Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday
2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Come and Bring Light
2 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; Mark 9:2-9; Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a
See Focus Moment for supplies needed.
Call to Worship
Leader: The mighty one, God the Lord, speaks and summons the Earth.
Congregation: from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Leader: Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
Congregation: Our God comes and does not keep silence.
ALL: The heavens declare God’s righteousness. Let us worship our God.
—Psalm 50:1-6, adapted
Hymn of Praise
“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee"
OR “Now Sing to Our God"
Lectionary Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Ask a participant to read the lectionary scripture for today from somewhere other
than the front of the worship space.
Bring jars or mugs and something to put in the jars. This could be candy, coins, colorful pom poms, or anything that can be poured from one jar to another. Keep the pourable items separate from the jars/mugs until they are to be poured.
Ask for several volunteers (the same number as you have jars) to come to the front. Give each volunteer an empty jar.
Leader: Each of these jars represents you and me. We can hold so much inside of ourselves both what we learn and what we feel.
Ask questions about what we learn at church or what we feel when we come together. Talk about how we learn about Jesus and feel the love of God. Compare this knowledge and feelings with being full of light that shines in the darkness.
Now show the pourable items.
Leader: When we learn about Jesus or feel the love of God we are filled and hold that knowledge and feeling inside of ourselves. We might keep that light to ourselves, but…
Pour the items into your own jar, filling it.
Leader: …when we share the light and love of God, what we know and feel shines into others’ lives.
Start by pouring some of the contents of your jar into the first volunteer’s jar. Then go to the next volunteer, pouring the contents into those jars/mugs. At this point encourage the first two volunteers to follow your lead and share contents with all the others holding jars.
Leader: When we share the love of God with others, our light is spread throughout our world.
Close by reading 2 Corinthians 4:5-6. Ask volunteers to place their jars/mugs in the worship setting for all to see.
Sharing and Caring
Ask participants to share prayer requests, concerns, and needs that are present today.
Hymn of Confession
“Soften My Heart” Sing twice.
OR “When We Are Called to Sing"
We will now enter a time of spiritual practice. Spend the next few moments contemplating when you have felt disconnected from God. Where were you on your journey? Where was God? Is there anything for which you might ask forgiveness?
Consider playing music in the background or just sit in silence for a while.
Come back together. Ask an evangelist to offer a pastoral prayer over the confessions and needs of the group.
The Spoken Word
Based on 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Hymn of Reflection
“Come and Bring Light"
OR “Community of Christ”
Disciples’ Generous Response
Scripture Reading - Doctrine and Covenants 162:7a
In our lectionary scripture today, we have been reminded of the need to share the light of the gospel by proclaiming Jesus Christ. We know from contemporary scripture that this calling is still with us today as it was with disciples in the past. As we take part in the Disciple’s Generous Response, let us think about how we can more fully share our time, talent, treasure, and testimony to make real the kingdom of God on Earth.
During this time of Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. We can tangibly express our gratitude to God through our offerings, who is the giver of all.
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
If your congregation is meeting online, remind participants they can give through CofChrist.org/give or eTithing.org (consider showing these URLs on screen).
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Hymn of Commitment
“Arise, Your Light Is Come!”
OR “Send Forth Your Light, O Zion”
Sending Forth Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle, or if online, have someone light a candle at their home and hold it up to the computer camera.
Dear God, the creator of light:
We light this candle as a symbol of hope. The world is in tumult. Your children have hardened their hearts to your call to peace. Conflict, indifference, and excessive scepticism have led many away from the call of your Spirit. We close our ears and harden our hearts until we no longer recognize your presence or your Spirit leading us in our lives.
Lord, soften our hearts and the hearts of those around us, so that we can once again hear your voice calling us to a new way of life. A life lived in peace, right relationships, and pursuit of justice. Lives lived by sharing our light. May all conflicts and wars cease as your Spirit revives the hearts of all humankind. May this prayer turn into calling and then into action as we seek to bring the peaceable kingdom of God on Earth.
In the name of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, Amen.
