Youth Ministries Day
Last Sunday after the Epiphany (Ordinary Time)
Listen to Jesus
Exodus 34:29–35, Psalm 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12—4:2, Luke 9:28–43/9:28–43a IV,
Doctrine and Covenants 162:1–2b
For the following reading ring a chime slowly three times. Invite the congregation to close their eyes and cup their hands to receive the word of God. When reading, be sure to pause after each use of the word “listen” and speak slowly and clearly, perhaps starting softly and increasing in volume until you have reached a regular speaking level.
1a. Listen, O people of the Restoration (ring chime)—you who would become a prophetic people, embodying in your life together the ministries of the Temple.Listen to the Voice that speaks from beyond the farthest hills, from the infinite heavens above, and the vast seas below.
b. (ring chime) Listen to the Voice that echoes across the eons of time and yet speaks anew in this moment. Listen to the Voice, for it cannot be stilled, and it calls you once again to the great and marvelous work of building the peaceable kingdom, even Zion, on behalf of the One whose name you claim.
2a. (ring chime) Listen carefully to your own journey as a people, for it is a sacred journey and it has taught you many things you must know for the journey yet to come.
b. (ring chime) Listen to its teachings and discover anew its principles. Do not yearn for times that are past, but recognize that you have been given a foundation of faithful service, even as you build a foundation for what is yet to be.
—Doctrine and Covenants 162:1–2b
Hymns of Praise
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty” — HS 56
OR“Firm Foundation” — NS 10
OR“Mighty God, Transforming God!” — NS 38
Prayer of Invitation and Awe
Welcome and Words of Worship
Celebrating Our Children and Youth
Have children and youth come forward. Present each of them with a prepared piece of paper or poster board with an affirmative adjective written on it—such as wonderful, awesome, helpful, or cheerful. Have them read their adjective and reflect on how it feels to be upheld in this way. Then have the children face the congregation, and give the congregation the opportunity to shout out or add other positive descriptive words they feel represent the children as a group. (Alternatively, you could have the congregation form two lines, facing one another, down the aisle, holding their arms up to form a “tunnel” overhead. Invite the children to walk slowly between the lines as the people of the congregation offer words of encouragement.)
Tell the children that part of our role as a church family is to recognize the gifts in each person and share how grateful we are for the presence of each one. Jesus tells us we are not only beautiful and valued, but beloved, and it is up to us to hear Jesus’ words of affirmation in our lives and to share those words with others so they too can know the love of Jesus. Talk about the need to listen together to hear Jesus’ voice and the promise that we will walk together as followers of him. Consider giving the children stickers with uplifting phrases on them or another small token of support and gratitude.
“Lord Jesus, of You I Will Sing” — SP 31
OR “Teach Me, God, to Wonder” — HS 176
Prayer for Peace
Great God of Peace, we seek to listen. To listen to your breath, to listen to your heartbeat, to listen to your song of hope. We pause that we might become still before you, aware of your voice of love that has been spoken into all of creation. Help us to set aside the distractions, to remove the headphones from our ears, to escape the hum of white noise and simply bask in the presence of your peace. Fill us with your light of life, that we might be transformed into open vessels for the healing of your world. We come aware of the needs of the children of every land and people. May our energies partner with yours to make for a more just and equitable world, where each life is valued and each gift of creation is cherished. Mold us as disciples of your Son, the Prince of Peace, the Welcomer and Advocate of children, the One whom we hear and the One whom we follow, even Jesus the Christ. Amen.
“Strong, Gentle Children” (see words and music)
The Spoken Word
Based on Luke 9:28–43
Moment for Meditation
“Word of God, Speak” by MercyMe (Integrity Media, 2002)
View the music video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JK_6osCH74 or have a soloist sing this song. Digital sheet music can be purchased at www.musicnotes.com (item #MN0049534).
Confessional Reflection (print in bulletin for people to read and silently reflect on)
How might you continue to open your life to hear Jesus more clearly?
“Song of Shalom” — SP 40
OR “Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult” — HS 371
Disciples’ Generous Response
As part of the Disciples’ Generous Response, we ask you to integrate the message of “giving to your true capacity” and “sharing equally” to fund the World Church Mission Initiatives and your local and mission center ministries. Generosity stories are provided to keep the church in touch with how contributions to Mission Tithes focus on the whole mission of Jesus Christ through the five life-changing, church-changing, and world-changing Mission Initiatives. Please use the stories, testimonies, and up-to-date contribution information as part of your offertory ministry. Visit www.CofChrist.org/generositystories to print a copy, or contact your pastor, congregational financial officer, or worship coordinator for a copy. You can also find additional material to assist with the congregation’s understanding of A Disciple’s Generous Response at www.CofChrist.org/generosity.
