APC 24th March 2021
“Lessons in Lent – The Mount of Reassurance”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our Midweek worship. Today we conclude our ‘Lessons in Lent’ as we pause and reflect on the story of the transfiguration. But before we do that, let’s take a moment to be still and talk to God. Let’s pray…
We come before you,
many of us feeling like we have already climbed the mountain,
and yet there is so much more of a climb left before we can be dazzled by your creation and inspired to worship.
Our loads are heavy,
with worry, with regret,
with fatigue, with illness,
with despair for all in the world
that is hurting, in danger, in bondage and more.
We trudge ahead, following you,
stumbling, hoping, praying...
breathing hard, hearts pounding, longing to find you.
Lead us Lord,
to the top of that mountain,
where we might be dazzled by your Light,
lifted by what is Divine,
and filled by the sheer delight
of your presence.
We pray this,
for ourselves, for one another,
and for the world in which we live.
Join with me in the words that Jesus taught us, saying…
Our Father, which 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.
Reflection “Lessons in Lent – The Mount of Reassurance”
Today finds us in that strange interim period leading up to Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Since Christmas, we’ve followed Jesus by eavesdropping on various fascinating moments in his life and ministry. Most recently we’ve seen how, as the hour of his death draws closer, Jesus begins to spend more time explaining to His disciples why His death is necessary. Like a life-changing diagnosis from a doctor, nothing could have prepared the disciples for the shock of realising that the one they had put all their hopes in was soon going to die. In His humanity it may be that even Jesus Himself had his doubts…
Which is why the next intriguing episode in his life is so significant and so important. I’m referring of course to the mysterious mountain hike we call the transfiguration.
Jesus selects 3 of his closet companions and takes them on a walk up a nearby hillside. The suggestion of a ramble would not have struck any of them as strange. Jesus often took retreats in quiet places to spend time in prayer. Little did they realise the unbelievable events they were about to experience. Let’s listen as it’s described for us by Mark in his gospel…
Bible Reading Mark 9 v 2-9 The Transfiguration
2 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. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 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.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 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.
There’s so much that could be said and learned from this spectacular event but today I simply want to draw your attention to the wonderful reassurance both Jesus and the disciples would have received at a time when that’s exactly what they needed.
Jesus had taken the decision to go to Jerusalem. He knew that would mean arrest and execution. It was vital to know for certain that He was right before he could go on. So He did what He always did when he faced significant crossroads. He went to the mountain to pray. At some point during His devotions, mysteriously and miraculously Moses and Elijah appeared. There were no greater figures in the history of Israel than these two giants. To Moses they owed the law of God. Elijah was the first and greatest of all the Prophets- the one who brought to people the very voice of God. Luke tells us that their conversation centred largely around Jesus’ Exodus or departure. To have these two giants tell you to “Go on” would have reassured Jesus that he was right to set His face towards Jerusalem.
As if that wasn’t enough, suddenly the presence of God descended in a a cloud and a voice from heaven spoke, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Echoing the reassurance he had received at His baptism Jesus would have been left in no doubt that His heavenly father loved Him and that the path to glory was the way of the cross.
But Jesus wasn’t the only one who received reassurance in this emotionally charged worship experience. The disciples had been shattered by Jesus announcement that he was going to Jerusalem to die. It was the complete opposite of everything they understood about the Messiah. Not only were their minds baffled, their hearts were broken. What they experienced on that mountain would give them something to hold on to even when they couldn’t understand. Cross or no cross, they had heard God’s voice, acknowledging Jesus as His Son.
I don’t know about you but I can’t seem to resist the temptation to peek at the daily Covid update hoping for some good news. But every day I’m left without much reassurance other than the reality of history that all pandemics eventually come to an end. Of course that’s not the only part of our lives where we need reassurance. For some of us it’s our kids, for others it’s our health, for some of us it’s our finances and for others its questions of how our exam results are going to turn out and where we’re going to be next year. In what areas do you feel insecure?
Where do you go when you feel like that? People we trust can often be a great source of help. But ultimately I’m learning more and more to climb the mountain by falling to my knees and laying it all out before my heavenly Father. I don’t often leave those times with a miracle or every problem resolved, but I do often receive the reassurance and the courage that I need to face the day.
