February 14, 2021

God;s Beloved
Bradenton-Sarasota Congregation Online Worship
February 14, 2021

Welcome and Call to Worship

We greet you in this virtual setting in the name of the one who is universal and present in all of life’s situations, even Jesus the Christ. This is the last Sunday of Epiphany prior to entering the Lenten season. It is also designated as Youth Ministries Day. Take a moment to consider a time in your youth when you truly felt God’s presence and had what some refer to as a God moment or a mountaintop experience. It is that moment when God’s presence is felt and known. Today’s scripture focuses on the disciples’ mountaintop experience during the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Our experience doesn’t have to include a visual experience or even a voice; it may simply be a feeling. Reflect on an experience that occurred at youth camp or during a Sunday School experience or a church service. May it remind you of the blessings we receive in community and through continuing revelation of God’s Spirit in our lives. Welcome to this time together as we worship and reflect on those blessings from the past, the present and anticipation for the future.

Collectively and individually, you are loved with an everlasting love that delights in each faithful step taken. God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed, emptiness filled, and hope strengthened.

Do not turn away in pride, fear, or guilt from the One who seeks only the best for you and your loved ones. Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to divine grace. — Doctrine & Covenants 163:10a,b

A Hymn of Inclusion – “Draw the Circle Wide” – CCS 273

Opening Prayer

Gracious and beloved God, we come together in contemplation and worship this day, inviting Your Spirit to bless and encourage us to be transformative disciples of the Lord Jesus in whose name we pray.

ScriptureMark 9:2-10 – The Transfiguration

An Object Lesson for Youth (and adults as well) by High Priest Joyce Keenan

Good morning – I have a little test for you today – a reading test. Here are some letters that spell a word that I’m pretty sure you will know:

M  O  M

That’s right, M-O-M spells “mom,” but are you sure that’s what these letters really spell? What if it is turned over?

Arrow  Hmm…Now those same letters spell:

W  O  W

Just by turning the paper in another direction we have a whole different word. It’s the same paper and ink – but we’re seeing it in whole new way.

Have you ever seen something so surprising, so beautiful, or so exciting that you could hardly believe your eyes?

Maybe a double rainbow that arches across the sky. The glistening colors so beautiful and dazzling that you can only exclaim, “Wow!”

Something similar happens in this week’s Gospel lesson. Several of the disciples are with Jesus up a high mountain when all of a sudden, they see him in a new and different way. His clothes suddenly become a dazzling white and then a cloud covers the mountain top and they hear the voice of God explaining that “This is my beloved Son…Listen to him!” WOW!

There’s a special name for this in the Bible. We call this the transfiguration. After the cloud lifted, Jesus body, face and clothes still looked the same as before, but like with our “mom” sign, suddenly the disciples are able to see him in a whole new way: as the Son of God to whom they should listen.

That is good advice for us today and every day. This is Jesus, listen to him!

Message by High Priest Joyce Keenan

As I read our scripture today, I found myself thinking about relationships. Isaiah 63:16 identifies God as our Father. Christ at his baptism, and again during this transfiguration, is named by God as his Son. In Matthew, Christ describes all who do the will of God as “my brother, sister and mother.”

How are we members of Christ’s family? Christ says by doing the will of God. How do we know what that is, exactly? During the transfiguration, God announced, “LISTEN to him.” In his last lessons before going to the cross, Jesus said the two things that matter most: Love God and Love one another.

“Listen to him!” God says. There is a sermon in these words. We listen to so many voices today, seeking to instruct and influence us—pundits, columnists, commentators, political analysts, religious gurus, celebrities, the list goes on. They tell us who is right and who is wrong and who deserves our admiration and who deserves our scorn.

For the most part, they steal our peace and take our attention away from what matters most, the mission of Jesus Christ. The voice from the cloud says there is just one we should pay attention to, the one we can always trust Jesus. Peter wanted to build three tabernacles, one to Moses, one to Elijah and one to Jesus. When he voiced that, the Cloud covered the mountain and God spoke. If we read between the lines, we know that God is telling Peter, “NO! Moses and Elijah were important, but they are NOT on the same plane as Jesus. Jesus is above all, Jesus is my beloved Son, Listen to him!”

