Sunday Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback. Transfiguration and Lent -14 February 2021

Greetings in Jesus’ name!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sermon: Revd Andrew Warmback

Prayers: Lindiwe Rakharebe

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Ash Wednesday services are at 7.00, 13.00 and 18.00

Sermon by Revd Andrew Warmback. Introduction: Transfiguration and Lent

It is interesting that we have the Transfiguration of Jesus just before we start Lent this week.

The Transfiguration is a story of going up a mountain to withdraw.

It echoes other times in which Jesus withdrew to the dessert or other places to be alone, to be with God, to pray.

In Lent we have an opportunity to do the same.

Times of drawing aside, times of quiet are important for spiritual growth, very important I would say.

The length and frequency of these times depends on personal circumstances and factors like personality.

It’s not that God does not speak to us to us in the hurley burley of life. God does.

What is important is that we consciously make time for quiet reflection and prayer.

Changed by God

Jesus’ goes up the mountain with three of his close disciples: Peter, James and John in the presence too of Elijah and Moses, representative of the prophets and the law.

On the mountain top Jesus is transfigured, or changed.
We are changed in God’s presence, in surprising and unexpected ways.
The part of the story that that interests me today is God speaking from the cloud:
Love
“This is my son the beloved, listen to him.”
The words are very similar to the ones we heard when Jesus was baptised. God affirms Jesus’ identity and authority. Listen to him; obey him; do what you see him doing.

Most importantly we hear that Jesus is loved. This is my child, the beloved.
Words we long to hear.
Works we need to hear.
You are the Beloved.
You are the Beloved.
This is us, this is our essence.

We have experienced an extraordinary year of anxiety and depression, loss and death, probably not known before on this scale by most of us.

Our world has changed. We need the assurance, the affirmation that we are still loved by God, that we are indeed the Beloved.

We hear so much to the contrary, that we are not good enough, we don’t look good, we are worthless.

In his book, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World Henri Nouwen writes “[t]hese negative voices are so loud and so persistent that it is easy to believe them. That’s the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection. Over the years I have come to realise that the greatest trap in our live is not success , popularity and power but self- rejection….

I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give into the temptation. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I feel myself thinking: “Well that proves again that I am a nobody.” Instead of taking a critical look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others’ limitations, I tend to blame myself – not just or what I did but for who I am. My dark side says I am not good….I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected and abandoned.”

Remember we are the Beloved, You are the Beloved.

Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air. Love is to be celebrated, freely given and received, in the same way in which God loves us.

However, whenever we talk about love and relationships we are all too aware that love can be distorted and become manipulative and abusive, that not everyone is treated as the Beloved.

This past year has certainly highlighted the scourge of Gender Based Violence, which has risen dramatically during the pandemic.
Around the world there have been people speaking out in support of a world free of rape and Gender Based Violence. Recently I came across two of these voices

Larissa Garcia, from Brazil, an ambassador for the international Thursdays in Black campaign has said: “For centuries we have romanticised the hardships and violence one must endure to be in a relationship… It can be seen in idioms, literature and all sorts of media. However love is kind, supportive and respectful! This Valentine’s Day, may you seek love that heals and that is truthful.”

Another ambassador for this campaign, Rev. Damon Mkandawire, who is a hospital administrator in Zambia, adds his voice: “You have probably heard a lot of people say that ‘love hurts’—and we all tend to follow the crowd and believe that ‘love hurts’— this isn’t true…. This Valentine’s Day and beyond, remember that love doesn’t hurt you. A person that doesn’t know how to love hurts you. Don’t get it twisted. Love is an extraordinary thing.”

Lent focus: GBV

It was in August last year – Women’s Month – that most of our preachers chose to speak about Gender Based Violence.

This Lent the Archbishop has asked all parishes to focus on Gender Based Violence. A special Lent Bible Study Course has been developed on this theme called “Living Holy and Healthy relationships”. We will use it in our parish over Zoom on Wednesday evenings from 18.00, starting on 24 February.

Observing Lent

Decide now how you will spend Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday this week. I say each year that the season of Lent is a gift to us; let use it well.
Let us continue to reflect on God’s love for us and all creation, a love that transfigures us and all that is distorted and broken. May we deepen our understanding of being Beloved.

Let us express our love for God by building mutually loving and trusting relationship with others, relationships that bring us joy, but let us not be silent when we discover abuse.

May God bless you richly on your Lenten Journey.

Amen

PRAYERS by Lindiwe Rakharebe

Let us pray
Almighty God, Our Heavenly Father, you have taught us to pray and to give thanks for all people.
Receive our prayers for the universal Church, that it may know the power of your spirit and that all your children may agree in the truth of your holy word and live in unity and Godly love.

We pray for your servants Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, our Vicar General, Dean Ndabezinhle Sibisi, Father Andrew Warmback and all other ministers of your word and sacraments, that by their life and teaching, your glory may be revealed and all nations drawn to you.

Eternal God, Father of everlasting mercy, we come to you today with our open and humble hearts.

We give you hearty thanks for all your goodness and loving kindness to us and all people.

Father, we thank you for giving us another chance to see our families, for preserving our lives and for protecting us against this horrendous coronavirus. We thank you for keeping us strong and standing up until now-It is not by our knowledge or power but indeed by your Holy Spirit. We call upon you to heal all those who are sick in hospital and at home. Heal their body, mind and spirit for by Your Stripes they are Healed. We pray that you continue to preserve us for your glory. Lord, remember our loved one’s that we have lost recently through Covid-19, they have gone to rest in the hope of rising again, bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence.

Heavenly Father, we have experienced unusual different weather across the country lately but by Your Grace we were saved. It is your Grace that has kept us through this challenging period and throughout the changing seasons. Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:39)

Your Grace is sufficient for us Lord.

You are always with us and now we are here to bring you the praise for Grace.

Dear Lord, please fill us with your Grace to love and forgive those you have placed in our lives.

Clothe us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

Almighty God, we are grateful for your love, we are grateful for your mercies and that you have saved us. We are grateful for your favour upon us, we thank you for your anointing power which breaks every yoke and moves us into freedom and blessing. We love you Lord, may our love for you grow deeper and wider each day. Guide our steps and lead us in the way we should go. Bless our fellowship today through the power of love, unite us. Holy Spirit, guide us and order our steps.

Guide our thoughts to know and do your will. Bind us together with love.
We love you Lord.
We adore you Lord.
You alone are God. We thank you for this amazing love that you have given us.

You are a loving God who is always protecting, guiding and helping us to attain a purposeful life.
We sing your praises today because you are good and your love endures forever. (Psalm 100:5)
Give us the spirit of wisdom and discernment to make choices that honour and glorify you today.
Your love compares with no other. Your love is unconditional, Your love is kind and patient.

We bless you for our creation and preservation and for all the blessings of this life but above all for your love-in redeeming the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace and for the hope of glory. Lord give us a due sense of your mercy that our hearts may be thankful and that we may praise you not only with our lips but in our lives by giving up ourselves to your service and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days, through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray.

Amen.

 

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account: Account Name: St Paul’s Church Account Number: 50854628623 Bank: First National Bank (FNB) Branch Code: 221426