Last Sunday after the Epiphany
Youth Ministries Day
MARK 9:2-9/9:1-6 IV
1 Kings 2:1-12; Psalm 50:1-6; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6 Doctrine and Covenants 164:9 d, f
Preparation for Worship
Today is Youth Ministries Day. Ask youth in your congregation to be a part of this service. Invite them to write prayers for the opening and closing of the service. Alternatively, ask youth you know who do not attend your congregation to write the opening and closing prayers and use those in the service, crediting those youth for the prayers.
“Jesu, Tawa Pano/Jesus, We Are Here” Sing three times. CCS 71
Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.
OR “Kum ba yah, Seigneur” CCS 75
Divide the congregation into groups and follow the Performance Note suggestion at the bottom of the hymnal page OR Sing along with the vocal recording found on Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings.
OR “As We Gather” Sing twice. CCS 73
Today is Youth Ministries Day and the last Sunday of the Epiphany before we enter the Lenten Season. Let us take time to reflect on our time as a youth and specifically consider a time in your youth when you truly felt God’s presence and had a full God moment. Some might call this a mountaintop experience. It is that moment when God’s presence is felt and known. It is the moment of true faith. Today’s scripture focuses on the disciples’ mountaintop experience during the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Our experience doesn’t have to include a visual experience or even a voice; it may simply be a feeling. You may choose to reflect on an experience that occurred at youth camp. Take the next few moments to reflect on your own experience and bring that to mind during this service. Pause for silent reflection.
Hymn of Rejoicing
“Takwaba Uwabanga Yesu!/There’s No One Like Jesus!” CCS 121
Sing along with the vocal recording found on Community of Christ Sings
Audio Recordings. Encourage participants to sing in languages other than their own.
OR “I Will Sing, I Will Sing” CCS 112
OR “Now Sing to Our God” CCS 108
If possible, ask a youth to create and offer this prayer or use a prayer written by a youth.
If your congregation is not familiar with the words to the next hymn, sing along with the vocal recording from Community of Christ Sings Audio Recordings or listen to the recording.
“Amen, Siakudumisa!/Amen, Sing Praises to the Lord!” CCS 109
OR “Ameni” CCS 113
Disciples’ Generous Response
The offering is the act of giving of ourselves to further God’s purposes in the world. The offering gifts are symbolic of our self-offering and show our commitment to service. Our gifts should be a grateful response. We are given cause for celebration and joy as we share with others the symbols of our lives, which have been given to us by a gracious God. Let us unite our individual contributions into one gift given in joyful response to God’s great gift to us all.
—Prayers and Readings for Worship (Herald House, 1987), edited by Judy Judd, page 103, adapted
During the Disciples’ Generous Response, we focus on aligning our heart with God’s heart. Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all.
As we share our mission tithes either by placing money in the plates or through eTithing, use this time to thank God for the many gifts received in life. Our hearts grow aligned with God’s when we gratefully receive and faithfully respond by living Christ’s mission.
Blessing and Receiving of Local and Worldwide Mission Tithes
For additional ideas, see Disciples’ Generous Response Tools at www.CofChrist.org/disciples-generous-response-tools.
Hymn of Generosity To be sung during the receiving of the offering.
“From You I Receive” Sing several times. CCS 611
Encourage participants to try languages other than their own.
OR “We Lift Our Voices” CCS 618
OR “For the Life That You Have Given” CCS 619
Prayer for Peace
Light the Peace Candle.
Good Morning, God!
What is peace? I can’t know. Teach us peace with your ministers. We need peace in my home. They need peace in the schools. The countries in the world need peace.
What is peace? I can’t know. We love Jesus. We love each other. We love the church. Where is peace? I can't know. I guess we just have to keep trying to find you, God. I guess we just have to learn more. Please help us to know peace and find peace. Then I can know. Then I can help others find peace and know peace.
So, Good Morning, God. From your young peacemakers.
—Youth Class, Maryville, Missouri USA
For additional ideas, The Daily Prayer for Peace service offered at the Temple in Independence, Missouri, can be found at www.CofChrist.org/daily-prayer-for-peace.
Dramatization of the Scripture
Create a short drama of Mark 9:2-9. Use children and youth if possible. For the drama you will need actors to play Jesus, Peter, James and John, God’s voice (the voice from the cloud) and a narrator. Have the narrator read the scripture, except for Peter’s line and God’s voice. Act out the scene of the group of friends trekking up a mountain (pretend to climb, perhaps have walking sticks). Have Jesus wear a robe with white clothes underneath and take the robe off when the scripture indicates that his clothes became “dazzling white.” If possible, make a cloud prop for the person who is the voice from the cloud to hide behind.
OR Scripture Reading: Mark 9:2-9
Show a photo of an exciting event in your life, one that you would consider one your happiest times. This could be of a graduation, a wedding, a birthday celebration, or a camp experience. Share the story of this photo.
Have you ever had the feeling when you were at one of these great events of your life that you did not want it to end? Maybe it was at a camp or a reunion and you just did not want to go home. It’s normal to want to hold onto that good feeling but we all know that we have to share those beautiful moments with others. In our scripture for today the disciples had one of these great experiences. They just wanted to stay. Peter suggested putting up tents so they could stay and continue their great experience. But Jesus made it clear that they had to leave to continue their ministry.
