Sunday 11 Feb 2024

Transfiguration Sunday

Welcome!

We know not everyone who is part of Westwood Church is able to be in church on Sunday morning however, we thought it would be good to offer some excerpts from the Sunday morning service. Where we can, we offer parts of the service in text and audio, whichever works best for you. If you want to plug in headphones to your computer, tablet or mobile phone now is a good time to do it ! If you want to offer some comment or feedback just use the comment box at the end of this post.



Scripture

2 Corinthians 4: 3 – 6

Mark 9: 2 – 9


Praise – From Heaven You Came


Prayers

God of light and truth, open our eyes to the glory of your presence in the world around us, but more than anything help us see that glory in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord, that we may grow into his likeness, and experience the joyful fulfilment of our hopes when He comes again.

God, who comes to us in the highs and lows of life, transforming us by your holy presence, shining through the dark valleys of our experience, warming and lighting our souls with shining hopes, we praise you for the light and glory of Jesus Christ. 

Heavenly Father, a life of faith in Christ your son presents us with so many things about Him that we do not understand; of how He healed and cured people of their illness, how the offer of forgiveness transformed the patterns and perspective of life.  He did that which was truly loving and we struggle to understand love so deep, so perfect.  And Father, we struggle to understand what Transfiguration means or signifies, what are you saying to us through this event which completely mystifies us?

We offer ourselves to the God who surrounded in mystery, reveals Himself to us in Christ the Son.  Mystery and revelation, hiddenness and openness, there for us to see, or not to see.  And humbly we lay an offering at your feet, gifts and resources, prayers and service, wondering how gifts so simple might be fitting for the God who transcends all these things.

Hear us as we join in the words of the Lord’s Prayer saying…

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 debts as we forgive our debtors and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory forever.  Amen.


Address

Do you believe in UFO’s  Unidentified Flying Objects?

In recent months the USA released archives from one of their secret agencies detailing accounts of UFO sightings.  It turns out UFO sightings are anything but rare, in fact they happen quite frequently.  Video footage, Radar Tracking data and eye-witness accounts lend weight to the probability that UFO’s do actually exist.

In past decades those who believed they had witnessed such events were ridiculed by family, friends, the community and by the media.  Those who chose to tell of their encounter with UFO’s were branded as crazy, insane or just plain stupid.  Too often their lives were made miserable for talking about what they believed they saw.

Modern communications however, allow us to gather information from across the globe and it turns out that not all UFO sightings are in Area 51 – that highly classified US Military base in the Nevada desert.  Right across the globe people have seen what they believe to be spaceships, technologies, beings, from other civilizations.  There is a considerable body of reliable evidence to suggest UFO’s exist.  And yet, I remain a little sceptical, only because I have not seen one myself.

In a documentary that I watched recently one participant offered some wise words, ‘Why can’t we accept that human beings have these “experiences” which are often inexplicable and outside of the norm yet are deeply meaningful and life-changing for those who have them.’  And that subtly changes the focus away from the physical existence of UFO’s to a focus upon our human condition, meaning and the spiritual.  As human beings we are able to have experiences that we cannot rationally explain but that doesn’t make them less poignant or less truthful.

It is inevitable that at the close of the Season of Epiphany we will focus on the story of the Transfiguration.  I will have written sermon’s and address on this story a goodly number of times but that does not mean that I understand it better now than I did when I entered ministry 35 years ago.

For Peter James and John what they saw was very real to them.  Peter responded to what he saw by offering to make three tents; his very practical response indicating just how real and tangible it felt to him.  They heard a voice from the cloud; physically their sense of hearing was stimulated even if they couldn’t identify how this voice was being produced.  And what they saw with their eyes was a change in Jesus appearance his clothes shinning white, whiter than anyone could wash them.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not in any way suggesting Jesus was an alien life form visiting us from a far off planet.  Jesus was a human as you and I.  But I am saying that Peter James and John, as human beings had an ‘experience’ which was inexplicable and outside of the norm yet it was deeply meaningful and life-changing for them.  In a similar way to Paul’s conversion experience on the Damascus Road.

Sometimes I wonder if we overlook the significance of the Transfiguration in our Christian tradition.  We focus, understandably, on the crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ as the heart of our Christian faith and see in those events a God of love and power at work.  But we should not overlook the capacity of human beings, like you and I, to have an ‘experience’ which defies explanation yet offers meaning and is frequently life-changing.

Peter James and John had an ‘experience’ of the Christ which though they were asked not to tell anyone about it, I suspect they didn’t have words to truly describe that experience.  And I suspect that even today we still need the reality of that unreal experience; those moments when God leaves us mystified, speechless, utterly in awe of Him and changed forever.


Praise – Fairest Lord Jesus


Prayers for Others

Israel / Gaza

The Hamas offer of a truce rejected as delusional.  Only total victory is acceptable to Israel.  And we cannot help but wonder what total victory looks like when after three months of conflict almost half of all buildings in Gaza have been destroyed, tens of thousands of civilians killed.  When Gaza has been razed to the ground and millions are left with nowhere to live and nowhere to go, with precious little in the way of aid getting to them – is that victory?  Or is it the collapse of all humanity? Does it herald something glorious or something dark and sinister?  Europe and the USA once cautiously supportive of conflict is now finding a voice that says ‘no more, this cannot continue’.

And here we are Lord, gathered in the safety of our small church, far from conflict, far from the pain that others suffer, and all we can bring to it is our small prayer.  Yet, we believe that our small prayer goes to a wonderful and amazing God who can change the course of history by changing the hearts of people.  May those who seek total victory come to set aside empty goals and learn instead to bear with one another in love.  Lord hear our prayers…

Royal Family

Father God, we remember in our prayers the members of the Royal Family as they face a time of personal crisis.  We learn of King Charles diagnosis of cancer and many will associate with the anxiety and fear such words bring.  Many will know the journey to recovery that is far from easy when treatments can be harsh and invasive.  Like many families they face these difficult times with levels of tension in relationships.  We pray that they may rediscover the importance of family and find healing for past wounds.  We pray for King Charles well-being and strength to all those who know him, love him and support him.  Lord hear our prayers…

Graciously Lord, you have heard our stumbling and inadequate words.  In our hearts there is a desire that is pure even if our words fail to give it voice that all people should come to know your love and learn to love one another as you love us. AMEN


Praise – Immortal Invisible


The Grace

And now… May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love, now and for evermore. AMEN.

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