Pandemic Prayers for Transfiguration Sunday

I love the transformation on this mountaintop.

I love it so much but it feels different this year as we wait for what will be.

We are waiting for what will come. We are hoping that transformation will come but it hasn’t. Not quite yet even as we are starting to ask what we will need when this is over-ish. Laura Stephens-Reed offers this wonderful reflection that landed in my email this morning when I was procrastinating on writing prayers. She offers several bits of wisdom but the one that leaped off the screen for me was the need for outside voices to understand what the church will be.

I think we’ve been struggling for years on what the church will be and we have really muddied the water on what we intend as evidenced in Bruce Springsteen praying for unity through a Super Bowl ad. Diana Butler Bass pointed out its many flaws and called us to a better middle. I’m pondering that as I try to find wonder in this present moment where things don’t feel all that different than they did 10 minutes ago.

Call to Worship
Inspired by 2 Kings 2:1-12

Stay here.
It has been a whirlwind
of confusion and wonder
but you are here. 
You are right here
in this place 
where nothing 
and everything will happen. 

Stay here.
Right here 
in this very room 
where life has unfolded
is now where God will be.
God was always here.

God never left.
God has always
been right here
with you. You have 
wanted to wander. 
You have wanted to be 
anywhere but here
but stay. Stay 
and find God
is here again. 

Maybe this is song or something similar could follow such a prayer. I love it though I admit this is one of those moments I’d rather not sing it in English.

Prayer for the Middle
Inspired by Psalm 50:1-6 and Mark 9: 2-9

Mighty One, you called
for a new day 
in the setting 
and rising of the sun.
It was good. It is good. 

We have been waiting 
for change to come.
There is no high mountain here.
We are in our living rooms
and our kitchens still. 
We go for walks
but we don't get 
to climb to new heights. 
We are not even 
sure we have the strength
but we do not want 
to stay here. We don't want 
this to be all there is
for we dream of what will be
after this is all over.

We dare to believe 
that dazzling things await us.
Somehow, we will step out 
of these dwellings after 
a year or more 
transfigured from 
what we once were,
but we are not there yet.
We are still in the middle 
of this pandemic. We are 
still waiting for the dawn 
of the new day. O God, 
show us what change
has already come. 
We pray in your hope. 
Amen.

I wrote a Transfiguration Communion a few years ago that may also inspire your worship this Sunday. That’s all I’ve got for you this week, dear pastors. I am praying for you. I am praying for you, as always.

Transfiguration Communion

J A S M I N EAfter writing this liturgy this morning, I am more convinced than ever that we should never, ever celebrate the Transfiguration of Christ without communion. Doesn’t this ritual hit all of the high notes captured in the mystery of this story?

This particular liturgy could be adopted for any cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary. I don’t think it’s too closely tied to the particular telling in the Gospel of Luke. And yet, it was written with that particular gospel in mind. As I prepare to preach, I’m thinking a whole lot about what exactly Peter and James and John saw when they saw “his glory” as revealed in verse 32. I don’t want that to be that appearance too far from the transformation that we need each and every day.

*Affirmation of Faith 886
(We will be using the Affirmation of Faith from the New Zealand Prayer Book. It is number 886 in the back of The New Century Hymnal.)

*Communion Hymn 349 I Come with Joy

Invitation to the Feast of God (Responsive)
One: Peter and John and James went up
to the mountain to pray.
All: While they were praying, their whole world changed.
They saw glory like they had never seen before.

One: You and I came to this holy place to pray.
While we are praying, here at this table,
as we share in this feast God has prepared,
All: May we see glory like we have never seen before.

Blessing and Sharing the Bread and the Cup

And so, we come to see glory.
We come to marvel at how ordinary life can seem
when we are climbing over our everyday tasks
when we don’t expect anything new or different to surprise us.

We come to remember and believe that God is always leading us.
God is always bringing us into the light of love
just as God has done from the beginning of time.
God led our ancestors out of slavery into freedom
and never tired of sending prophets that could remind us all that glory is not far away. Though we have refused to see it,
ignoring our call to care for this world and every living thing on it,
God has never given up on us. God continues this work today.
God leads us to transformative moments in holy places,
high up on a mountain and gathered here at this table,
so that we might see glory again.
The ordinary will be made extraordinary.
The common will become holy.
The familiar will become fantastic.
We come to this table again because we know we need to change.
We need new eyes and new visions and so we pray that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes and our ears and even our tastebuds as we pray:

Holy Spirit, come into this bread and this cup.
Transform these ordinary objects
As you change our hearts
To shape and form your world
With the joy you promise.
Pour your grace upon us,
so we might always see your glory.
Transform us at this table, we pray.

In our hope of transformation, we remember how it first happened. Long, long ago before the terrible events that would follow had come to pass, Jesus our Christ gathered with his friends in an upper room…

(Use the words of institution from your own tradition.)

*Prayer of Thanksgiving (Unison)

Holy God, we have tasted the light of your love
and seen your glory at this table. Now,
transform us to find your glory
in everyone and everything. This we pray in
the light of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.