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Sermon and Liturgy for Transfiguration Sunday - Year C
Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; II Corinthians 3:12 - 4:2; Luke 9:28-36
"Look And Listen"

READING:  Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; II Corinthians 3:12 - 4:2; Luke 9:28-36
SERMON :  "Look and Listen"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-transu.y-c 597919

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
   Sources - Children's Story based on one from King Duncan, "Dynamic
   Preaching, Jan/Feb/Apr 1995

GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)

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  We gather to worship the living God  
   whose glory is revealed to us in the stars and the sun.
P  We gather to worship the eternal God 
   whose power is seen in the spinning of the planets 
   and in the fathomless depths of outer space.
L  We gather to worship the loving God,
   whose righteousness is revealed in Christ Jesus, 
   who died for us that we might live.
P  We gather to worship the holy God,
   whose glory is revealed in the Risen Christ
   and imparted to us by the Spirit that makes us one.

* INTROIT:  "Holy, Holy, Holy" (verse 1)                           - VU 315

Holy and Eternal God, you know our need for you, our need for your love to
warm our hearts, for your word to guide us, for your Spirit to sustain us,
for your presence to make us whole.  Help us to wait upon you now with
penitent and believing hearts - help us to hear your word, to see your
glory, to feel your touch, and then to follow in the way the Spirit
directs us.  We ask all these things in the name of Christ Jesus our Lord. 

* HYMN  "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise"                       - VU 264

CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Pink Flamingoes"
Object - Picture of Flamingo
Theme  - Change
Source - Based on a children's story for Transfiguration from King Duncan,
       "Dynamic Preaching" - Jan/Feb/Mar 95

Good morning --  Have any of you ever seen a pink flamingo????  Aren't
these unusual looking birds??? You just don't see many bright pink, tall
birds with long necks running around this town. Did you know that
flamingos aren't pink all their lives?  When they are hatched they are an
entirely different colour.   What colour do you think they are????

When flamingos are very little, they are green.  By the time they are
three years old, flamingos turn from green to pink.  Can anyone guess

It's because of what they eat!  Flamingos eat two kinds of food, sea algae
and shrimp.  The sea algae and the shrimp cause the flamingo to change
colours, from green to pink.  Because of the kinds of food that flamingos
put into their bodies, they eventually change colours.  Isn't that a
strange way to change? 

In our Bible passage today, we learn about a really important change that
takes place in Jesus' life.  One day Jesus took a few of his disciples and
went up on a mountain.  And as Jesus was praying on the mountain, the
spirit of God came down from heaven and touched him.  Then a white,
glowing light came from him.  When the disciples saw Jesus changed in this
way, they were scared and excited.  Then God spoke from heaven - from
inside a dark cloud - and the voice said to the disciples, "This is my
son. Listen to him."  

When the disciples saw Jesus all shining white, and heard God's voice,
they knew that Jesus was the son of God.  When they came down from the
mountain with Jesus they never quite saw Jesus in the same way again. 
They knew that he was special and that God was with him - and that some
how God was in him - making him different than anybody else.  

   Dear Lord God - by your power you changed Jesus - so that he shone
   like the sun. - Change us too we pray - make us more like him -
   help us to listen to him - just as you asked his first disciples -
   help us to listen - and to do what he tells us.   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

SONG OF PRAISE: "God is So Good"
   God is so good, God is so good,
   God is so good, He's so good to me!
   He cares for me, He cares for me,
   He cares for me, He's so good to me!
   I love Him so, I love Him so,
   I love Him so, He's so good to me!

   I praise His name, I praise His name,
   I praise His name, He's so good to me!

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   (NIV)  When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of
   the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant
   because he had spoken with the LORD. {30} When Aaron and all the
   Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to
   come near him. {31} But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the
   leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. {32}
   Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the
   commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. {33} When Moses
   finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. {34} But
   whenever he entered the Lord's presence to speak with him, he removed
   the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the
   Israelites what he had been commanded, {35} they saw that his face was
   radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he
   went in to speak with the LORD.

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

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 99 (Voices United 819 and Sung Refrain)

   (NIV)  Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. {13} We
   are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the
   Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. {14}
   But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains
   when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only
   in Christ is it taken away. {15} Even to this day when Moses is read,
   a veil covers their hearts. {16} But whenever anyone turns to the
   Lord, the veil is taken away. {17} Now the Lord is the Spirit, and
   where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. {18} And we, who
   with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being
   transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes
   from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

   Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not
   lose heart. {2} Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we
   do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the
   contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to
   every man's conscience in the sight of God.

