COCU17A.Transfiguration Sunday

Please refer also to Year B Transfiguration Sunday and  Year C Transfiguration Sunday.

Exodus 24:12-18: God calls Moses to come up the mountain to receive God’s commands, and he obeys and spends 40 days and nights with God on the mountain.
Psalm 99: A celebration of God as Israel’s king, who loves justice, who answered the calls of God’s people for help, and who speaks from the pillar of cloud.
2 Peter 1:16-21: Peter affirms the reliability of his teaching, and that of the other apostles, reminding his readers of his experience with Jesus on the mountain, and confirming his trust in the message of the prophets.
Matthew 17:1-9: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain, where he is transfigured and talks to Moses and Elijah who appear with him. God proclaims Jesus to be God’s beloved son, and afterward, Jesus instructs the disciples not to tell anyone what they have seen until after the resurrection.
(Summaries of readings: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, re-worship,

On the Feast of the Transfiguration let us take time to be still and enter into the presence of God, to reflect and to give thanks for those whose love and presence has transformed our lives.

Prayer for Transfiguration
Lead us up the mountain, O Beloved Child of God.
Transfigure us with your transcend holiness.
Shine upon us with your sacred illumination.
Dazzle us with your grace and compassion.
Transform us with revelation.
Change us with new insights.
Move us from the ordinary day-to-day to the divine extraordinary.
Let the prophets of old educate us.
May the saints of the past accompany us.
Allow the wisdom of the ages inform our hearts and minds.
But do not let us get stuck:
building shrines to former glories,
erecting edifices to distance memories,
commemorating occasions when we need to move on.
Speak to us your comforting, challenging word.
Teach us to listen to what is most important.
Help us to know what is most faithful, most true.
And when we fear failure, or exposure, or pain,
tell us in your gentle, assertive way:
“Be not afraid.”
And gather us up to come down from the mountain,
and love the world.
(Source: Ted Dodd, 2020)

Call to worship: see other ideas here, as well as specific resources for Transfiguration Sunday below

Call to Worship Litany (based on Psalm 99)
The Lord is King! The Lord is King
over all people and all creation.
The foundations of God’s throne are justice and equity,
and Holiness and Justice are names for the Lord our God.
The Lord is King! The Lord is King
over the nations, and humanity’s
cultures, traditions and relationships.
The foundations of God’s throne are love and mercy,
and Love and Mercy are names for the Lord our God.
The Lord is King! The Lord is King
over all thought, imagination, intuition,
and the endless search for knowledge.
The foundation of God’s throne is wisdom,
and Wisdom is a name for the Lord our God.
Come, let us worship this Holy and Wise God. Amen.
(Source: Joan Stott, “The Timeless Psalms”)

Call to Worship
We have seen the light of God;
on high mountains of celebration
and in the ecstasy of a lover’s embrace.
We have seen the light of God;
through the bitter scorn of betrayal
and the searing chasm of grief.
We have seen the light of God;
with eyes that have been shaded,
with eyes that have been opened,
with eyes that have been blinded.
We have seen the light of God.
(Source: Katherine Hawker, 1997,  Liturgies Outside)

Call to worship
Behind all things
behind the grey surface
there is a glory escaping
born of heaven
and belongs to heaven
a light that welcomes
a more profound way of seeing things
that transfigures the world
that casts a spell of hope
that sees the glory in the cross
and life within death
it is a glory
that meets us here
on this mountain
where Jesus Christ
covered in the dust of the world
is caught up in the glory of heaven
welcome to the mountain
(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Listening to the Stones)

Call to worship
Today we are celebrating the holy light that illuminated Jesus.
We celebrate his transfiguration on the mountain.
Light of light: transfusing and transforming light.
Divine light flooding out the shadows.
Light of love, light of delight.
Light that turns doubters into followers.
It is the same God who at the beginning said:
“Let there be light,”
who has shone in our hearts with an understanding
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The mightiest One of all, God the Eternal,
speaks and summons the whole earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From God’s holy mountain, God’s light,
the perfection of beauty, shines out.
(Source: Bruce Prewer, posted on Bruce Prewer’s Home Page)

Prayer of approach
You are the pre-dawn glow
that promises yet another new beginning;
You are the still dusk
that brings rest to a weary world;
You are the prophecy
of God’s life-giving Word inscribed on our hearts;
You are the law
that finds its fulfilment in love;
You are the mountain
where the presence of God blazes and burns;
You are the valley
where the face of God peeks out from suffering eyes;
You are the glory that we long for,
the whispered rumour of a different order,
the Shining One who transfigures all things.
You are the One we worship. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayer of confession: see general prayers of confession here or prayers related to Transfiguration Sunday here). 

