Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Preaching: Rev. Lee Spice
Co-Presiding: Rev. Erin Klassen
Theme: Do You Not Know, Have You Not Heard? Have You Been Listening All This Time?
The coffee is hot at 10:00am, come in and get comfortable. Service begins at 10:30 and is followed by coffee and conversation in the Memorial Hall.
Come and explore what we are being called to. Are you listening?
This Sunday's service is also our Annual General Meeting. A friendly reminder: if you make a motion, you get your name in the minutes and you will be able to remember that you attended! Have your say on the work and life of YOUR church!
Transfiguration Sunday/AGM Sunday
February 11, 2018
Rev. Lee Spice
Every year, the church celebrates what we call “Transfiguration Sunday.” It’s a rather bizarre image that the scripture relates, about a motley crew of disciples following Jesus up a mountain, and then seeing the body of Jesus transformed with the glowing presence of God, and seeing Jesus standing there with Moses and Elijah – the two great figures representing the Law and the Prophets of their Jewish faith.
Every year, we hear how Peter wants to build some shrines up there. It is a beautiful moment to be remembered...but Jesus will have nothing of that. They descend the mountain to their lives below, and Jesus holds them to secrecy...his work is not yet to be revealed, and so they must only carry the moment in their hearts.
This Sunday, I find myself thinking about the shining moments of the church. You know, those moments of our life together when we, the Body of Christ, light up with the presence of God... Oh, there are a great many of them... this year, and in previous years... For the wider church, as well as for ours, right here.
The greater world of the Protestant Church has been celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation...when Martin Luther began the process of relinquishing the common people from their separation from God and the scriptures ... a separation perpetrated by their own church. A shining moment in the life of the church.
And do you remember some of the shining moments in our own United Church of Canada? Decisions in 1988 that showed that we were on our way to the work of inclusion and full participation for the LGBTQ2* communities. And, hopefully, the work begun so many years ago towards apology, reconciliation and right relationship with Indigenous people will be seen as a shining moment, even if it was in response to the wrongs perpetrated by the church.
Do you remember some of the shining moments even in this past year, right here? The gala, the fall fair...and some stunning moments in worship - times when the music of the choir touched so many hearts, and the voices and virtuosity of the soloists and instrumentalists rang with the presence of God and transported the listeners to a holy place. Do you remember times like these?
The times of prayer, when we bring our joys and sorrow before God, and the joyful moment when the children capture some of the light to take with them, and the word proclaimed by preachers from this pulpit...do you remember these shining moments?
I remember one shining moment when a fire down the hill displaced some families, and the church was opened up as a place of hospitality and and place for the emergency agencies to begin their work.
They are moments to be captured and remembered...but they all point to one thing...the shining presence of The Holy in our midst.
It is tempting, always, to dwell in these moments. But as much as the church treasures them, we can't stay there.
What Jesus knew, as he urged the reluctant disciples down the mountain, is that building a monument up there might be a trap. It might only serve to keep them trapped in the past, reliving the shiny moments, and, essentially, keeping them from their own ministry, with the people, at the bottom of the mountain.
Recently, Ron and I took a whirlwind vacation to London, County Kent, and Canterbury, in England. The next slide is on the inside of Canterbury Cathedral...one of the few cathedrals that allow you to take photographs on the inside. The work in these cathedrals is stunning. Glorious moments of architecture that make one's heart soar, like the rising domes in the ceilings. We went to a sung Evensong at Westminster Abbey and a sung Eucharist at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, and the voices rising in those spaces were moments of exquisite beauty.
But even the beauty of those spaces is not meant to keep you there. Soon, the wardens of the church gently invited the gape-mouthed crowds to leave, and we found ourselves out in the dreary weather once again. Like Jesus' disciples, we were out where the people are.
Jesus did not want those shining moments to be a trap.
One of our days in England, we planned a visit to the Tower of London. It wasn't so much the tower or even the Crown Jewels that I was excited about. We had read that there was a colony of ravens that lived there. In my rather naive thinking, I imagined these ravens walking around the yards, getting up and leaving for the wilds, only to return every day to the adoring crowds. Of course, this is what we found (next slide).
The legend is that, if the ravens were to leave, the monarchy would fall, so they don't take any chances. When the birds are let out of the cage, they can't fly away, because their wings have been clipped.
Oh, they are well-taken care of...they have their own keeper, and they are fed and treated well, and they are loved and even coddled, but they will never be free. Oh, how many times the church has built its own cages, with all the best intentions.
And, yes, by dwelling in the past, the church runs the risk of building lovely, comfortable cages, even for ourselves.
Jesus did not want the shining moments to be a trap...As beautiful as our own shimmering church moments are...As awesome as the soaring voices and precious moments feed our souls and bring us joy, the church cannot allow an appreciation of the past to be the very thing that clips our wings...that builds our cage.
And so, on this Sunday where we look back at our church year, it is time to remember, with joy, that God is with us, and to savour those exquisite moments when the Body of Christ shone with the presence of God,
And it is time to descend the mountain, to where the people are... to where the work is.
It is time to look forward to other moments, knowing they will come, because, beloved church, God's holy presence wants us to fly.
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