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February 10, 2013–Transcendent Moment

Contributed by John Wertz, Blacksburg, VA


Warm-up Question

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “The only constant in life is change.”  Name three things in your life that have changed since the beginning of the school year?

Transcendent Moment

shutterstock_110592482editChances are that you or someone in your family was one of over 115 million people who watched the Super Bowl last weekend.  When the game was over, Joe Flacco was  named as the Most Valuable Player for the game.  Now to be sure, Flacco is still the same person he was before the game, but by shining brightly in the biggest game of the year, Flacco will now be seen in a different light by those around him.  People around the world will suddenly know his name.  Companies will ask him to endorse their products.  He’ll be lifted up by fans and celebrated as a hero in his community and eventually his team, or another team interested in his abilities, will probably pay him more money in his next contract.  Thanks to this one event on this one day his life will change.

Most of us will never play professional sports, but our lives often have transformational moments when our gifts are revealed to the world.  These moments may happen on a large public stage, like the Super Bowl.  These moments may happen in the quiet of a family room.  These moments may happen through a paper written for school.  We rarely know when these moments will occur, but when they happen, the people around us –our family, our friends, and our peers, begin to discover who we are and what we are capable of accomplishing.


Discussion Questions

  • Have you experienced transformational moment when you discovered something new about yourself or someone else?  How did you react?  How did the people around you react?
  • Can anyone in the group name the last five Super Bowl MVP’s?  What do you think makes some transformational moments lasting and others only temporary?

Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, February 10, 2013 (Transfiguration of Our Lord)

Exodus 34:29-35

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Luke 9:28-36 [37-43]

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.


Gospel Reflection

In our Gospel reading today from Luke, we see Jesus undergo a powerful transformational moment of his own.  Jesus takes Peter, James and John with him to the top of a mountain to talk to and listen to God in prayer.  In Luke, we see Jesus praying at his baptism (3:21).  We see Jesus praying the night before he calls the apostles (6:12).  We see Jesus praying following the feeding of the five thousand (9:18) and during his final days, we will see him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane (22:41) and on the cross (23:34, 46).  For the disciples, seeing Jesus in prayer would have been a fairly normal part of their faith and life, but their experience on top of the mountain with Jesus was certainly unique.  While he was praying, his clothing became dazzling white; his face began to change, and Moses and Elijah appeared in their glory.  Just as Peter appears to be getting a handle on what is happening, a terrifying cloud moves over them and a voice from heaven says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  Within moments, the whole experience was over.  Jesus’ face and clothing returned to normal.  Moses, Elijah, and the cloud disappeared.  The voice faded away, but the there is no doubt that the disciples and Jesus were changed by this transformational moment.

In this time of prayer on top of a mountain, Jesus’ true nature is revealed by God’s presence and power.  For Jesus and the disciples, prayer was not an afterthought or something you only did at meals.  Prayer was an important part of a relationship with God and a place where they expected God to be present and active.  The dazzling clothing, the appearance of Moses and Elijah, and the booming voice from heaven during this time of prayer affirm Jesus’ mission and ministry and make it clear to the disciples that Jesus is more than just a teacher, miracle worker, and prophet.  Now certainly every time of prayer in scripture is not accompanied by a dramatic transformational event, but the story of the Transfiguration reminds us that through prayer we can experience God’s presence in our midst and we can discover more about who we are and who God is calling us to be.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to pray?  How is praying with a group different than praying alone?  How do you think you would have reacted if you had been on the mountain top praying with Jesus?
  • The voice from heaven affirms that Jesus is God’s Son, just as it did at Jesus’ baptism, but the focus of the overall message changes.   At the Baptism of Jesus, the voice says,  “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  At the Transfiguration, the voice says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”  Why do you think the message changed?  What does this message at the Transfiguration mean for Jesus? for the disciples? for all of us?
  • Prayer is clearly a part of Jesus’ relationship with God.  How is prayer a part of your relationship with God?  What is one question you have about prayer?

Activity Suggestions

  • Try a one-word prayer.  Say a prayer by having everyone in the group say one word.  Pick someone to start and then have the person to their left add the next word.  For example, the first person might say, “Dear,” the second person might say, “God,” and the third person might say, “we”.  Have people continue to add words until you get a complete prayer thought.
  • If your congregation participated in the Super Bowl of Caring, find a creative way to share the story of how your donations will help fight hunger in your community.  If your congregation did not participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring, use their website: to learn about this exciting ministry.

Closing Prayer

Loving God, we give you thanks for sending Jesus to be a light in the world and a model for ministry.  Transform us by your presence with us and inspire us to be your hearts and hands and voices in the world.  Amen.