Prayer of Confession: Whole-y God
Sometimes it feels like it doesn’t really matter, God,
if we ignore the needs of our spouse,
or shout at the kids unnecessarily,
or elaborate on the truth just a little, so we look better,
or waste the resources our world so generously gives;
sometimes it just feels silly to worry about making things beautiful,
to keep reaching for the best of the good, and not just the easy,
to stay true to what is true.
What difference does it really make, in the big scheme of things,
if we just take the easy way, the not-bad-but-could-be-better way?
And then we come here, and we remember.
You do not change to accommodate our good-enoughness,
our that’ll-do-ness;
You do not darken the sun just a little, so we won’t feel so dull,
or switch off some of the stars to keep us from feeling small.
You are holy – whole-y – one and complete and God;
You are Light and Life and Love and Fullness – you can be no other;
You are Beauty and Goodness and Truth – brilliant and dazzling;
And it is we who must change, we who come to this place to worship,
It is we who must choose to gaze on your holiness & beauty,
and be changed into glory.
And, so here we are, God. Please, show us yourself.
(…a time of silence is kept, followed by Words of Assurance)
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

God of all transformations,
God of all glowing faces,
you have invited us to the mountain,
invited us to glow in bright light,
dazzling white.
We accept.
Lead us on through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source: Bob Eldan)

Guided meditation: A time for journey, a time for silence….
We’re going to make space for a spiritual movement up the Mount of Transfiguration.  Spiritual mountain climbing sounds difficult, even dangerous. But it really requires discipline, which is an effort of a different sort.  As Henri Nouwen said, “In the spiritual life, the word ‘discipline’ means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act’. Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied… to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.”   We’re setting aside some time right now to make space.  Get comfortable.  Get up and move around quietly if you wish to let your body mimic the movement of images we’ll use within this prayer.  We’re going to figuratively and prayerfully climb a mountain to gain a more-than-ordinary perspective with this guided meditation.

1.    Image what little you can see of your world from the “ground level” of your immediate time, location, and experience.  Call to mind recent joys.  Hold onto one of those images with a feeling of delight. . . .  Call to mind immediate needs that are in the forefront of your daily vision; people and situations close to you in terms of relationship or physical proximity.  Hold onto one or more these images with a sense of tenderness and care. . . .
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)

2.    Imagine yourself next moving to a higher vantage point.  Image the world as you gain a “higher” perspective: look down and “see” from your store of memories the more distant joys of your past. Or imagine some future happiness and just smile inwardly. . . .That appreciation or anticipation welling up is a prayer of thanksgiving.  From this same vantage, glimpse the needs of people you know about but with whom you’re not in close relationship. From this vantage you can take in whole groups of people with a single glance, so focus on a group of people who live different lives than you do. Now, with expanded compassion, hold onto that image. . . .
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)

3.    We move a third time.  Now image the world from the peak of a mountain.  See the world’s beauty and connectedness.  Look down and find yourself, your own life, if you can. Do you feel differently about your own self from this vantage point?  If you were really on the top of this mountain, would you feel less attached to things and schedules and other priorities that now dictate your movements?  And look at the world below. What movements or patterns are you seeing in the overall social landscape, in the ecosystems below?  Are you praying for different things in different ways from this distance where national boundaries disappear and even distinctions among species fade?  . . . .
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)

4.    Image earth finally from a great distance in time and space.  Rather than seeing yourself as small and insignificant, see yourself as part of something vast, ongoing, eternal. Can you feel love for that tiny planet and its creatures—and all beyond its gravitational pull?  Can you imagine a Sacred Compassion embracing all that is throughout all Time?  At this pinnacle of perspective, you might even glimpse – as did Peter, James and John–the Cosmic Christ, the Christ who is our all in all, the Spirit that pervades all things, the human Jesus united with Divine Love, the Light of Lights.  To attain this perspective in a real and lasting way is what some call “enlightenment.”  Of course Jesus shone on the Mount of Transfiguration!  Of course the disciples noticed his change.  Of course he was then ready to set his face toward Jerusalem and the requirements of pure LOVE.
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)
(Source: Ellen Sims, That Preacher Woman blogspot).

God Unsheltered
The mind would build its shelters,
its walls, its solid boundaries,
its holding pens for those mysteries
that challenge the edges of thought;
would seek to grasp, to domesticate
the God beyond comprehension;
would seek with dogma’s fences
to keep wonder dulled and distant,
the heart thus safely protected
from the love that burns like fire.
See it consuming Moses on his mountain,
see it sweeping Elijah into heaven,
see it shining like the sun from Jesus’ face,
this love that moves God, unsheltered,
down the mountain, to the road to the cross.
(Source: Andrew King, 2017, A poetic kind of place)

Transfigure Us
Son of the Father,
The pleased one of God,
Transfigure us.
Transfigure our comprehension of who you are.
Grant us that greatest of epiphanies,
The insight of the fullness of your nature.
May we find and hold you in awe that we might not take you for granted.
Continually humble our understandings of you,
That we might not presume in arrogance to define who you might be,
Or get stuck in the moment of an understanding of one aspect of your being.
Transfigure how we see you,
That we might, in relationship and friendship, be inspired to come to know you better.
Transfigure us,
That in knowing you better we come to know your call to us better.
Transfigure us,
So that in following you and embodying your way,
Our living and being might be transfigured,
As you redeem and transform us through your love and grace.
Transfigure us, Christ,
Now and always may it be so.
(Source: Jon Humphries, Prayers that unite)

Prayers for others: see general prayers here or specific prayers for Transfiguration Sunday here. 

