A Psalm of Asaph.
The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes and does not keep silence,
before him is a devouring fire,
and a mighty tempest all around him.
He calls to the heavens above
and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
for God himself is judge.
You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.Mark 9:2-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Jesus took Peter, James, and John onto the mountain to pray. In the quietness of their surroundings, the disciples dozed. They awakened to see Jesus gloriously transfigured, talking with Moses and Elijah. At such a powerful sight, Peter said, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what he was saying! While he spoke, a cloud enveloped them all and the voice of God said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
When the voice had spoken, the disciples found that Jesus was alone. They told no one at that time what they had seen.
Can you remember a mountaintop experience? A time when you knew the reality of God’s presence? When does God’s power appear in our lives? Is it when we especially need the assurance of his love?
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. He needed the assurance that the path he was taking would accomplish God’s will. The disciples would soon experience the rejection of Jesus by the Jews and the crucifixion. Wouldn’t having witnessed the transfigured Christ and hearing the voice of the Lord give them strength in those future days?
Did we have a mountaintop experience to reinforce our decision to follow God’s leading? Were we like Peter, who wanted to stay on the mountain to bask in God’s radiance? Did we ever respond naively as he did in wanting to build shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus?
Do you remember being a young person at Bible camp, not wanting to go back home at week’s end because you knew your friends at home would not understand your new relationship with Christ?
Or were you on a life-changing mission trip where you knew your serving during that time was truly extending God’s love and a bond was forged between those who were serving with you and those whom you served, a bond that might not be understood by others not having had the experience?
Or was it a time during your own illness or the illness of a loved one when you suddenly felt totally lifted up by the many prayers or friends, allowing you to rest in the power of God’s promise in spite of your despair?
As the disciples found, we can’t remain in the brilliance of such an experience; however, the remembrance of it continues to support us. Down from the mountain we go into the mission fields of our days in the valley.
We now come to our final session on The Historical Context of the Old Testament Prophets. After the total destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC, God's people were exiled into the land of Babylon for over 50 years. Prophets like Isaiah of Babylon gave God's people tremendous hope, announcing that God, through the Persian king, Cyrus, would set them free, allowing them to return to the Promised Land. And back they go! But once there, the remnants of destruction still hover. What now? In the midst of disappointment will there be a word from the Lord? Can another word of hope be proclaimed? Come and find out as we hear the prophetic word from the likes of Haggai, Zechariah, 3 Isaiah, Malachi, and Joel. We meet on Sunday at 10:20, and on Wednesday at 11 am. Note: there won't be a Wednesday evening class due to Ash Wednesday worship.
And coming during the season of Lent, we'll have a comparative look at how the four gospels tell the Passion Story of Jesus. All four give us the same story, but each tells it a bit differently, with nuances that reflect the character of each evangelist. Join us on Sundays at 10:20 and Wednesdays at 11.
Come travel with us!
Travelers one and all! If you're one of those interested in our two upcoming trips--either to the Holy Land later this year, or to Oberammergau, Germany, in 2020--and have been waiting for the new brochures to arrive, good news! They're here! Please see Pastor Bill. Take a brochure for yourself and several for your friends. It's not too late to sign up!