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March 2, 2003

Prayer of the Day
align="justify">Almighty God, on the mountain you showed your glory in the transfiguration of your Son. Give us the vision to see beyond the turmoil of our world and to behold the king in all his glory; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen


O God, in the transfiguration of your Son you confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the witness of Moses and Elijah, and in the voice from the bright cloud you foreshadowed our adoption as your children. Make us with the king heirs of your glory, and bring us to enjoy its fullness, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

2 Kings 2:1-12
{1} Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. {2} 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. {3} 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." {4} 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. {5} 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." {6} 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. {7} Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. {8} 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. {9} 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." {10} 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." {11} 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. {12} 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.

    The Elijah-Elisha stories (1Kings 17-2 Kings 10) reflect the prophetic opposition to the dynasty of Omri in the northern kingdom.
1. about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind: Properly, the whirlwind. "…the writer is alluding to a well-known tradition regarding the translation of Elijah." [1]The reference anticipates the actual translation in verse 11.
Gilgal: Probably not the national shrine between Jericho and the Jordan. It is a common name meaning, "stone circle." "The one here denoted is generally located about eight miles north of  Bethel." [2]
2-6: Before Elijah is taken up by God into heaven he makes a final visit to the prophetic communities at Bethel, Jericho, and the Jordan.
8. crossed on dry ground: Elijah and Elisha reverse the crossing of the Jordan by the Israelites under Joshua, and re-enter the wilderness, so that Elisha would enter the land from the wilderness, symbolic of the beginning of a new period in the history of the northern kingdom.
9. let me inherit a double share of your spirit: "Elisha in asking for a double portion of the spirit which inspired Elijah was not seeking to excel his master, but to receive the double portion which by Hebrew law (Deut. 12:17) was the share of the eldest son. Elisha wished to be recognized and equipped as the true successor of Elijah." Elisha is not asking for more spirit than Elijah had, but for only a fraction of what he had. The transfer of authority from Elijah to Elisha is a fulfillment of Yahweh’s instructions in 1 Kings 19:16. [3]
10. You have asked a hard thing: In Mark 10:38, Jesus is asked to put James and John on his right and left hands in the kingdom. He says that is not his to grant. That’s what Elijah is saying here. If it is Yahweh’s will that Elisha will receive the double portion of his spirit, then he will.
11. a chariot of fire and horses of fire…whirlwind: Elijah disappears in a whirlwind to the accompaniment of noise and fire. "…Elijah is the only biblical personality of whom it is said that he ‘ascended to heaven in a storm’ (vv. 1, 11). By utilizing this image, the prophet’s followers invested him with the quality of eternal life, surpassing even Moses, the father of all prophets, who died and was buried (albeit by God himself: Deut 34:5-6)." [4]
12. Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!: Properly, "My father, my father:" "…it has long been recognized that this [father] is a leading prophet’s honorific title," [5] Four explanations of the reference to chariots and horsemen occur to me: 1) Elisha is referring to the vision of a chariot and horses of fire which appeared to separate him from Elijah (2 Kings 2:11). [6] 2) This is an expression which one says when a prophet dies (or is translated). See 2 Kings 13:14 where the same expression is uttered when Elisha died. 3) This is a title for Elijah or, more likely, Elisha who had more to do with military matters that Elisha. [7] 4) The reference could be to phenomena associated with a tornado, if one prefers a naturalistic explanation.
clothes and tore them in two pieces: A sign of mourning (Genesis 37:34; 2 Samuel 13:31; Job 1:20).
    The story continues with Elisha assuming the mantel of Elijah, striking the Jordan river with it to divide it, recrossing the Jordan into Israel, and reluctantly permitting the prophets of Jericho to search for Elijah because they thought that "the spirit of the Lord has caught him up and thrown him down on some mountain or into some valley" (2 Kings 2:16). Yahweh promised to send the prophet Elijah before the day of Yahweh comes (Malachi 4:5).