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

* HYMN:  "Open My Eyes That I May See"                             - VU 371

   (NIV)  About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and
   James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. {29} As he was
   praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as
   bright as a flash of lightning. {30} Two men, Moses and Elijah, {31}
   appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus.  They spoke about
   his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem.
   {32} Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became
   fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
   {33} As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, 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 he was saying.)
   {34} While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and
   they were afraid as they entered the cloud. {35} A voice came from the
   cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him."
   {36} When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone.  The
   disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what
   they had seen. 

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

SERMON: "Look and Listen"

   O Lord, we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
   thoughts we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.  Amen.

Today we stand as onlookers with Peter and John and James on a special
experience - a mysterious experience.

Jesus and three of his disciples had gone to a mountain to pray.  The
weary disciples at some point fall asleep - but Jesus continues in prayer,
he continues to prepare himself for the events that lie just before him,
his trip up the road to Jerusalem, his trip towards the cross that he has
told his disciples awaits him in the Holy City.

As Jesus prays something we cannot explain happens to him -
his countenance, and even the robe he is wearing, begins to glow until it
is a dazzling white.

As the disciples struggle back to consciousness they see Jesus shining,
and with him they see two men - Moses the law-giver, and Elijah the
prophet -  talking with him, and they are full of fright, full of awe,
full of joy at what they see.

Peter tries to capture the moment - "Master," he says, "It is good for us
to be here, let us make three booths for you and for Moses and Elijah -
three tents..."  but even as he says this a heavy cloud sweeps over the
mountain, obscuring his view - and the view of the other disciples - and
plunging them into fear once more.

And in this cloud - in the midst of this roiling obscurity, this damp and
forbidding darkness, Peter and James and John hear a voice; 
a voice as clear as the light that had just moments before filled the
mountain top; a voice as awesome as the thunder that shook Sinai when
Moses went to receive the Torah:

          "This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him"

And then the moment is over.  The cloud vanishes.  The sun shines.  The
birds sing.  Jesus stands alone - near to them.  The valley below where
the other disciples are waiting for them is once more visible...

The scriptures record that the disciples - that James and John and Peter -
are told by Jesus not to speak of this experience until after he has been
raised from the dead - and presumably they did not.

But the experience that they witnessed,
   the experience that they were part of,
       remained with them, 
until eventually it was recorded in three of the four gospels.

It remained with them - and it shaped them 
- and it became part of them, part of their testimony 
-part of their witness to who Christ was - to who Christ is.

In the Second Letter of Peter - Peter writes these words:

   "We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you
   the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We have been
   eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received honour and glory from
   God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic
   Glory saying, "This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well
   pleased."  We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we
   were with him on the holy mountain.  So we have the prophetic
   message more fully confirmed.  You will do well to be attentive to
   this as to a lamp shining in a dark place - until the day dawns and
   the morning star rises in your hearts."

As we come into the season of Lent,
- the season where we consider the temptations that assail us,
- the season where we contemplate the suffering that we, with Christ,
- the season where we gaze upon both the good and the evil that is in this
world -and in our own hearts,
I think that we do well to be attentive to this vision,
to this experience,
in the manner that Peter suggests.

WE do well to attend to the fact that Jesus is more than the fellow from
next door, more than a good buddy with whom we can walk and talk, more
than a good example for our children and our grandchildren to emulate.

Jesus is the Son of God - the chosen one - the one whom we are commanded
to listen to.
Jesus is the Chosen One 
- the one who is able to carry us into the presence of God
- the one who gives peace 
- the one who gives joy 
- the one who gives victory over sin and death.

Sometimes I think we forget this.

Sometimes I think we fall into our daily routines without a thought about
the divinity that surrounds us, without any real awareness of the power
that surrounds us and holds us up.  We have business to do, we have people
to see, we have kids to move from A to B to C and back again.  

And in the bustle - in the hurry - in the work that we do we loose track
of where we are going; 
   we loose track of whose we are 
       and what has been promised to those who are attentive to him.

I dare say that everyone here today takes time to talk to God
- that everyone here prays to God on a regular basis,
- that everyone here asks God for his help - if not for yourselves - then
for others.

That is good.

But how many of us here today actually listen to God?

How many of us here in our time of prayer stop talking, 
- stop reading, 
- stop thinking about what concerns us 
and simply listen,
- listen to the point where you can hear your pulse beating in your ears
and feel the air moving steadily and strongly in and out of your lungs.
- listen to the point where images began to dance on the back of your
eyelids and the spirit begins to put words upon your hearts,
   words that you do not think about -
   words that come from somewhere within you -  
words of praise and of assurance,
words of guidance and of comfort.

How many of us wait upon the Lord until he answers - until he speaks -
until he graces us with a dream or a vision - or a set of words - or an
experience wherein his will is revealed to us.

How many of us go apart for a while as did Jesus and as did his disciples
- and listen to the wind and the rain - and gaze upon the moon and the
stars - and enter into the silence that lies within these things - the
silence where the words of Christ are not only remembered - but rise fresh
and new?