Prayers for others
Introductory words:
On Transfiguration Sunday, we remember that the Transfigured One moves back down the mountain with the realization of suffering to come. Let’s remember that we follow Jesus not only up the mountain for dramatic moments and spiritual highs but we also walk forward with him into the world’s suffering. After all, it’s often there that we are transfigured. Let us pray: (prayers are offered)
(Source: Ellen Sims, That Preacher Woman)

Believe me, I know
how tempting it is
to remain inside this blessing,
to linger where everything
is dazzling
and clear.
We could build walls
around this blessing,
put a roof over it.
We could bring in
a table, chairs,
have the most amazing meals.
We could make a home.
We could stay.
But this blessing
is built for leaving.
This blessing
is made for coming down
the mountain.
This blessing
wants to be in motion,
to travel with you
as you return
to level ground.
It will seem strange
how quiet this blessing becomes
when it returns to earth.
It is not shy.
It is not afraid.
It simply knows
how to bide its time,
to watch and wait,
to discern and pray
until the moment comes
when it will reveal
everything it knows,
when it will shine forth
with all that it has seen,
when it will dazzle
with the unforgettable light
you have carried
all this way.
(Source: Jan L. Richardson, The Painted Prayerbook)

Sending out/Benediction: see general prayers here or specific prayers related to Transfiguration Sunday here.

Sending out
The love of God encircle you,
the grace of Christ enthral you,
the friendship of the Spirit enliven you,
now and evermore.
Yes, now and evermore. Amen!
(Source: Bruce Prewer, on his website)

a liturgy for the sacrament by John van de Laar
(Source: Food For The Road: Life Lessons From The Lord’s Table,  John van de Laar, (c) 2005)


Music suggestions (lectionary based): Singing from the Lectionary, collated by Natalie Sims.

Jesus on the mountain peak
Jesus, on the mountain peak,
stands alone in glory blazing;
let us, if we dare to speak,
with the saints and angels praise him.

Trembling at his feet we saw
Moses and Elijah speaking.
All the prophets and the Law
shout through them their joyful greeting.

Swift the cloud of glory came.
God proclaiming in its thunder
Jesus as the Son by name!
Nations, cry aloud in wonder!

Jesus is the chosen One,
living hope of every nation.
Hear and heed him, everyone;
sing with earth and all creation:
(Words: Brian Wren; Music: Cyril V. Taylor/Meter: 78 78 with Alleluia)

The Mountain (tune: Londonderry Air)

1. How bitter-sweet to be here on this mountain,
high up above the troubles of this world;
to leave behind the clamour of the needy crowd;
to be at last alone with our dear Lord!
And God’s true light expunges every shadow –
there is no doubt up here in this high place –
we see the glory of our God in Jesus;
see now that holy, holy light upon His face.

2. We long to stay up here upon this mountain;
How good it is to be here with our Lord.
To bask here in the light of God’s great beauty,
kneel at His feet and soak up every word.
O, hear His call: “Come, gather all my faithful!”
Come, let His word shine in your hearts unveiled.
Oh! to go now to heaven like Elijah!
Oh that this holy, holy vision would not pale!

3. How bitter-sweet to be here on this mountain,
for well we know the valley waits below;
Our fellow trav’lers wait for news from mountain tops,
to share with us the joy that we now know.
They need to know that Jesus is the Saviour,
He is the light that shines for all the world.
and we will serve Him in the darkest valley
We will proclaim, proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord!
(Words: Brenton Prigge, Tune: Londonderry Air)

Mountains and Valleys
Stand upon a mountain peak;
hear the gravid stillness speak;
watch the golden dawn awake;
think of journeys love may take;
pause to breathe the misty air;
see God’s glory dwelling there.z

Hear the words of blessing fall;
sense a presence, touching all;
feel joy stirring deep within;
see transfigured life begin;
pause to breathe a thankful prayer;
see God’s glory dwelling there.

Gaze upon the world below;
hear the cries of human woe;
take the path to valleys deep;
share the grief of all who weep;
pause to offer love and care;
see God’s glory dwelling there.

Live with mindfulness and grace;
name each vale as sacred space;
share the warmth of love divine;
see shekinah’s* beauty shine;
love the complex world we share;
know God’s glory dwelling there.

*(shekinah – presence, blessing and glory of God)
(Words by Helen Wiltshire, Music by Norm Inglis, from Pilgrim Uniting Church’s publication Here’s a New DayMountains and Valleys.Wiltshire.Inglis

Holy Ground

We have seen the God of Glory
We have see the God of glory
in the face of Jesus Christ,
wholly human, truly holy,
source and summit of our life.

God, who summoned light from darkness,
shining in our hearts today,
we will praise your name forever. Amen.

We have heard the voice of wisdom.
in the Word of God made flesh,
calling for the new creation,
singing with the Spirit’s breath. Chorus

We will share the gospel story,
we will bear the light of Christ,
bringing good news to the nations,
lifting up the bread of life. Chorus
(Words: David Grambrell. Link here to music to purchase and download)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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