Psalm 50:1-6
{1} The mighty one, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. {2} Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. {3} Our God comes and does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, and a mighty tempest all around him. {4} He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: {5} "Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!" {6} The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah

    The Psalm is in the "Elohistic Psalter;" see the comments on the Psalm for Epiphany 3. Psalms 50, 81 and 95 belong together as "great festival psalms," which were used in a festival of covenant renewal. [8]
1. The mighty one, God the Lord
: Literally, El Elohim YHWH: "God, God, Yahweh." A piling up of names of God, similar to Joshua 22:22.
the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting: "The whole earth hears the call of Yahweh."
2. Out of Zion
: Yahweh shines forth from the Temple on Mount Zion.
3. a devouring fire…a mighty tempest: The theophany in Jerusalem is like that on Sinai. Fire and wind also accompanied the ascension of Elijah in the first lesson.
4-6: God has called the whole earth before him. Now he calls the heavens and the earth as witnesses as he judges his people, "my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice." The heavens testify to God’s righteousness.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
{3} And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. {4} In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. {5} For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. {6} For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

3. our gospel is veiled: When Moses descended from Mt. Sinai where he had gone to receive the commandments from Yahweh, Aaron and the Israelites were afraid to come near him because his face "shone." So he had to veil his face (Exodus 34:29-33). Paul is accused of "veiling" or concealing of the Gospel. In his response he asserts that it is only veiled to those who are blinded by the world, his accusers.
4. the god of this world: Although Paul uses this phrase only here, similar phrases are used in the New Testament: "rulers of this world," 1 Corinthians 2:6, 8; "the ruler of this world," John 12:31; 14:30; 16:1. Paul’s accusers are under the power of the god of this world, Satan.
Christ, who is the image of God: This assertion also occurs in Colossians 1:15 (see also 1 Corinthians 11:7). In Genesis 1:26-27 God determines to create humanity "in my image." Christ, as the image of God, is the visible manifestation of the deity, while we are a mere reflection of his glory. Christ shines with the light of the gospel and gives "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." Christ is the image of God by nature, we, by God’s decision.
5. we do not proclaim ourselves: Paul disavows any egotistical motive for his preaching. See 1 Corinthians 9:16-17).
6. Let light shine out of darkness: A reference to the first act of creation in Genesis 1:3. "The (oj elamyen ktl. [hos elampsen "who has shone, etc."])…refers to Paul’s conversion…. For this reason en taij kardiaij hmwn [en tais kardiais hemon "in our hearts"] cannot apply to Christians as such (in that case they would have to be viewed under the aspect of cooperating also in the spread of the gospel), but only to Paul himself, or to Paul and his co-workers." [9]
the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ: Christ is the image of God, so God’s glory shines in the face of Christ. (see John 1:14).

Mark 9:2-9
{2} Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, {3} and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. {4} And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. {5} Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." {6} He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. {7} Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" {8} Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. {9} As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

2. Six days later: "No other temporal statement in Mk outside the Passion Narrative is so precise. As it stands the reference is to Peter’s confession." [10] Luke 9:28 says it was "about eight days after these sayings." Eight days is also the period of time between Jesus birth and circumcision. Both six days and eight days may be a reference to the passage of a week.
Peter, James and John: These three disciples are frequently with Jesus, Mark 5:37; 13:3; 14:33. They form an inner circle within the group of disciples.
transfigured…dazzling white: The Greek for "transfigured" is metamorpheo from which our word "metamorphosis". On the mountain Jesus is transfigured and his clothes become dazzling white (in Matthew and Luke Jesus’ face also changes. Although the details of the image are different the similarity to the shining of Moses’ faces is clear.
4. Elijah with Moses: Elijah and Moses are representatives of the law and the prophets, the sacred writings of what we call the Old Testament (although Elijah is not a writing prophet). "Their very presence with Jesus is a sign that He is the Messiah." [11]
6. He did not know what to say, for they were terrified: Peter, struck with awe in the presence of the supernatural, is so overwhelmed by his experience that he doesn’t know what to say.
7. a cloud overshadowed them: "Mark…appears to think of the cloud as the vehicle of God’s presence." [12]
from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him": The voice repeats publicly the words of the voice Jesus heard when he was baptized (Mark 1:11), and adds the admonition, "Listen to him!"
9. he ordered them to tell no one: The disciples have just been instructed to "Listen to him!" Now Jesus tells them to tell no one until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Of course, after Jesus had risen, "they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid" (Mark 16:8).