January 13-19–Salvation Army Victim of a Hoax

Contributed by Sylvia Alloway, Granda Hills, CA

Warm-up Question

Do you have everything you need? If not, what do you think is lacking? Are all needs physical? List some non-physical needs.

Salvation Army the Victim of a Hoax

We have all seen the familiar red pot and patient bell ringer in front of stores at Christmas. Collectors for the Salvation Army receive gifts ranging from a few coins to hundreds of dollars. Forty per cent of the aid association’s capital comes from the humble red Christmas pots.This year, however, the Army’s Charleston, S. C. chapter was the victim of a baffling hoax. A seeming act of great generosity turned into a great disappointment as a check for $25,000 bounced after the group had already spent part of it on the needs of some 100 families.

081020-SalvationRedKettle-hmed-456p_hmediumOther charitable organizations in the Charleston area received large checks, supposedly from Force Protection, Inc., a manufacturer of armored trucks, but only the Salvation Army cashed theirs. Force Protection knew nothing about the “gifts,” which were drawn on a bank account closed months before. The case is being investigated, but no arrests have been made.

The loss means a lack of funds that will translate into less help for the poor, even as the recession brings more and people to the door of the nationally known charity.


Source: Associated press article from 

Discussion Questions 

  1. What motive could someone have for giving bad checks to a charity?
  2. If you came face to face with the person who committed this fraud, what would you say to him/her?
  3. Some believe that fewer and fewer people care about doing right simply because it is right. Do you agree?  If lying, cheating and stealing are on the rise, what, if anything, can the church and/or  individual Christians do to stop this trend?


Scripture Texts (NRSV) for Sunday, January 17, 2010 (Second Sunday after Epiphany)

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year C at Lectionary Readings.) 

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

 Isaiah 62:15

I Corinthians 12:1-11

John 2:1-11 

Gospel Meditation 

So there was the wedding party and all of a sudden they ran out of wine. What’s the big deal? Couldn’t they drink something else?  No, they could not. Wedding parties of the day were huge, week-long affairs to which the entire community was invited. By the rules of hospitality, the host was expected to provide generously for his guests. Not to do so was a social error so great that it could ruin a family’s reputation. 

Many people interpret this story to mean that Jesus approves of marriage and he most certainly does. Others say it proves that God has nothing against good times, which is emphatically true, as well. 

But Jesus is also responding to a serious social need. And look how he responds. The “master of the banquet” (similar to what we call the “best man”) is so impressed with the wine that he takes the groom aside to comment on it. “You have saved the best until now.” Jesus can turn the plain and ordinary into his best. In this way he reveals his glory! 

The world can only give us bounced checks – IOUs for happiness and contentment which can never truly fulfill our needs. Depend on worldly glitter and gadgets for lasting satisfaction and you will come away empty every time. But Jesus’ presence can turn the “water” of our lives—broken promises, dead-end ambitions, and foolish desires—into his celebratory wine.  From Him flow new promises, ambitions, and desires, which lead to inner peace and joy that are not dependent on outward circumstances. 

And since we receive both physical and spiritual blessings from God, does it not make sense to share them? Many in our own neighborhoods are physically hungry. Even more suffer from spiritual want. Like the Salvation Army, let us continually give both physical comfort and the message of the Gospel to those in need. 

Discussion Questions 

  1. Think about the benefits of knowing and serving Jesus as our Savior. List and talk about some of them.
  2. What does it mean to be in need? Compare what we think we need to what we really need. Discuss the needs you mentioned in the warm-up question. How do we satisfy these needs?
  3. In a time when more and more people are without even the basics of life, the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations are stretched to the limit as to how many they can help. What can your church, your Sunday school class, and you personally do to help the poor of your community? 


  1. Plan a project for your church or youth group that will help the poor of your community. Some examples: You might sponsor a food or clothing drive (especially focusing on clothes for children, babies, or adults going on job interviews).  Cook and serve a monthly evening meal in the church hall.  Offer babysitting service for the children of parents who are searching for work. Try to make it something that will bring you face to face with those in need. 
  2. Plan a project that will fulfill spiritual needs.  Some examples: Go door to door telling people about your church and/or passing out Bibles.  Read or act out Bible stories for children.  Sponsor a youth concert with Christian music. 

Suggested songs: Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Give Thanks (with a Grateful Heart)

 Closing Prayer

Merciful Father, who supplies our needs with your best, turn our hearts outward. Open our eyes to the needs of those around us and, out of the help, love, and encouragement that you have first given us, help us to give generously to all. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord, we pray.  Amen.