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                       St Clement Church Community Service

                                       Sunday before Lent

                            

 

Good morning and welcome to our Community Sunday Morning Service.                          Are you ready?                                                                                                                             We are three days away from the beginning of Lent. How do you follow Lent? Do you give up things, like chocolate or alcohol? Do you set aside a little bit longer each day to read your Bible and pray, or do you consciously do an extra ‘good deed’ each day? Perhaps you don’t do any of those things.                                               Lent was the time that Jesus used to prepare Himself for the agony of what lay ahead of him, and then the glory of His Resurrection.                                                                                                       What do we need to do to prepare ourselves for sharing in the pain of Good Friday and then the wondrous joy of Easter?                                                                

With love                                                                                                                                                          Liz                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Let us pray

Dear Lord, as we gather here in the harbour of your safety, we thank you for fellowship and family.

We ask that you will strengthen us, restore us, and inspire us with your love. Lord, fill us with your peace so that, as we journey onwards, we may pour out your love and grace to others.                                                                                             We ask that our souls may catch the wind of your Spirit so that we may take your promises to all the earth.                                                                                                                                               

Amen

A prayer of Penitence

Most merciful God,                                                                                                          Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,                                                                                                               we confess that we have sinned                                                                                                  in thought, word, and deed.                                                                                                      We have not loved you with our whole heart.                                                                     We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.                                                              In your mercy forgive what we have been,                                                                                   help us to amend what we are,                                                                                                         and direct what we shall be;                                                                                                        that we may do justly, love mercy,                                                                                              and walk humbly with you, our God.

Amen

Hymn:  79 Christ whose glory fills the skies

The Collect for the Sunday before Lent

Almighty Father, whose Son was revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross: give us grace to perceive his glory, that we may be strengthened to suffer with him and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Amen

                                                                                                                                                         

Readings                                                                                                                                       Exodus 24. 12 - 18

2 Peter 1. 16 – 21

Hymn: 50 Be still for the presence of the Lord                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gospel – Matthew 17. 1 - 9

(Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew)

Response: ‘Glory to you O Lord

Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.                                                 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.                                         Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’                    While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, ’This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’                                                                                                                         When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’                                 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’ 

(This is the Gospel of our Lord      Response:    Praise to you, O Christ)                                                                                                        

Reflection

All of us will, at one time or another, have been on interview for a new job, or will have moved house, or will have decided to ask someone to marry us or been the one who said ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ or experienced the loss of a loved one. The result, whatever it may have been, will mean ‘change!’                                                                            Change, whether we see it as good or bad, wanted or unwanted, is rarely simple. I’m pretty sure all of us have woken up the next morning wondering ‘what has just happened?’ We may have sighed with relief, we may have wept with disappointment or sorrow, we may have celebrated but equally we may well have wondered what we have just gotten ourselves into, for, at some level, we will have to deal with change.

All of us will have woken up to change in our lives, in the United Kingdom, and in our world. We’ve wondered ‘just what is going on’ and ‘what do I do now?’ Sometimes it is the change that we wanted and other times it is change we never wished for or wanted. Sometimes we experience the change as positive and good. Other times, the change is painful and a loss of something we valued or wanted. Whether we see it as good or bad, desired or unwanted, change always comes with consequences, challenges and questions.

I suspect that each of us could tell stories about the changes that we have experienced, the changes that are happening in our lives right now, or the changes that we hope or fear are happening. How do we live in the midst of change? What handholds are there when it seems the world around us as well as within us is changing?

I wonder whether the disciples in today’s Gospel might be asking the same kind of questions, and if they too are feeling the wind of change blowing through their lives. Why? Well, immediately before Jesus takes Peter, James and John up the mountain, he tells them and the others that He must suffer, die and be resurrected on the third day. He will tell them this again after they come down from the mountain.