Hymn on Transfiguration
This could be a congregational hymn or a ministry of music.
“Transform Us” CCS 569
Based on Mark 9:2-9
Hymn of Mission
“I Love to Tell the Story” CCS 370
OR “We Are the Singers Who Celebrate Jesus” CCS 352
OR “Christ, You Call Us All to Service” CCS 357
Ask a youth to create and offer this prayer or use a prayer written by a youth.
Statement of Sending Forth: Doctrine and Covenants 164:9 d, f
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?
Small-group Worship Suggestions
2 Kings 2:1–12 NRSV
The Facilitator Notes provide an overview of Sacred Space and how to use the resource to best meet ministry needs. This is a must read for first-time users.
The weekly outline and handouts provide everything needed to plan and facilitate a scripture-focused Sacred Space gathering and includes additional options such as Thoughts for Children.
Prayer for Peace
Ring a bell or chime three times slowly.
Light the peace candle.
Just as the disciples were speechless on the mountaintop, experiencing the transfiguration of your Son Jesus, sometimes words fail to express the yearnings of our heart for peace. We see your brilliance and your peace, which brings comfort for some, but where is this peace for the hungry, the refugee, the forgotten?
We’ve woven complex systems that sometimes make peace seem impossible. And yet, the disciples experienced the impossible on that mountain.
Revive us to become soothing balm for a world in pain, juicy fruit for the hungry, a comforting home for the homeless. Remind us that even when we cannot speak your peace, there is much we can do to foster peace in our neighborhoods and in our hearts.
In the name of the One who lights the way,
—Tiffany and Caleb Brian
Blessing of Loving Kindness
Today we will experience a blessing of loving kindness. I will say a phrase aloud. I invite you to silently repeat the words after each spoken phrase.
As we begin, take a few moments of quiet to center yourself. If you are comfortable doing so, close your eyes.
Allow the words of blessing to resonate in your heart and mind. I will pause at the end of each phrase so you can silently repeat the words.
May I be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May I be blessed with health. Pause.
May I be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May I be blessed with peace. Pause.
Think of someone who is beloved to you. Visualize the person as you pray. You may insert the person’s name into the prayer in your mind.
May my beloved be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with health. Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May my beloved be blessed with peace. Pause.
Now think of a close friend. Visualize the person as you pray silently.
May my friend be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May my friend be blessed with health. Pause.
May my friend be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May my friend be blessed with peace. Pause.
Think of someone with whom you are in conflict or who has harmed you. Visualize this person. Breathe deeply and lovingly pray this blessing.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with loving kindness. Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with health. Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with true happiness. Pause.
May the one who harmed me be blessed with peace. Pause.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Sharing Around the Table
2 Kings 2:1–12 NRSV
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
This is a series of events between Elijah and Elisha, his prophetic heir and spiritual son. It is a metaphor that demonstrates a deepening spiritual transformation.
On Transfiguration Sunday there is a clear connection between today’s text and the story of the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark 9. Elijah is present in both.
Elisha is following Elijah and will not leave him. Three times Elijah asks Elisha to stay, and three times Elisha refuses. Twice, the company of prophets (a group who study or follow a prophet or prophetic teachings) addresses Elisha and reminds him that Elijah will be leaving soon, and twice Elisha responds with, “Yes, I know; be silent.” This repetitive account is a way to point to the unfolding of an important or powerful event.
Throughout the text, Elisha follows with discipline and reverence. Elisha does not want to miss anything. When he is distracted by the company of prophets, he asks them to stay silent. He does not want to miss any moment he has left to learn from Elijah and encounter the Holy Spirit. Elisha understands that he is the prophetic heir to Elijah, but he is nervous and unsure of exactly what this may be.
Giving prophetic witness is hard work that makes one vulnerable to God and to the people. When Elisha asks for a double share of Elijah’s spirit, he is asking to be twice the prophet Elijah was. Elijah’s response reminds Elisha to watch for and anticipate the Divine presence. Like us, Elisha’s prophetic response is only as good as his ability to discern what God is inviting him to.
This text reminds us to be a prophetic church. We must be willing to listen to God’s invitation to us. Our mission lies at the heart of our relationship with God. Elisha and Elijah give us insight into transition and transformation in prophetic community.
- When have you felt vulnerable to God?
- How do you wrestle with doubt and uncertainty when you are unsure of where the next part of your faith journey will lead?
- What does it mean to watch for God’s presence and discern the Spirit’s invitation?
Faithful disciples respond to an increasing awareness of the abundant generosity of God by sharing according to the desires of their hearts; not by commandment or constraint.
—Doctrine and Covenants 163:9
The offering basket is available if you would like to support ongoing small-group ministries as part of your generous response.
This offering prayer is adapted from A Disciple’s Generous Response:
May our lives be transformed by your love, grace, and generosity. May our response to that love and grace be humble service to others, and may generosity be part of our nature.
Invitation to Next Meeting
Community of Christ Sings 567, “Spirit of the Living God”