A friend of mine some years ago asked the question - how many people
actually have the kind of experience or vision like that which is
described in today's gospel?  And if we do - so what?

I can't say I have had an experience like that of Jesus or the disciples.

My robe has never shone any whiter than it is today -
a voice from heaven has never come forth from a cloud in my presence.

But I know my friends from the things that I occasionally see when I stop
what I am doing and look and listen to what is happening around me deep
within me - that there is a vast and great power operating in this world 
      - an invisible power that manifests itself in startling expressions of
   love and care - and upon occasion in vivid demonstrations of beauty
   and of raw power.  It is a healing power - a sustaining power - a
   giving power - one able to bear one through the most horrible of times
   - one that weeps with me when I sorrow - and holds me when I feel
   close to despair.

This is my Son, my chosen one, listen to him...  

   Listen to him - listen to what he said to his disciples the night he was
   betrayed - "The advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send
   in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I
   have said to you.  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I
   do not give to you as the world gives.  Do let your hearts be
   troubled, and do not let them be afraid."

Are you afraid today?
Are you troubled?

Then today is a time to step aside for a while,
to find the quiet space in which you can pour out your heart to God,
to climb the mountain of transfiguration
and to fix your eyes upon the fire and the cloud of God's presence,
and to pray - and to listen.

Today is the time to allow the ordinary bread and wine of our existence to
be held up before God and transformed by his love into the body and blood
of Christ.

Today is the time to allow the liturgy and the message to be the work and
word of God in our hearts.

It is God's will that the glory that came upon Moses as he entered the
tabernacle of God's presence in the desert of Sinai be seen by all.

It is God's will that the glory that came upon Jesus as he communed with
Moses and Elijah upon the mountain, be known by all.

Each one of us is invited into the tabernacle,
   each one of us is invited to climb the mountain,
       each one of us is invited to enter the holy of holies,
          into the place where God abides
and to then carry the light that shines upon us in these places into the
world - into the place where not only we see it - but others may see it as

As Paul writes in today's epistle reading:

   "Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the
   Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is
   freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's
   glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing
   glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

There is a mystery involved in entering into the presence of God,
of turning aside and of praying and listening to what he says.

That mystery is not contained in what God says and does,
that is meant for all to hear and see,
rather it is contained in what God does to us, with us and thru us,
as we make ourselves available to him through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Listen to my Son, who I have chosen.
Listen to the one whose face not only shone - but his entire being,
for in listening we ourselves will be transformed,
and God's perfect light will cast out the darkness of sin and death.

Blessed be the God of Moses and Elijah,
and Blessed be the name of his Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

Let us pray.... Loving God - God of power and might - source and end of
all glory and light - we thank you for your eternal presence - your gentle
guidance - your overwhelming beauty - your quiet whispers - your powerful
acts....  We thank you God for those moments that come to us - those
moments when you draw back the curtain that separates us from you and
allow us to glimpse your majesty and your power...  Help us, O God, to
make ourselves available for those moments - teach us to stop and to
listen, to pause and to look within ourselves for your gentle presence and
at the world around us for the signs that you leave for those who care to
see....  Lord hear our prayer...

Strengthen within us, O God, the awareness that you are with us at every
moment - grant to us not only the memory of the words of Christ as they
are found in the scriptures - but allow us as well to hear his word within
our own hearts at all times....  Lord hear our prayer....

Lord - we pray - put your mark upon us today - give to us that which you
desire us to have - and help us to share that which you desire us to
share.  Cast out, O Lord, our fear and anxiety, our turmoil and our
trouble, and make us to shine with the radiance of your loving presence... 
Lord, hear our prayer...

Lord, we pray for those situations and people who are especially upon our
mind and hearts this day - those whom we hold before you in our hearts and
raise aloud before you....(BIDDING PRAYER)
....Lord Hear Our Prayer....     

Finally Lord - we pray too for this church - this congregation of your
people.  Help us to welcome the gifts of those in our midst, and to
dedicate our own gifts to you without regard to the amount or measure by
which others serve you.  Help every one to see in us at St. Andrew's the
reflection of your glory and to hear from us the good news of your love... 
 We ask all these things in the name of Christ Jesus, he who is our Lord
and our brother, our judge and our friend.  Amen.


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

   Bless, O God, these gifts - which we offer in obedience to your
   most holy law and in thankfulness for your most gracious love.  May
   their use bring praise unto you.  Amen.

* DEPARTING HYMN:  "Be Thou My Vision"                             - VU 642

* COMMISSIONING (unison):  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.

Go in peace - love and care for one another in Christ's name;  
- and the mercy of God uphold you 
- the Compassion of Christ Jesus guide you 
- and the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit sustain you 
now and forevermore.  Amen

THREE FOLD AMEN & SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 2001 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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