These are stressful times, and many are feeling depressed. Sadly, suicide rates are high, distressingly high among young people.

There was a time, as a younger person, that I experienced a period of stress and depression. I can recall vividly thinking, “What is the use of continuing on?” As I gave more and more consideration to ending it all, God’s spirit reached out to me and words from my Evangelist blessing came into my mind. They were, “Continue on through life and you will walk in the sunshine.” Continue on through life! I changed my mind. I listened and my life has unfolded in amazing and wonderful ways.

“Listen to him!” What are the ways in which we can listen to Jesus? As a youth, I was a Girl Scout. Their motto is “Be Prepared.” This is good advice for us as we seek to hear what God would say to us. We can prepare to listen in various ways.

Withdrawal: Not only in today’s passage, but in numerous others, Jesus withdrew into nature…the desert, the garden, the mountaintop… to be away from the distractions of the world to communicate through prayer to God. It would be nice if you could do that, but it is possible to withdraw right in your own home. Give yourself a time of silence.

Prayer: This is an important way to prepare to listen.

It is well documented in Scripture that Jesus prayed often. A question for consideration today is how has prayer or participation in a spiritual discipline helped you understand and appreciate your relationship to God?

I hope I don’t shock you, but as I consider my personal prayers, I feel like I am not very good at it. That doesn’t stop me from daily praying and I believe God knows what is in my heart, but often I get “off-track.” I hear others pray and marvel at their words and insight, so to help myself, I will read others’ prayers and recite thoughtfully prayers like The Lord’s Prayer, the 23rd Psalm, and also the Mission Prayer.

Interestingly, each of those prayers contain the word, “Lead.” So, to answer the question of how prayer or participation in a spiritual practice helped me to understand and appreciate my relationship to God, I would say that it is emphasized to me that God leads and I am to follow. God leads us through his spirit and through the example of the life of Christ. I endeavor to follow those examples. It is the way that I “Listen to him” and listening includes hearkening or obeying Him. My life is so much better as a result.

There are many people who regret not listening to Jesus. Do you know one who is sorry for having listened?

As we listen to Jesus and then follow his example of leaving the mountain top, we descend into the everyday world of work and responsibility and commerce and ordinary people. Life is messy, but God calls us to live in the midst of the mess—to live there in faith—to be beacons of faith.

Listen to him and you cannot be discouraged. Listen to him and know that God is leading the way, His promises are sure. Believe and follow.

A Hymn of Assurance – “Standing On The Promises” – CCS #257

A Prayer for Peace – Youth Class, Maryville, Missouri

Good Morning, God!

What is peace? I can’t know. Teach us peace with your ministers. We need peace in my home. They need peace in the schools. The countries in the world need peace.

What is peace? I can’t know. We love Jesus. We love each other. We love the church. Where is peace? I can’t know. I guess we just have to keep trying to find you, God. I guess we just have to learn more. Please help us to know peace and find peace. Then I can know. Then I can help others find peace and know peace.

So, Good Morning, God. From your young peacemakers.

Disciples’ Generous Response

The offering is the act of giving of ourselves to further God’s purposes in the world. The offering gifts are symbolic of our self-offering and show our commitment to service. Our gifts should be a grateful response. We are given cause for celebration and joy as we share with others the symbols of our lives, which have been given to us by a gracious God. Let us unite our individual contributions into one gift given in joyful response to God’s great gift to us all.
— Prayers and Readings for Worship (Herald House, 1987), edited by Judy Judd, page 103, adapted

Our offerings are more than meeting budgets or funding mission. Through our offerings, we are able to tangibly express our gratitude to God who is the giver of all. Please provide your Local and World Mission Tithes through eTithing or send your donations to the Congregational Financial Officer.

Closing Hymn“We are a Family of Faith” – CCS 350

Sending Forth

If you truly would be Community of Christ, then embody and live the concerns and passion of Christ. The challenges and opportunities are momentous. Will you remain hesitant in the shadows of your fears, insecurities, and competing loyalties? Or will you move forward in the light of your divinely instilled call and vision? The mission of Jesus Christ is what matters most for the journey ahead. – Doctrine and Covenants 164:9

This service was prepared by Fred and Joyce Keenan.