Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday, Youth Ministries Day
MARK 9:2–9/9:1–6 IV
Listen for the Voice of God
2 Kings 2:1–12; Psalm 50:1–6; 2 Corinthians 4:3–6; Doctrine and Covenants 162:1a, 2a, 7, 8a–c
Provide paper, crayons (pastels), and markers for the Focus Moment, as well as a variety of pictures of mountains. Involve youth in today’s service by asking them to share in the Call to Worship, Focus Moment, testimonies, or prayers.
Call to Worship
This reading could also be used as a call and response between the presider and the congregation with each reading every other line.
Readers 1 & 2: Listen to the Voice that speaks from beyond the farthest hills,
Reader 1: from the infinite heavens above,
Reader 2: and the vast seas below.
Readers 1 & 2: Listen to the Voice that echoes across the eons of time
Reader 1: and yet speaks anew in this moment.
Readers 1 & 2: Listen to the Voice,
Reader 2: for it cannot be stilled,
Reader 1: and it calls you once again
Readers 1 & 2: to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom,
Reader 2: even Zion,
Readers 1 & 2: on behalf of the One whose name you claim.
—Doctrine and Covenants 162:1a–b
Hymn of Rejoicing
“Great and Marvelous Are Thy Works” CCS 118
OR “God Is Calling” CCS 172
OR “The Living Word of Scripture” CCS 65
Mark 9:2–9/9:1–6 IV
Read Michael Garland’s book, Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook (Dutton Children’s Books, 2003, ISBN 9780525471332).
Zach thinks reading is boring until Miss Smith reads to the class from her special book where the characters leap from the pages and come to life! One day when the principal tries to read the storybook, the characters escape the classroom and overrun the school.
After reading, discuss transfiguration and compare it to what happened in Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook.
In the scripture we heard this morning, the disciples who went with Jesus up the mountain already knew about Moses and Elijah from their traditions and teachings, but when Jesus is transfigured, the people they have only heard about are suddenly there, in front of them! Much like Miss Smith’s storybook characters, whose stories eventually had to end and the characters return to the book, this experience on the mountaintop cannot last forever. But Jesus’ disciples are changed by the amazing transformation they have witnessed, the ancestors they have seen, and the experience on the mountaintop.
OR Show pictures of mountains either from a book or magazine, by projecting them on a screen, or printing them for everyone to see.
Jesus’ disciples had been taught about Moses and Elijah, but when they went up on the mountain and saw the two prophets, it was very hard for them to understand what they were seeing. When Jesus was transfigured; that was even harder to figure out. Transfigured means that Jesus’ appearance changed. Suddenly his clothes were very white and Jesus himself was shining as bright as the sun. It was a confusing time for the disciples—Peter, James, and James’ brother John.
Who enjoys visiting the mountains like the ones that the disciples climbed with Jesus? Has anyone taken a vacation in the mountains? Let’s look at some pictures of mountains from various countries throughout the world.
What would be the most fun about being in the mountains? Use some of the answers below if your group isn’t familiar with being in the mountains.
- You can often see for miles and miles when you are high in the mountains.
- The weather is often cooler when you are there.
- There are fewer people on many mountain trails and it is easier to relax.
God wanted the three disciples to listen to Jesus while they were on the mountaintop, so he said to them, “This is my Son. Listen to what he says!” When they looked up, they saw only Jesus. Moses and Elijah were no longer with them.
We need to listen to Jesus, too, and sometimes it helps us to take a break, away from everything else—even if we don’t go to the top of a mountain—so we can listen to his words and be ready to tell others about him. We can listen to Jesus when we are walking around in our backyard and that will help prepare us to share Jesus’ message.
Join with me in prayer by repeating these words after me.
Thank you, God, for reminding the disciples to listen to Jesus.
Help us to listen to Jesus as well.
Sometimes it is confusing trying to listen to everybody’s advice.
Help us to hear and know Jesus more and more each day. Amen!
Provide paper, crayons (pastels), and markers and ask participants to illustrate the scripture story they just heard of Jesus’ mountaintop experience.
Hymn of Centering
“God the Sculptor of the Mountains” CCS 21
OR “O God We Call” CCS 195
OR “In My Life, Lord” CCS 602
Doctrine and Covenants 162:2a
Sermon based on Mark 9:2–9/9:1–6 IV
Ask three people to give testimonies of their own mountaintop experiences with the Lord. Choose a diverse group in age, church involvement, and gender. Children could participate, speaking through the eyes of camp experiences. All could consider sharing these points:
- Share the details of why this experience was so special for you.