SERMON AND CLASS HELPS
Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday
2 Corinthians 4:3–6
Exploring the Scripture
Today’s passage suggests the uneasy relationship the Apostle Paul had with the people of Corinth. That association included arguments, corrective direction, and loving connection. In this letter, Paul is found in a defensive posture striving to garner support for his interpretation of the gospel in the face of challenges from so-called “super apostles.” These people promoted a self-focused message rather than the Christ-centered message Paul proclaimed.
Paul suggests the “super apostles” interpretation was from “the god of this world”
(v. 4). Scholars and theologians disagree to whom or what the phrase “god of this world” refers. Possible definitions include another supernatural force, false loyalties to the present generation, or perhaps Satan. Theologian G. Oliver Wagner offers some others: love of success, hunger for power and privilege, seeking after wealth, blind nationalism, and church tradition.
However, there is agreement that no matter precisely what the phrase refers to, this “god” veiled or caused blindness in the minds of unbelievers and kept them from “seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (v. 4). Many people were focused on the things of the world rather than on the things of God.
Perhaps this is an application of one of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 6:19–21, he is quoted as saying,
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
A second theme Paul lifts is that those promoting this self-focused interpretation of the gospel wanted to proclaim themselves—to place themselves in the spotlight. He then says, “For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake" (v. 5). This is a two-fold message. First, followers of Jesus should not proclaim or promote themselves because there is only one worthy of such worship: Jesus Christ.
Paul suggests light does not come from us, but that divine light can shine through us because God “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (v. 6). Paul's words suggest disciples of Christ should be slaves to people “for Jesus’ sake,” extending hospitality to all and not seeing themselves as somehow greater than others.
- We must be careful to proclaim Jesus Christ and not ourselves.
- Human, worldly wisdom is nothing compared to the light of God.
- One should be careful not to have the “god of this world” captivate them and, thus, blind them to the real message of the gospel.
Questions for the Speaker
- Through what means and by whom might the gospel’s message be “veiled” in today's world?
- What can we do to make sure we are indeed listening to the wisdom of God and not applying that measurement to worldly wisdom?
- Can you recall a time when you felt the presence of God’s wisdom rather than that of the world because of your spiritual preparation and formation?
- What practices have you found to be helpful in your spiritual formation? What other practices could you use to go deeper?
SACRED SPACE: A RESOURCE FOR SMALL-GROUP MINISTRY
Year B Letters
2 Corinthians 1:18–22 NRSVUE
On Transfiguration Sunday we remember that Jesus had a transformative experience through which his glory was revealed to the disciples. As we prepare to journey through the Lenten season with Jesus, we lay open our own lives to the transformative power of God’s presence, mercy, and grace.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Dear God, just as the disciples were speechless on the mountaintop while experiencing the transfiguration of your Son, Jesus, sometimes words fail to express the yearnings of our heart for peace. We see your brilliance and your peace that bring comfort for some. But where is this peace for the hungry, the refugee, the forgotten? We’ve woven complex systems that sometimes make peace seem impossible. Yet, the disciples experienced the impossible on that mountain. Revive us to become soothing balm for a world in pain, juicy fruit for the hungry, a comforting home for the homeless. Remind us that even when we cannot speak your peace, there is much we can do to foster peace in our neighborhoods and hearts. In the name of he who lights the way. Amen.
This prayer is an ancient spiritual practice from Orthodox Christianity. It is a way of connecting with the gracious spirit of Christ as we ask to receive his mercy.
The prayer comes from the scripture of the blind man calling Jesus to heal him.
Say: Let your breath become slow and even. I will speak the prayer aloud for the first few breaths, and then you will pray silently, repeating the phrases as you breathe:
As you breathe in pray, “Lord Jesus Christ.”
As you breathe out pray, “Have mercy on me.”
Say: We will prayerfully repeat these words for two or three minutes.
Close with an “Amen.”
Invite people to share about this experience.
Sharing Around the Table
2 Corinthians 1:18–22 NRSVUE
As surely as God is faithful, our word to you is not “Yes and No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it always has been “Yes.” For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, who has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.
In our scripture today, we read another part of Paul’s correspondence to the church in Corinth. As a missionary for the early church, Paul traveled extensively. Here, Paul responds to criticism for changes in his return-visit schedule. His integrity is being questioned. If Paul could not be trusted to follow up on a promised visit, some critics asked why the community should trust his apostolic message.
