     Jordan." 

     And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will
     not leave you."  So the two of them walked on.  Fifty men of the
     company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place
     where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan.  Elijah took his
     cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to
     the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry
     ground.  

     When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do
     for you before I am taken from you?" 

     "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied. 

     "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me
     when I am taken from you, it will be yours - otherwise not." 

     As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of
     fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and
     Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha saw this and cried
     out, "My father! My father!  The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" 

     And Elisha saw him no more.  Then he took hold of his own clothes and
     tore them apart.

L    This is the Word of The Lord. 
P    Thanks be to God.
     

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 50 (Voices United 775) & Gloria Patri (sung)

     Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  
     As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  
     World without end.  Amen


A READING FROM MARK 9:2-9:
     (NIV)  After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and
     led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone.  There he was
     transfigured before them.  His clothes became dazzling white, whiter
     than anyone in the world could bleach them.  And there appeared before
     them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

     Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put
     up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah."
     (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

     Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the
     cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" 

     Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them
     except Jesus.  As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them
     orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had
     risen from the dead.

L    This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord.
P    Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
     

* HYMN:  "We Have Come at Christ's Own Bidding"                    - VU 104


SERMON:  "They Went Up On A High Mountain"

          Note that this sermon is heavily based on one by Bass
          Mitchell, "Sometimes You Have To Climb A Mountain", Hot
          Springs VA Feb 3 1997 as sent to the PRCL List in 1997.
          Bass Mitchell's current website is at
          http://www.homiliesbyemail.com/ and includes many free
          resources as well those that are subscription based.
     
     Bless O God the words of my lips and the meditations of our
     hearts, and when we go from this place - help us to continue to
     hear and to see, and to do and be - all that you would have us
     hear and see and do and be.  We ask it in the name of the blessed
     one - Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen


STRANGE PASSAGE - HARD FOR SOME TO RELATE TO
     - Clouds and darkness - overwhelming light - visitors from past -
     voices speaking about  listening 

SOME REACT TO THIS PASSAGE BY DISMISSAL OR THEOLOGIZING IT
     - such experiences are unique - only for Jesus - for the three
     disciples - not even all of them - and that these  kind of experiences
     are only to be found in the bible - that no one is meant to have them
     today.

     - that it has special meaning - for Jesus - to strengthen him and for
     disciples to know that Jesus is indeed the one spoken of by the
     scriptures - the Messiah, the Chosen One, the Son of the Living God

     - And there is some good points to this - we should know who Jesus is
     and listen to him - and  yes, Jesus was strengthened by his
     experience.

OTHERS REACT BY ACCEPTING THE EXPERIENCES AS VALID - AS TRUE - BUT...
     - talk about need to return to the valley - the need to listen to
     Jesus and go down and work in the world. 

     - they fear that people will be like the three disciples - Peter,
     Andrew and John - and want to remain on the mountain - to seek these
     special moments and thereby neglect what they should be about.   They
     are the folk who are likely to quote the old saw  - "Some people are
     so heavenly minded - they are no earthly good"

     - And there is much good in this view as well, but I suspect that folk
     who stress the importance of the valleys - of the place where we live
     - often have not experienced a true spiritual mountain top - for if
     they had - they would most surely talk about it more.....

BUT STILL OTHERS - WONDER ABOUT THE MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE ITSELF
     - they know and accept that Jesus is Lord - that we should listen to
     him

     - they believe that the action is in the valley - that there is where
     we are supposed to live

     - BUT THEY WONDER -- they wonder why history records people having
     these kinds of experiences - these kind of moments - and why they seem
     so rare - and they wonder perhaps most of all - why they themselves
     have had so few of these kinds of moments - these AWESOME moments in
     their lives.  And they long for something to make it real.


IT IS TO THESE PEOPLE MOST ESPECIALLY I SPEAK TODAY 
 
Sometimes you have to climb a mountain... to have a mountain top
experience.

I find it interesting that so many important events in the Bible happened
on mountains...

     Moses sees a burning bush and receives the law...
     Abraham is called to offer his son on Mt. Moriah
     The Temple is built on Mt. Zion...
     The sermon on the mount is preached - on a mountain...
     Jesus is transfigured on the mountain...
     God's son offers his life on Mt. Calvary...

Sometimes you have to climb a mountain to have a mountain top experience - 
     - to know in your hearts and your minds and in the very nerve endings
     of your hands and feet that God is doing something - right now - right
     here - before your eyes - and in your ears.

Sometimes you have to climb a mountain so you can see things in a different
     way, from a little different perspective... as the theologians and the
     sceptics about mountain top experiences say that  the mountain top
     experience of Jesus was meant to do:

Indeed sometimes you have to climb a mountain to bring things into focus.