What happens on that mountain top took place between Jesus’ two statements of impending change. Maybe that event, what we call the Transfiguration, was about preparing and helping the disciples live through the coming change.                                                                                                                                 Maybe, the Transfiguration story has something to teach and show each one of us about how to live in the midst of change. Maybe that’s why, every year, the Transfiguration is the Gospel we hear on the Sunday before we enter the season of Lent, a season that focuses on change. Change, whether on the mountain top of life or in the valley of the shadow of death is a reality for all of us.

One of the things I am aware of in the midst of change is just how many voices begin to speak. Some are outside of me and some are from within.                                               There are voices of commentators chattering about what is happening and what should be done, voices of judgement, voices of second guessing, voices of fear. There are voices of self-doubt, self-criticism, and all the would’ves, should’ves, and could’ves. Some voices tell us to run and hide, and others tell us to fight and resist. Some voices ask questions and want explanations. Other voices deny what is happening, blame, or declare it to be the end of the world.   So many voices cry out for attention. Not every voice, however, is helpful or worth listening to. Some voices may sound sweet but they are not good for us. The story of the Transfiguration says there is only one voice to listen to. The voice of God speaks from the bright cloud overshadowing Peter, James, and John. ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him.’

What if in the midst of change we sought to hear and listen to that one voice, the voice of Christ? What if we kept our ears open to what he is saying in our life and the world today? To let ourselves become aware of and attentive to what he is saying and doing, to let his concerns and desires become our concerns and desires, to let his way of engaging life and the world become our way of engaging life and the world.                                                                                                         It would mean that whatever change comes upon us, it does not have to have the final word. There is another voice. Jesus is always speaking a word larger and more powerful than all the other voices. In the midst of change, Jesus speaks a word of life, a word of hope, a word of forgiveness, a word of mercy, a word of beauty, a word of generosity, a word of courage, a word of love, a word of healing.

I suspect we’ve all faced change that has caused us to stumble and fall, paralysed us, or left us overwhelmed. Again, this is not about whether the change is perceived as good or bad. It’s about regaining our balance and getting our feet back under us. It’s about stepping into new life when we aren’t sure what that looks like or if there really is a new life waiting for us.                                              

The three disciples ‘fell to the ground and were overcome by fear.’ Jesus touches them and says, ‘Get up.’ But, it’s more than just ‘get up.’ A more literal translation would be something like ‘be raised up,’ ‘be aroused from the sleep of death,’ or maybe even ‘be resurrected.’

Jesus comes to us in whatever circumstances of change we find ourselves, touches us, and says, ‘Get up, be raised.’ It’s the promise that though life has changed, it has not ended. Somehow new life is hidden in the midst of change, even when we cannot see it or do not believe it. God uses the changing circumstances of our lives and world to bring us into new life.

Most of us I suspect live with some level of fear. Change often brings about fear – the fear of losing what we love, value and desire; and sometimes it’s the fear that comes with getting what we want. In the midst of change Jesus says, ‘Do not be afraid.’ He speaks to the heart of the human condition. They are the words we need to hear when we are raised up and back on our feet.                                            His words do not magically eliminate our fear. Instead, they are the call to take a first step into a new and changed life despite our fear.  They are the assurance, once again, that change does not have the final word. Christ does. We are not called to be fearless but to be courageous in the midst of change and fear.

I don’t know what changes you are dealing with but, listen to Him. Be raised up. Do not be afraid. What if those words are holy wisdom for times of change? What if they are the means by which we step into our own transfiguration? Maybe it wasn’t Jesus who changed on the mountain top. Maybe it was Peter, James, and John. Maybe their eyes were opened and their seeing changed, so that everywhere they looked they saw ‘Jesus himself alone.’ Maybe they saw Jesus for the first time as He had always been. 

If that’s true, and I believe it is, then it means that every change – whether good or bad, wanted or unwanted, joyful or sorrowful is illumined with divine light and filled with God’s presence.

Listen to Him. Be raised up. Do not be afraid.        

Amen                                                                                                                                      

Affirmation of our Faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father,                                                                                               from whom every family                                                                                                         in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,                                                                                                   who lives in our hearts through faith,                                                                                    and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,                                                                                       who strengthens us                                                                                                                   with power from on high.

