Let Us Worship Together!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, February 26 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, February 27 at 8:00 am (simple service) and 10:30 am (traditional with choir and/or organ music). The Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30 am services will will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to email@example.com.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
Although Virginia’s mitigation measures ended (read more here), Our Saviour will keep a “safer zone” in the back section of the nave that will remain marked for masks.
Altar Flowers for this weekend’s services were donated in celebration of the 47th wedding anniversary of Deborah and Jerry Hoke!
If you would like to sponsor altar flowers in memory, honor or celebration of a loved one or special date, please sign up on the chart on the bulletin board in the church office hallway or call the church office at (540) 347-3224 with your information.
Saturday 4:00 pm — High School Youth Group — H.S. Youth Group will resume meeting on Saturdays at 4 pm next week (March 5).
Sunday 8:00 am — First Light Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages (including adults)
Readings and Psalms:
2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2
Transfiguration of Our Lord (Last Sunday after Epiphany), Year C
Exodus 34:29-35. Psalm 99. 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2. Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]
Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Warrenton, VA. The Reverend Terri Luper Church
Transformed by Association
I still remember the look on our child’s face. We had been pastors here for just a few weeks, starting a week after School ended. So, our five-year-old was already used to exploring the building while we were in meetings and all those other things pastors do—this big empty building.
But then it came for Vacation Bible School. If you know anything about this congregation (pre-Covid that is!), you know that we tend to go all out for VBS. On more than one occasion I have met a young person who asks, “Where is your church?” And when I say, “Next to P.B. Smith Elementary” they shout “Oh! The one with the best Vacation Bible School?!” Yeah, we like our VBS. A crew of about 50 volunteer staff of all ages lead up to 100 children in drama, arts and crafts, active games, music, and Bible study, and it is awesome to experience. However, I think we have two things that really make a difference: one, the obvious one, we feed them, including fresh-from-the-oven rolls! And the second is the way we transform our spaces.
Okay. Back to 2013, when our little pastors’ kid got dragged to church early for that first day of VBS. As we walked through the narthex into the fellowship hall, I turned to see my child’s eyes grow to at least twice their size and a huge smile cross their face as they said, “Oh, WOW!” Suddenly, we were in Ancient Greece! Mary Lydic and Mike Burkholder and a whole bunch of others had taken our rather bland hall and completely transfigured it! It was incredible!
It is amazing, the power that visible, physical change can have. Peter, James, and John certainly got to experience their own “Oh wow” moment as we just heard in that reading from the Gospel of Luke. Those disciples had been with him while he healed the sick, calmed the sea, and challenged the way things were done. They had also just experienced Jesus feeding thousands of people with five loaves and two fish! So, they probably thought they would never see anything bigger or better than that. And then, Jesus takes them up on a mountain to pray.
Prayer works, you may recall me saying, and I truly believe it. God listens when we pray and promises to be with us no matter what we face. Sure, I know—it is not always obvious just how God listens. However, we will have to talk more about that another time, because now we need to talk about the power of knowing that prayers are heard. Sometimes—especially when we slow down and get still for a bit—we can even see clear evidence of God’s answer. My friends, this story is a moment where God’s actions were completely clear.
Peter, John, and James have gone with Jesus up on that mountain to pray. They must have been up there a while because these friends either fell asleep or came really close. While Jesus was praying, a miracle happened: his appearance changed—his face, his clothes—and he was glowing! It just gets better when Moses and Elijah and talked with him. Oh, wow!!!
Fortunately, the friends did not miss this amazing moment for Jesus—but it was soon made clear that a moment for Jesus. Jesus was talking with these great leaders about “his departure” which is code for his death. Jesus needed guidance and support, so he prayed. And God answered.
The disciples were not invited to chat with Moses and Elijah. In fact, these guests were about to leave when Peter blunders in with an offer to build tents for them. A nice thought, perhaps, or a desperate plea to explain why ordinary people like them were allowed to be present for this theophany. Whatever Peter intended, God answered that this was NOT what was needed, as a voice from heaven spoke from a cloud that appeared out of nowhere and surrounded them. And that voice was clear—what they needed was to know who Jesus was. “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Then the cloud dispersed, the guests left, Jesus returned to normal, and they all headed back down the mountain.
After this moment, Jesus is clearer about his mission on earth—it is time for him to begin his path to the cross and the empty tomb, and you can feel the sense of that shift. Yes, this mystical experience was to help Jesus, and help him it did.
And yet, were the three friends untouched by the experience? No. It is almost as if they were transformed by association with this answer to prayer. I’m not saying that the disciples suddenly got everything right from this point on. I’m not. They didn’t. However, they were able to take the lead when it mattered most—after Jesus ascended into heaven. When the Holy Spirit descended as divided tongues of fire at Pentecost, Peter knew how to tell the story of Jesus and get the church up and running.
My friends, when you have a moment with God, you are changed, transformed, and yes, sometimes even transfigured! Have you ever seen someone almost glowing after a holy moment? I have, and I told it at the beginning of this sermon. My child’s face was changed that day, and it kept going throughout the week and in many VBS and youth events that followed. Many of those children who come to our VBS each year are transformed, touched by God in some unique way. And through those holy moments, they are able to allow others to be transformed by association as well—they pass it on.
Perhaps you have been transformed by an encounter with God at some point in your life, and maybe you wish to have another holy moment. Or maybe you haven’t had that transforming experience. Either way, we have some opportunities for you to encounter the Holy One. This coming Ash Wednesday we begin our Lenten pilgrimage with the church across the world. Together—and separately—we can use this season to deepen our faith.
· Just as Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, so some of us will set our face to that old, rugged cross in adult Bible study or in private devotions.
· Just as Peter, John, and James passed the message on in worship, so we will gather for worship on the weekend and add Holden Evening Prayer in during the week.
· Just as they were told to listen to Jesus, we have Lenten Meditation mornings to help you learn to listen to him.
· Just as the gospel writers experienced the story of Jesus and made it alive for others, so will our Sunday School teachers and youth leaders pass it on.
· Just as those early Christians prepared for baptism with special classes during Lent, so will our 5th graders and older youth prepare for the Maundy Thursday Communion Blessing.
· And through all of that, the story of God’s unfailing, miraculous love goes on and on. We are changed, and our transfiguration is caught by others, so they encounter Jesus directly and are changed, and so on, and so on.
And perhaps, God is calling you to pass it on as well. Would you take some time to pray with God about a very specific mission? Would you consider joining Our Saviour’s Vacation Bible School leadership team? You won’t be alone, and you will change lives.
I’ll close with one important thing: our walk of faith is indeed filled with some glorious moments, but it is also filled with pain, worries, and plenty of unknowns. And sometimes it is filled with more to do than you think you can manage. If that long list of Lenten things to do just stresses you out, or if this idea of VBS puts a weight on your shoulders, maybe you shouldn’t do them. Sometimes we are transformed by rest. Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy, and his burden is light, so take a cue from that voice in the cloud and listen to him! And don’t worry about the work getting done, for it is God who provides the resources we need. However you enter Lent, remember: each and every one of you is precious in the eyes of God, unique, and loved, all the time, through the transforming love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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