Blessing and Receiving of Mission Tithes
Hymn of Commitment
“I’m Gonna Shout and Sing” — NS 20
OR “Lord, Who Views All People Precious” — HS 459
OR “There’s a Spirit in the Air” — HS 214
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.
—2 Corinthians 3:17—4:2
Scripture: Luke 9:28–43
Exploring the Scripture
Today’s scripture has two movements: the transfiguration of Jesus, and the healing of a boy who had convulsions. The transfiguration account follows Peter’s proclamation of Jesus as the Son of God, and has been used throughout Christian history as one of the foundations for high Christology—the understanding that Jesus, as the Son of God, is divine in nature. Parallels between the story of the transfiguration and Moses’ encounter with God are obvious.
Exodus 24:12–18 includes these elements: Moses on a mountain; a cloud from which God speaks; references to the glory of God; and eventually a new law. Luke 9 includes these elements: Jesus on a mountain; God’s voice from a cloud; Jesus’ face shining with glory; and the confirmation of the new relationship between God and Jesus. Moses is included in this vision, affirming the unbroken line of God’s authority and will in law, prophecy, and salvation symbolized by Moses, Elijah, and Jesus.
Yet there is no question in this account about who has priority. God’s voice identifies Jesus, not Moses or Elijah, as the Son of God and the chosen one—the Messiah. God directs the three waiting disciples to listen to Jesus, establishing Jesus’ supremacy over both the law and the prophets. During Jesus’ baptismal experience, which inaugurated his ministry, God’s voice clearly identifies Jesus as God’s Son (Luke 3:22). Then near the close of his ministry, the Gospels record God’s reiteration of Jesus’ identity. Luke, alone among the Gospel writers, sets the baptism and the transfiguration within the context of prayer. Repeatedly, the evangelist focuses on Jesus’ prayer life with God as a significant factor in his journey of faith, mission, and identity.
The reaction of the disciples throughout this experience is an interesting study. They are sleepy, yet manage to remain awake to witness the transfiguration. Moses and Elijah had been talking to Jesus about his upcoming departure. Peter now suggests erecting tabernacles to Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. The reference to tabernacles also takes us back to the time of the Exodus and the Feast of Tabernacles. (Lev. 23:33–43). But the disciples do not understand. They are actually terrified when a cloud comes and a voice from the cloud identifies Jesus as “My Son.” When the episode ends, they keep silent. No word of the transfiguration illumined the followers of Jesus until long after his death.
The second movement, concerning the healing of the boy who had convulsions, presents an ironic contrast to the glory of the transfiguration. The next day, a man begs Jesus to heal his son, and reports that Jesus’ disciples were unable to help. Jesus’ exclamation is a serious insult: “You faithless and perverse generation!” Did he mean the disciples who could not heal? Did he mean the man and the boy in need? Did he mean the waiting crowd, who had gathered to watch the drama, hungry for miracles? The text is unclear and the irritation expressed by Jesus appears unwarranted, in strange contrast to the glory of the previous day. It is here, in the second movement, that we find evidence of low Christology—the understanding that Jesus is fully human. Fully divine, fully human—the paradox runs throughout the Gospels, and continues to be a mystery we affirm without full understanding.
Jesus “healed the boy, and gave him back to his father” (Luke 9:42). The symbolic significance of the event becomes clear in the next few verses, where Jesus turns to his disciples and speaks of their betrayal. In the story about a rejected son who people see as unclean because of his convulsions, the boy is healed, restored to his father, and given new life. In the coming days, Jesus too will be rejected and scorned by the crowd—eventually to be restored to his Abba Father through death. Like the boy, Jesus will also be restored to life—in the gift of resurrection that God will give.
- In the mystical experience of the transfiguration, God affirms Jesus as the Son, the chosen one, and raises Jesus above both law and prophets in the eyes of the disciples who witnessed it.
- Spiritual experiences (even the transfiguration) do not perfect us or render us free from confusion, irritation, idolatry, and human weakness.
- God’s purpose for each person is healing, restoration to wholeness, and new life. It takes different forms, and comes in different ways, to each individual.
Questions for the Speaker
- When have you experienced God’s transforming power?
- When have you seen someone’s face glow with the presence of God’s Spirit illuminating the best of who he or she was created to be?
- In what ways does Jesus’ transfiguration reflect God’s promise of steadfast love?
- In what ways does the healing of the boy who had convulsions reflect God’s promise of steadfast love?
- Which characters in these two stories do you identify with most? Why?