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Sunday, 14 February 2021

Orthodox Icon: The Transfiguration

Dear Friends

The Gospel reading for this Sunday (Mark 9:2-9) is the story of the Transfiguration, which is the focus of the Feast of the Transfiguration on 6 August but which also crops up in the Common Worship lectionary here, just before Lent.  The reason for this is indicated in the Collect for the day, which states that Jesus was ‘revealed in majesty before he suffered death upon the cross’ – ie that his closest disciples were given an intimation on the mountain (traditionally considered to be Mount Tabor) of his eventual glorification once his work on earth had been accomplished.

Mountain-top revelations of this type, in the pattern of those to Moses and Elijah, were termed ‘theophanies’ – God disclosing himself to chosen human beings, usually for a specific purpose associated with mission.  As in the similar accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament version describes a cloud, signifying the presence of God, which covers the chosen disciples.  Also, as with most such theophanies and human encounters with the Divine, the duration is brief – those who are granted such experiences would often wish them to be longer, but the memory can last a life-time, and the purpose is usually to strengthen the recipients for whatever difficulties, dangers and trials they may have to endure in future.

This seems to have been the case for Jesus, who was preparing at that time to journey to Jersualem, knowing that betrayal and suffering awaited him, and the disciples closest to him were accorded the privilege, briefly, of seeing him as he truly was – ie God’s beloved Son – before they would be required to witness his passion.

It is, then, an especially apt reading for this Sunday as we prepare to embark upon Lent, reminding us that we too, as his disciples, can be strengthened to suffer with him, so that we may ultimately be ‘changed into his likeness, from glory to glory’.

Fr Stephen

Collect for Sunday Next Before Lent

Almighty Father,
whose Son was revealed in majesty
before he suffered death upon the cross: 
give us grace to perceive his glory,
that we may be strengthened to suffer with him
and be changed into his likeness, from glory to glory;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.  Amen.

 2 Corinthians 4.3-6

A reading from the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians.

Even if our gospel is veiled, 
it is veiled to those who are perishing. 

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. 

For we do not proclaim ourselves; 
we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord 
and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. 

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. 

Mark 9.2-3

Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Mark.

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, 

and his clothes became dazzling white,
 such as no one on earth could bleach them. 

And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, 
who were talking with Jesus. 

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."

He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 

Then a cloud overshadowed them, 
and from the cloud there came a voice, 
"This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!" 

Suddenly when they looked around, 
they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 

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. 

Service Times

Services are suspended.

The church is open during daylight hours for personal prayer and reflection.

Useful links

Here are some links to resources you may find helpful:

  1. Chichester Cathedral will be live streaming services. For the Eucharist and order of service Click here before 10:00am Sunday and follow the instructions.
  2. The BBC Daily Service is available here.
  3. Prayer for today.
  4. The C of E youtube channel.
  5. We will be updating Fr Stephens Message page on a regular basis.
  6. Hearing You is a new phone help line launched by the Diocese of Chichester in partnership with Together in Sussex in response to the impact that Covid 19 has had on Just about the whole community. It aims to provide pastoral support and a listening ear to the recently bereaved and people directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  7. COVID-19 advice from the Diocese of Chichester here.