Welcome to worship for February 27, 2022, Transfiguration Sunday! It is good to have you here! We have returned to worshipping in person in our space, but we will continue streaming through this site and this format for as long as it is feasible for us, but we will keep you posted.
The bulletin for this service can be found here. The bulletin of course will have the order and words of worship, the hymn and page numbers out of the ELW, and the full sermon. You are free to download the bulletin to follow along and/or look ahead, or you can just follow along with the words on your screen. The sermon is also included on this page after the worship video.
For an enhanced worship experience at home, you may have a couple things in your space. First, you may have a lit candle for most of the service, which can be extinguished during the sending hymn. And you can have something small to eat and drink for communion. More instruction will be provided during the service itself.
May God’s loving presence be apparent to you, this day and always!
By your Spirit, O God, englighten our hearts, open our minds, and fill our vision with your radiance and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
What a week this has been. Among all the ups and downs that come with really any week, this particular week we saw of course the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Now I have to admit that I haven’t been totally keeping up with this story as the stuff on our own shores has been occupying my mind, pun intended. But I know people who have family in Ukraine, and they aren’t doing ok. They haven’t been the most vocal about it all, but of course it is worrying as no one knows how this is going to escalate and what number of casualties will come as a result of this senseless violence.
I mean, isn’t the world in enough pain? Why do people need to cause more? Why is power so intoxicating that humans would be willing to hurt or even destroy other humans to get it? How can people be so closed minded and only see what they want to see, interpret things only for their own benefit, and not give a damn about anyone else but themselves and those who might be on their side?
These are the kinds of questions that keep me up at night. These are the thoughts that, on some days, make me want to roll up in a little ball and hide in a corner. These are the things that go through my mind that cause me to sometimes dream about just picking up my family and moving to some remote island, maybe owned by me, and live completely away from the horrors that this world has to offer… as long as the island has an internet connection so we can still binge on Netflix and watch Tiktok videos.
But this world is broken. Very broken. And I don’t have an answer on how to fix it. I don’t know what to do to make things better. I don’t have the words or the knowledge or the skills to make any change to the oppressive systems that continue to plague all people but especially the poor and working class people. And it’s frustrating. Because I want the world to be better. I want people to know peace and security. I want life to be better for our kids and all those that will come after us. And if we’re honest, it doesn’t really look like we’re headed in that direction these days.
So I was feeling kind of down lately. Hopeless, really. And I didn’t know how I was going to get out of it. But then something happened, something almost miraculous. I was in our boys’ room one night saying goodnight and just about to turn off the light when I heard the unmistakable running footsteps of a certain ball of energy coming down the hall and yelling in excitement. It was our daughter, of course, yelling, “Guys, guys, it’s snowing outside!”
My first reaction was more annoyance, because yeah right. It was super sunny all week, freezing cold, but super sunny, I highly doubt there would be snow at this time of year in the Lower Mainland. But as you all know, I was wrong. It was actually snowing. Pretty hard, too. I looked out the window and my heart sank because when you have youngish kids who need to be driven to school in the morning, snow is nowhere near good news. So while they were super excited, I went to bed feeling worse than ever.
Then I woke up Thursday morning hoping that the snow would be melted already, which is typical for these here parts, but no dice, I still had a few hours to go before it all melted. I still had to drive the kids through that stuff. So I dragged my feet to get ready and make breakfast for them and pack their lunches. I glanced at the news a little bit to see what the situation was like in Ukraine, not good. I checked the weather to see if the snow would need shovelling or if I could just let the Lower Mainland climate do its thing. No, I had to shovel.
More discouragement. More deflation. More depressing news.
But then I opened the door to leave. The snow… was untouched. Yes, there were car tracks on the road in front of our house but not a single footprint from our front door to that road or up and down our walk. It was… perfect, and it was beautiful.
But then I noticed the time and we had to hurry or the kids would be late.
In that moment, that brief and fleeting moment, looking at the untouched snow, taken aback by its beauty, almost in awe of the wonders of this planet we live in, my heart was somewhat filled. I know, it sounds kind of corny, especially for those living in the rest of Canada where they really had their fair share of snow by now, but this was a moment that I wished I could extend for a lot longer than the couple of seconds before the hectic busyness of life crashed back into my mind.
And I didn’t even notice the moment at first, but it wasn’t until I was sitting in my car after dropping the kids off, waiting for these parent drivers to figure out how to get out of this small residential street in spite of the snow in front of the school, that I realised how significant that moment was for me. Perhaps we can call it a “God moment.”
Today’s texts give us examples of God moments. They are actual moments too, not just some lame bout with very little snow. Moses spends some time with God and his face is glowing. Paul talks about how our encounters with God lights us up as we bask in God’s glory. Jesus goes up a mountain with a couple of disciples and somehow meets Moses and Elijah up there and is transfigured to be dazzling white. These moments, these God moments are brief and temporary, but their effects last much longer… if we let them.
In the optional verses that we have for today’s gospel lesson that I opted not to include because I was too lazy to read that much, Jesus goes back down the mountain and heals a sick boy. See, life didn’t let up for freshly-transfigured Jesus either, Jesus didn’t stay up on the mountain extending that moment in the dwellings that Peter wanted to build, Jesus might even have felt frustrated and discouraged by the state of the world as well, but he continued to heal. He continued to love. He stretched the effect of that moment of transfiguration and allowed the declaration of him being God’s chosen son to strengthen him for his ministry and service and community. So while this God moment for Jesus was fleeting, the effect of it lasted forever.
And so what are our God moments? Where and when do we encounter the living God in the midst of this hurting and broken world? In what moments do we see God most clearly, so much so that we want to extend that moment to last forever?
Perhaps it was in seeing a love that lasted generations, perhaps our own or that of our parents or grandparents. Maybe it was in the innocence of a child, our own or someone else’s, calling out in extreme excitement over something that we might have brushed off as trivial. Or it could be also in the snow, pure and untouched like tiny crystallized blessings from heaven, reflecting the sunlight with a dazzling radiance. Whatever, wherever, and whenever these God moments happen, let us allow them to not pass as quickly as a momentary moment, but have them and their effect last in our minds, our hearts, and in our lives, informing and reminding us of this good and gracious God that we serve, that even in a world that can be so cruel and evil, we can stand to face it with confidence, boldness, and love.
And I know, this doesn’t solve the current conflict in Ukraine, it probably doesn’t fill any of their people with hope, it won’t change Russia’s mind whatsoever. But the moment when I saw the many protestors in Russia calling to stop the attack, when I saw people around the world petitioning to their own governments to do something about it, when I saw the outpouring of support for good against evil, I knew that God can be seen in the midst of the violence, not supporting it, but empowering the weak, mending the brokenness, and loving the outcast. That was a moment to me that had an effect that will last forever.
On this last day of the season after the Epiphany, may we hold up the moments in which we encounter the living God, and allow them to strengthen us, motivate us, and remind us of how God declares us God’s own chosen and beloved children. Thanks be to God. Amen.