- Tell us about the circumstances.
- Were you the only one who experienced this mountaintop experience or were there others?
- Why do you think you were affected so strongly in this situation?
- Did you live your life differently after this experience?
- Did your life return to “normal” after this or were you permanently affected?
Between each testimony, sing the refrain (“This is our story…”) from: “Now in This Moment” CCS 96
Disciples’ Generous Response
Project the video, “Community of Christ: Exhaling God’s Love”
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
Hymn of Generosity (during the receiving of Mission Tithes)
“Bless Now, O God, the Journey” CCS 559
OR “For the Life That You Have Given” CCS 619
OR “Sometimes We Wait, Expecting God” CCS 304
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Pastor’s Statement of Discernment
Ask a member of the pastorate to share a statement of vision and hope for the congregation that has been emerging through discernment.
“O My People, Saith the Spirit” CCS 604
OR “We Are Pilgrims on a Journey” CCS 550
OR “We Are the Singers Who Celebrate Jesus” CCS 352
God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting:
God said, “Let light shine out of darkness.”
God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
God says: You are a good and faithful people, but sometimes you fail to see the power that is resident in your own story and fellowship. Look carefully, listen attentively, and sense the Spirit among you.
Listen to the Voice: Continue your journey, O people of the Restoration. You have been blessed thus far, but there is so much yet to see, so much yet to do. Go forth with confidence and live prophetically as a people who have been loved, and who now courageously choose to love others in the name of the One you serve.
—Psalm 50:1–6, 2 Corinthians 4:3–6, Doctrine and Covenants 162:2a, adapted
Last Sunday after the Epiphany Transfiguration Sunday
Exploring the Scripture
Relationships and the idea of Jesus as teacher are a few key themes in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark’s Gospel describes Jesus’ many relationships: with God; with the crowds; with those who oppose him; and with his closest followers, his “disciples.” Jesus is the disciples’ friend and teacher (rabbi). This week’s scripture is a call to Jesus’ disciples, who are deepening their relationships with him, to listen to him as he continues to teach them what it will mean to be called a disciple.
In an earlier section in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus invites his disciples to follow him. We can only assume the reason they responded so quickly was that Jesus presented a vision (which he called the kingdom) of life that was so compelling they could do nothing but follow him. This is followed by teaching moments as Jesus shares by example and through parables. When Jesus tests Peter to see how much he has learned he asks Peter who he [Jesus] is. Peter responds to Jesus as “Messiah” or “the anointed one.” Peter’s declaration ends the first section of Mark’s Gospel.
Today’s passage marks the beginning of the second section that ends with another declaration, that of the centurion who declares Jesus as the Son of God (Luke T. Johnson, The Writings of the New Testament, rev. ed., Fortress Press, 2002, ISBN 9780800634391, 166). Our scripture story takes place six days after Peter’s confession (v. 2). Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up a mountain, away from the crowds. The first lesson is withdrawal. Jesus practiced this spiritual discipline many times. There on the mountain Jesus is “transfigured” (having a non-earthly appearance). Moses and Elijah (John the Baptist) appeared with Jesus in that state. The very
human Peter wants to mark the occasion by building a monument rather than just being “in the moment.” The permanency of the suggested buildings could also mean Peter would like nothing more than to remain in that place.
When a cloud appears representing the presence of God, the disciples are afraid. But that fear is soon lessened. They hear the voice of God confirming Jesus’ “beloved-ness” and God’s presence with him. At times like this, the disciples needed to know they too were loved by God. The text ends with the four descending the mountain. Jesus resumed his ministry of bringing hope to lives of everyone he encountered along the way. The disciples learned the importance of being with God to receive God’s love and that it was equally important to share that love in ministry to God’s people.
- God wants a relationship with God’s people.
- Withdrawing is a spiritual discipline in which we learn we too are loved by God.
- With this assurance we need not be afraid of being alone as we are about Christ’s mission.
Questions to Consider
- How has prayer or participation in a spiritual discipline helped you understand and appreciate your relationship to God?
- Where is God calling you or your congregation? What ministry are you or your congregation called to?
- Have you had a “mountaintop” experience that was hard to leave? Why is leaving necessary?
- How do you know when God is present?