HAVE YOU EVER DRIVEN IN AN AREA WITH POOR RADIO RECEPTION AND THEN STARTED
UP A MOUNTAIN WITH THAT RADIO STILL ON --- 

     Before going up, the station you want is fading out, but you just
     didn't want to change channels...And then you start up the
     mountain -- and as you climb the signal starts getting ever so
     clearer the higher you climb...the static fades...those oldies
     but goldies coming in stronger and stronger until you reach the
     peak and it is crystal clear...

Sometimes you have to climb a mountain to get above, away from all the
static so the signals can come in clearer...  Sometimes you have to climb a
mountain to have what we call a mountain top experience.

     - Maybe this is what happened to the three disciples with Jesus, for
     the signal came in loud and clear that day...that voice from the
     cloud...*This is my beloved Son. Listen to him* - 

To me, when Lent's here, I am reminded to climb a mountain so I can listen
better, get a clearer vision of Christ and who I am called to be...
     - And even then - even then you must hope and pray that you will -
     when you have struggled to the top of the mountain - that the
     conditions will be right - and that your heart will be right, and that
     you will in fact have that experience you seek and desire.  And not
     every time are the conditions right.   

But still - all in all -sometimes you have to climb a mountain...to get
away from the clutter and static...  AND IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A LARGE
MOUNTAIN, OR EVEN A MOUNTAIN AT ALL...

     - for me it is often in the midst of a worship service when some
     joyous hymn lifts me above the distractions and I get a glimpse of the
     One who I am worshipping

     ...sometimes it's on a walk -seeing the leaves dripping with color as
     if freshly painted...

     ...last Thursday it was when a group of us deliberately set aside a
     time to pray for a person and to anoint them with oil for healing -
     and we prayed - and anointed - and prayed some more - and when we were
     done - we knew that God had been with us -- that power was in the room
     - as one person said afterward "it was like you could move it with
     your hands - an energy was there" - and there were tears of joy and of
     relief and of fear and of awe released -- and later - the next day -
     we heard that God had already answered a great part of our prayer!

THE MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES ARE NOT SOMETHING FOR EVERY DAY -

     everyone is right who says we are called to live and work in the
     valleys - where the rest of our brothers and sisters are - those folk
     who need us - and whom we need - if they and we are to be whole and
     complete.

BUT WE ALL DO NEED SOME ENCOURAGEMENT - some strengthening - some
experience of the Holy -some experience of the power of God - and of the
other world - the other side of reality as it were- if we are to have a
dynamic and confident faith.
 
We are called in fact to see as well as to believe
We are called to experience - as well to hope
We are called to know - as well as to have faith

And there is nothing like the mountaintops to bring all these things into
focus.  To give us knowledge as well faith, experience as well as hope,
sight as well as belief.

MOST BELIEVING FOLK DO NOT EXPERIENCE MOUNTAIN TOPS OFTEN ENOUGH
     - primarily because they don't bother to climb the mountains - they
     don't bother to do the work needed so that perhaps - just maybe - God
     will touch them in that special way.
     - or because they believe that those special experiences are the kind
     of gift that just drops out of the blue upon a person - like the
     dreams we have of a long lost one appearing to us and comforting us -
     or like the visions some folk have of something that has just happened
     - in another place - where they have no contact or reason to believe
     that thing has happened.

BUT LET ME REPEAT - SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN TO HAVE A
MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCE:

     - as did Jesus and Peter and James and John - who struggled up a long
     slope in the hot sun  one day to end up experiencing what they
     experienced

     - as did the group of us the other night - who rearranged schedules -
     and spent - most of them anyway - many days struggling with the worry
     and pain they had for the person we prayed for -- and who - most of
     them - have spent many days, indeed weeks, years, even decades,
     studying God's word and praying each and every day.

     - as does the person who sets aside the time to go for a walk among
     the trees in the autumn, or exercises the discipline of coming to
     church each and every week - so that in fact they may not only worship
     God and learn more about God and support their fellow believers with
     their presence - but so that they might also - by God's good pleasure
     - experience some special moments of the Holy.

IN CONCLUSION - 
I am always struck by Paul's comment about the "god of this world" blinding
people to the reality of the Gospel.  And I can feel my own rising
frustration at always having to represent and speak for a God who, in the
eyes of so many, seemingly does nothing. 

Frustration because I know that my God does much - and I have felt and
heard his presence - by myself - and in the presence of others -- and I
know that those who seek, do find; and that those who knock, do find the
door opened to them.