What is it that’s keeping you awake at night? What big decision do you feel you need to make? What problem are you facing that needs some wise advice? Let me encourage you to talk to God about it deeply and honestly. You may just be surprised at the insight and reassurance He will give you. Let us pray…
Prayers for others
“And while he was praying the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.” (Luke 9.29)
Lord Jesus, as we pray to you this morning, help us to know the glory of your presence among us and to see more clearly the beauty of your holiness.
“Suddenly they saw Moses and Elijah, talking to him.” (Luke 9.30)
Lord Jesus, you are the fulfilment of the law and the prophets of Israel and in you the hopes and fears of all people are met. Give us grace to receive from you all that we need for today and the coming week. Bring rest and refreshment when we’re exhausted; hope and faith when we’re despondent and doubt you; and the assurance of your love and forgiveness when we’re overwhelmed by our own weaknesses and failures.
Inspire your church today with a renewed vision of your glory so that we and all your people may walk as children of light and, by your grace, reveal your presence in the world.
“To Jesus are given dominion and glory and kingship that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him.” (based on Daniel 7.14)
Lord Jesus, we pray to you for the life of our nation with its joys, its sorrows and its wrong doing.
We pray for all those who are involved in the administration of justice. Give wisdom to all those who are in authority over others especially members of the police force, those who sit in judgment, prison and probation officers and those who support the victims of crime.
We pray for all who walk in the darkness of crime whether as perpetrators or as victims living in the shadow of the wrong done to them. Reveal among them your glory and power to bring resurrection and new life out of even the deepest evils and sufferings.
“They saw his glory and heard a voice that said ‘This is my Son, my chosen, listen to him’” (Luke 9.parts of vv32&35)
Lord Jesus, as we go about our daily routines this week help us to see your glory in the people we work with, our neighbours and friends and in those we fear or find hard to get on with. In all our conversations help us to listen carefully not only to what others are saying but also to what you are saying in each encounter.
“They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” (Luke 9.31)
Lord Jesus, you know what it is to experience the joy and wonder of God’s presence and then to go down into the depths of despair and to suffer rejection and pain.
In a moment of silent prayer we give thanks for your compassion and bring to you the needs of those who are in our thoughts and hearts today……..SILENCE……
Help them and us to know that you are with us when we descend from the mountain top and that although your presence may be hidden from us you are still there with the power to bring comfort and healing of body, mind and spirit.
“They appeared in glory” (Luke 9.31a)
Lord Jesus, we pray for those who are now with you in your eternal glory. As we rejoice in the fellowship of those who now see the fullness of your glory, be with us in our journey and transform our lives with the promise that you will grant us, with them, a share in your eternal kingdom.
Lord Jesus, we give you thanks and praise because the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour and the majesty belong to you and you reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, One God for ever and ever. Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share in worship with you this morning. Thanks for tuning in. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it to be encouraging.
I’ve still no further confirmation of when our church can reopen for services but as vaccines continue to roll out we hope it won’t be too long until we can meet together.
One piece of exciting news is that we will be leading worship on the RTE One Sunday morning service next Sunday at 11am. This will be a special Palm Sunday service. Please do pray for all those taking part as we head down to RTE studios next Sunday at 8am. Pray that God will give us all courage as we record live and that our message will be a great blessing to all who hear. And please tune in on TV at 11am or livestream on your phone on RTE player.
Please continue to pray for Father Padraig as he continues to recover in hospital.
We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes as a Kirk Session over the last number of months updating all our policies and procedures as part of our first year of recording for the Charity Commission. As part of that process in the coming weeks we will be emailing every family a Consent form to ensure that we are fully compliant with Data Protection Legislation. This Consent form will enable you to see all the information that we currently hold on file about your family. Please amend the information in case there is anything you don’t want us to hold or if there is other information like an email address or phone number that you would like us to have so that we can contact you. Please make sure that anyone in your family over 16 sees the form, amends it accordingly and then signs it. If you require any additional forms then please do let us know and we can email one out to you.
I’m conscious that many of us are weary and really struggling the longer the lockdown restrictions continue, so please do continue to keep in touch with one another to encourage and reassure one another.
But for now, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
May God now send us back down the mountain of our worship.
We have been changed. We can’t be silent anymore.
We have seen the Light of the World. Go and share the radiance of His love!
And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy spirit be with us all now and forever more, Amen.
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