The lessons reflect the awesome power that accompanies those who are charged with responsibility for proclaiming God’s word. Elijah can divide a river with his cloak. So can Elisha. The ends of the earth, fire and wind, heaven and earth witness the judgment of the faithful. Paul speaks a word that is concealed to those whose minds are in bondage to the powers of the world, but light to those who are enlightened. On the Mountain of the Transfiguration Jesus is seen in his heavenly appearance accompanied by Elijah, who ascended into heaven, and Moses, who was buried by Yahweh.
    With Jesus’ entry into the world, earth and heaven, separated both physically and spiritually are reunited. In the Transfiguration the disciples hear a voice from heaven telling them what it had told Jesus at the baptism, "This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him." Those words are addressed to us as well. To listen to Jesus means more than to hear the words he says. In him we see the light of the Gospel, he reveals to us the glory of God.

Hymns [13]
With One Voice (e.g. 762v), Hymnal Supplement 1991 (e.g. 725s) and LBW (e.g. 32).
E=Entrance; D=Hymn of the Day; I=First Lesson, P=Psalm; II=Second Lesson; G=Gospel

265 --E--Christ, Whose Glory
80 --D--Oh, Wondrous
89 --D--How Good, Lord,
654v --D--Alleluia, Song of
400 --II--God, Whose

518 --G--Beautiful Savior
653v --G--Jesus on the (735s)
651v --G--Shine, Jesus
77, 526, 536, 785s

Prayers of the People [14]
A: With the Presentation and Transfiguration of our Lord, we reach the height of the Epiphany season and the grand manifestation of Christ. We pray, "God, by whom we go from strength to strength, from faith to faith," and respond,
C: Lead us on.
A: For the church, that as the sun returns in the far north, so may those in the service of ecumenism be called once more to the prospect of one body in Christ. God, by whom we go from strength to strength, from faith to faith.
C: Lead us on.
A: For the members of the Legislative Assembly of our province of ___________________, that they may serve with high purpose, to the end that social inequities may be removed and all citizens may prosper. God, by whom we go from strength to strength from faith to faith.
C: Lead us on.
A: For those suffering from natural disasters, that they may be kept from absolute ruin and complete despair, and such relief and consolation given, that hope may revive. God, by whom we go from strength to strength, from faith to faith.
C: Leadus on.
A: For those in the embrace of consumerism: save all from that which soils self and drains away life. Grant a renewed vision of the transfigured Jesus. God, by whom we go from strength to strength, from faith to faith.
C: Lead us on.
P: Our desire is for a transfigured church that will captivate the multitude that remains in a dark world of unbelief. May it so be, gracious God.
C: Amen.

Or [15]

Presider or deacon
Let us offer prayers to the Holy One, whose glory is a raging storm, a consuming fire, a dazzling light.
Deacon or other leader
For the holy catholic church throughout the world, sharing the death and resurrection of Christ.
For N our bishop, for presbyters and deacons and all who minister in Christ,
and for all the people of God.
For all the nations and peoples of the earth, and for justice, mercy, and peace.
For all who are needy, desolate, forgotten, suffering, lonely, and disconsolate.
For the dying and the dead, and for those who mourn.
That all the world may reflect the splendor of God and all peoples share in the divinity of Christ.
Blessed are you, God of light eternal.
Hear our prayers for all peoples and let your glory shine upon us, that our lives may proclaim your goodness and our works give you honor.
Glory to you for ever and ever.

[1] John Gray, I & II Kings: A Commentary, Second, Fully Revised, Edition. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1970, p. 474.
[2] Loc. cit.
[3] Ibid., 475.
[4] Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmor, II Kings: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1988, pp. 33-34.
[5] James G. Williams, “The Prophetic ‘Father’, A Brief Explanation of the term ‘Sons of the Prophets’,” Journal of Biblical Literature 85(1966)344.
[6] T.R. Hobbs, 2 Kings. Waco, Texas: Word Books, Publisher, 1985, p. 22.
[7] Gray, Ibid., p. 476.
[8] Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1-59: A Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1988, pp. 490-491.
[9] Rudolf Bultmann, The Second Letter to the Corinthians, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1985, p.108.
[10] Vincent Taylor, The Gospel according to St. Mark, London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1955, p. 388.
[11] Ibid., p. 390
[12] Ibid., p. 391.