He assures the Corinthians of his initial hope to be with them (1:15–16) and then asks in verse 17 if he was vacillating as he chose to change his trip plans and were ordinary human standards, e.g., self-centeredness, considered? He replies in verses 18–22. Rather than respond by listing factors that influenced the change in plans, he tells the Corinthians that he does not say “Yes” and “No” simultaneously because God does not do so.
Paul’s defense is trust in God. God is faithful, reliable, loving, and caring. The good news, God’s promises, are fulfilled in Christ and cannot change. With God, “Yes” and “No” cause no doubt. God is trustworthy. Jesus is God’s “Yes.” We should respond to the grace of God in Christ in the way we live.
Paul says he and his partners have been commissioned to play a special role in God’s plans. They have been imprinted with God’s seal, which authenticates them. And God has put the Spirit in their hearts. Is there any way to charge them with vacillating?
Paul continues to remind his readers of their connection with God. When we live by grace and gratitude, we are called to be God’s “Yes” in the world. We are transformed as we embody Jesus Christ and look with compassion into the eyes of human suffering and pain.
When we live as followers of Jesus, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are filled with radical grace. We are called to invite others to experience God’s “Yes”—of belonging, freedom, and love.
- Paul may fear that doubts about him could reflect doubts some Corinthians have of his message. Have you seen similar circumstances in today’s world?
- Paul and the Corinthians lived with misunderstanding and conflict. How might we better respond to conflict with fellow disciples and our neighbors?
- In verse 1:20 Paul mentions the use of the word Amen to conclude a prayer. It is a way to for Christians to say “Yes” to promises of God revealed in Jesus Christ. In our response, we affirm that which was said in the prayer, proclaiming faith and assent. Amen means “so be it” and comes from the Hebrew word for true. Paul says that when we worship and respond with an “Amen” we are affirming the trustworthiness of God. Does this understanding of “Amen” influence your words when you pray?
Beloved Community of Christ, do not just speak and sing of Zion. Live, love, and share as Zion: those who strive to be visibly one in Christ, among whom there are no poor or oppressed.
—Doctrine and Covenants 165:6a
The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing, small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
Revealing God, may we always be generous. You have gifted each of us with boundless grace and unending love. May our response to that love and grace be humble service to others, and may generosity be part of our nature. Amen.
Invitation to Next Meeting
Community of Christ Sings 280, “Lord, Prepare Me”
Optional Additions Depending on Group
- Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
- Thoughts for Children
Thoughts for Children
Today is Transfiguration Sunday. On this day, we remember the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus and two of his disciples went to a mountaintop. There, before their eyes, Jesus began to shine, and a voice said to them, “This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” The disciples were shocked, and they came to know Jesus in a new way.
Throughout our lives, we will come to know God and Jesus in different ways. This is because God is bigger and more than we ever can comprehend. Sometimes, the experiences that lead to these different perspectives can be surprising, scary, or confusing, leaving us unsure of what to do. In fact, we may be hesitant to learn new things about God because it might change how we see and interact with the world. However, it is really important that we remain open as God reveals God’s self to us.
To help us remember to remain open to the mystery of God, we are going to try a spiritual practice called a body prayer. For this prayer, we will pray with our bodies. As we move through the prayer, I will share various motions and explain what each means, we then will do that motion together while leaving a moment of silence to listen for God’s voice.
Please pray with me:
Mysterious God, we are grateful that you continue to show us new aspects of who you are. Help us remain open to learning more about you.
God, we place our hands atop our heads and ask that you open our minds to new understandings of you that are not limited by our expectations or zones of comfort.
God, we pat our hand on our beating heart and ask that you open our hearts to love the things you love and share compassion as you would share compassion.
God, we place our hands in circles around our eyes and ask that you open our eyes to see the world the way you do—full of possibility and beauty.
God, we move our hand outward from our lips and ask that you open our mouths so that we might speak your words of joy, hope, love, and peace.
God of mystery, we spread our arms wide and ask that you help us remain open to new understandings of who you are and that those understandings help us share your love with the world.