I know the mountains and the valleys - and the importance of each - and I
know that to have the strength and the vision one needs in the valley -
that one needs to climb the mountains - to do their part - so that when
they arrive - they may - God willing - as God so often is - have the
mountain top experience - the mountain vision - that they need.


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE  (Singing #400 at the start of the prayer time.  Our
  prayer response to "Lord, hear our Prayer" is "And in Your Love Answer")
               
          Lord, listen to your children praying,
          Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
          Lord, listen to your children praying,
          send us love, send us power, send us grace!

Lord - we often find ourselves weary, tired out by a load of care, a heap
of responsibility and concern.  We hunger and thirst, and often fail to
stop to eat and drink at the table you have prepared for us.  Lord, we are
here now - and we ask you - refresh and make us new... Lord hear our
prayer...

We pray today, Lord, for those around us who have special needs of the
spirit, for those whose souls are full of pain and grief; for those who
feel tired and do not know why; for those who have anger and do not feel
free;.......  grant to them and to all for whom we pray, a vision, a word
or a sign which they may specially treasure.  Fill them and us with your
Spirit that we may see beyond our duties and obligations; touch us so that
we may enter into your sacred realm for a moment of strengthening and
encouragement.  And granting this, make us more faithful than before in our
service to you......  Lord hear our prayer..... 

We pray, O Lord, for the people and the issues that you have placed upon
our hearts today and this  past week..  Hear now our prayers for those whom
we name before you.... (Bidding Prayer)
....  Lord, hear our prayer....

We ask these things  through Jesus, he who lives and reigns with you and
the Holy  Spirit, One God, now and forever.  Amen.


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS: As the Offering is presented all stand for the
Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow - VU 541) and Prayer of
Dedication

     Lord, as Elijah used his gifts to part the waters and to proclaim
     your message - and as Jesus used his gifts to heal others and
     redeem all people, so we pray you would use our gifts this day,
     both those on these plates, and those within our hearts and minds
     - to continue your work in this world.  We ask it in Jesus' name. 
     Amen


* COMMUNION HYMN:  "Let Us Break Bread Together"                   - VU 480


EUCHARISTIC LITANY:
L    The peace of the Lord be with you.
P    And also with you.
L    Lift up your hearts.
P    We lift them up to the Lord.
L    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
P    It is right to give God thanks and praise.


  EUCHARISTIC PRAYER AND WORDS OF INSTITUTION
We give you thanks and praise, O God, through your beloved Son, Jesus
Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer.  He is your living Word, through whom you
have created all things.  By the power of the Holy Spirit he took flesh of
the Virgin Mary and shared our human nature.  He lived and died as one of
us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

Lord, you know how we have turned from you - yet you have not turned from
us.  We thank you.  Help us to remember always the cost of your love and
how in Christ it triumphed over sin and death.  Help us to proclaim the
word that all may know from whence salvation comes.

Indeed, O Lord, accept our humble praise and thanksgiving for all you have
done through Jesus - who on the night he was handed over to suffering and
death - took bread, and gave you thanks, saying "take and eat, this is my
body broken for you".... and who in the same took the cup, saying "This is
my blood, shed for you -- when you do this, do it in memory of me."

     
PROCLAMATION OF FAITH AND BLESSING OF THE ELEMENTS
L    Eternal God, King of heaven and earth: the life and death of thy Son
     our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we proclaim; his resurrection from
     the dead and his ascension we confess; his coming in triumph we await.
P    Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, come.
L    Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith:
P    Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
L    Loving God, we pray thee to send thy Holy Spirit upon us and what we
     do here that we, and these gifts, touched by your Spirit, may be signs
     of life and love.  Give us the mind of Christ and help us follow his
     example as we await his return in glory.  We ask it in his name.  Amen


- THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE ELEMENTS:   (Please come forward by the centre
     aisle, receive the bread from the first server and dip it into the cup
     held by the second server.  A traditional response to the words: "the
     body/blood of Christ broken/poured out for you" is "and also for you"
     or "Amen".  Please return to your seats by the side aisle.)


DEPARTING PRAYER
L    Let us pray....  We give you thanks, almighty God, that you have
     refreshed us at this table.  
P    Strengthen our faith, 
     increase our love for one another,  
     and send us forth united in courage and peace
     and rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
L    We ask this until Christ our Saviour comes again 
     in power and might to judge the world.  


* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"              - VU 333


* COMMISSIONING:  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth into the
     world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of Christ.


* BENEDICTION AND THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace - love and care for one another in the name of Christ;
- and may the Spirit of the Lord strengthen you and reveal unto you the
glory of God of the Father, 
- may the faithful love and mercy of Christ Jesus fill your hearts 
- and overflow into all that you say and do
both now and forevermore


* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                              - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2000 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



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