We believe in one God;                                                                                                          Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Amen

Hymn: 51 Be thou my vision

Intercessions by Daphne Hawkins

Most merciful Father, as we gather here in our spiritual home, let your peace rest upon it. Let love abide here, love of one another, love of mankind, love of life itself and above all the love of God.                                                                                                        Let us remember, may hands build a house.                                                                           Many hearts make a home.                                                 

May your divine presence be with us as we gather here at St Clement united with those joining us who are unable to be here in person but are with us in spirit.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Dear Lord, we pray for the world-wide church and especially for our own diocese. In a world of so many difficulties, your people have lost their way. May our bishops and church leaders find vision and guidance to bring our brothers and sisters into the light and love of your church.                                              We pray for our own Reverend Diane and her loyal and loving family. Bless and guide her as she serves our church and our community with such understanding, care and love.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

We pray for our world leaders and our own government, that at this time of war, natural disasters, continuing pandemics and economic disasters, they will unite in the problems and concentrate on the serious suffering of the sick and the vulnerable; that they will put aside the desire for power and supremacy, and bring about solutions to problems and govern with honesty and integrity.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Dear Lord, we ask that you will be with all the dear people who are suffering the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. We pray for all the aid workers who are struggling to help those who have survived, those nursing the injured, finding food, warmth and shelter for all the homeless and destitute, for those bringing comfort to the many bereaved families whose lives have been shattered by the tragic loss of so many and so many little ones orphaned and traumatised.                                                                                                                        Please Lord, only you can bring light, hope and love into their lives by giving the strength and love to those who strive to help.                                                          May we all help in whatever way we can.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Merciful God, we bring to you all who suffer in body, mind or spirit, those                      lonely in sadness with no one who really cares, no light or hope in their lives.     This morning we ask you to be there for those close to us: Reverend Diane and Ken, Terry and Dot, Alison and Rob, Carole, Rupert and Linda, Margaret, Brian, Paul and Han, Lyn, Maureen, Alison, Faith and Baby Willow.                                                              Dear Lord, give all in need of your healing hands at this time, trust and hope that they may never lose their faith that you are always near bringing love and light to those in need.

Dear Lord, we pray for all who have departed this earthly journey in the last few days, that they will be welcome at the heavenly gates to join those we love but see no more; those whose anniversary falls at this time, loved and held in our hearts.

Lord, in your mercy: hear our prayer

Be with thy Church everywhere. May she walk warily in times of peace and quietness and boldly in times of trouble. Remove harshness and bitterness from us towards those who walk not as we do but who still worship our Lord in sincerity and truth.                                                                                                                     All this we ask for the sake of thy dear Son.

Rejoicing in the fellowship of St Andrew and St Clement and the Blessed Virgin Mary, we commend ourselves and the whole of creation to your unfailing love.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen

Gathering our prayers and praises into one, let us pray with confidence as Jesus taught us.

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.

Transfiguration by Malcolm Guite

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time,’                                                                      On that one mountain where all moments meet,                                                                    The daily veil that covers the sublime                                                                              In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.                                                                             There were no angels full of eyes and wings                                                                       Just living glory full of truth and grace.                                                                          The Love that dances at the heart of things                                                                        Shone out upon us from a human face                                                                          And to that light the light in us leaped up,                                                                      We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,                                                                          A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope                                                                                  Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.                                                                      Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar                                                                        Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

Notices

 The Peace

God calls us to peace:                                                                                                      In God’s justice is our peace.                                                                                  Christ calls us to be God’s people:                                                                                         In Christ is our peace.

The peace of the Lord be always with us.                                                                        

Hymn: 575 Rejoice the Lord is king

Blessing

May the strength of God sustain us;                                                                                     may the power of God preserve us;                                                                                   may the hands of God protect us;                                                                                        may the way of God direct us;                                                                                         may the love of God go with us this day and forever.

Amen

                                                                                                                                                                 

 


Page last updated: 18th February 2023 9:37 AM