Passage: Mark 9:2-9
On Sunday, February 11, 2024, which was celebrated as Transfiguration Sunday, the Pender's Carillon Ringers, under the direction of Brian Stevenson, graced the beginning of the service with a captivating prelude titled "Jesus and His Love." This piece, artfully arranged by Benjamin A. Tucker, skillfully merges two cherished hymns: "I Love to Tell the Story" and "Jesus Loves Me."
This particular arrangement by Tucker is celebrated for its robust and expressive quality, making it a versatile addition to the repertoire that fits seamlessly into any period of the church calendar. However, it finds a particularly special resonance on mission Sundays, where the themes of storytelling and divine love align closely with the outreach and evangelistic efforts of the congregation.
The arrangement's beauty lies in the seamless integration of the two hymns, each renowned in its own right. "I Love to Tell the Story" is a hymn that speaks to the joy and obligation of sharing the Christian faith, while "Jesus Loves Me" is a simple yet profound assurance of Jesus' love for all, often considered one of the first theological lessons imparted to children. By blending these tunes, Tucker's arrangement invites a reflective consideration of Jesus' love and the importance of sharing that love with the world, echoing the transformative message of Transfiguration Sunday.
Pastor Bruce Johnson delivered the sermon, focusing on the significance of Methodist heritage and its relevance to modern-day believers. He emphasized the transformative role of the Holy Spirit in the Methodist movement during the 18th century, which was not just about forming a new denomination but about reviving the church and spreading the gospel globally. Pastor Johnson highlighted that remembering the Methodist forebears is vital not as a mere history lesson but as a connection to a living heritage that continues to inspire and guide United Methodists today.
He addressed the misconception among many United Methodists, possibly influenced by church leaders, that being Methodist is merely one of many options in mainline Christianity. Pastor Johnson stressed the importance of recognizing the unique contributions and gifts of the Methodist movement, including a vision of holiness, a message of grace, an evangelistic mission, and a disciplined fellowship of love through the means of grace.
Referencing United Methodist historian Scott Kisker, Pastor Johnson underscored the need to remember and utilize the distinct gifts from the Methodist tradition, especially at a time when the United Methodist Church is facing identity challenges and significant losses in membership. He called for a reflection on the Methodist heritage as a source of strength and guidance for participating in the Holy Spirit's ongoing work of church renewal and the global mission.
The sermon also touched on the historical context of John and Charles Wesley's work, their initial reluctance, and their eventual surrender to God's will, which led to the widespread impact of their ministry. Pastor Johnson drew parallels between the skepticism faced by early Methodists and the challenges the church encounters today, advocating for a re-engagement with foundational Methodist principles to revitalize the church's mission and witness.
In conclusion, Pastor Johnson encouraged the congregation to embrace their Methodist heritage as a means to contribute uniquely to the broader mission of the church in today's world, reminding them of the power of God's love and the importance of living out their faith authentically in the spirit of the Methodist tradition.
1 Peter 2:1-12 encourages believers to rid themselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. It likens them to newborn infants who crave spiritual milk to grow in their salvation, now that they have tasted the Lord's goodness. The passage metaphorically describes believers as living stones being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. It emphasizes that Jesus is the cornerstone, chosen by God but rejected by humans, and highlights the believers' identity as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God's special possession. This identity is given so that they may declare the praises of God, who called them out of darkness into His wonderful light. The passage concludes by urging the believers to live good lives among the pagans, so that, even though they may be accused of doing wrong, they will see the believers' good deeds and glorify God.
Mark 9:2-9 describes the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a high mountain, where He is transfigured before them, with His clothes becoming dazzling white. Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus. Peter suggests building three shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, not knowing what to say because they are so frightened. A cloud then envelops them, and a voice from the cloud says, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!" Suddenly, when they look around, they no longer see anyone with them except Jesus. As they come down the mountain, Jesus instructs them not to tell anyone what they have seen until the Son of Man has risen from the dead, leaving them questioning what "rising from the dead" meant.
Dive into a unique and uplifting musical experience as the Pender Sanctuary Choir presented a reggae rendition of "Alleluia" from the United Methodist Hymnal (page 186), infused with original verses by our very own Director of Music, Patrick King. This performance transcends traditional boundaries, blending sacred hymnody with the vibrant, soul-stirring rhythms of reggae. Under Patrick's creative direction, the choir brings a fresh and joyous perspective to this timeless piece, inviting listeners to engage with the music in a new and exciting way.
Whether you're a longtime fan of reggae, a lover of choral music, or simply in search of something to lift your spirits, this performance is sure to resonate. Join us on a musical journey that celebrates the fusion of diverse styles, all while honoring the spirit of "Alleluia".
The hymn selection began with "Shalom to You," a melodic benediction wishing peace upon each listener, setting a tone of harmony and unity. The journey continued with the poignant "And Are We Yet Alive," a powerful reflection on survival, resilience, and the grace that binds us together through life's trials and triumphs.
Next, the congregation was invited to turn their gaze heavenward with "Jesus, Lord, We Look to Thee," a heartfelt plea for divine guidance and unity in Christ's love. The hymnal adventure culminated with "Come, Let Us with Our Lord Arise," an invigorating call to worship and celebrate the resurrection power that energizes our daily walk with God.
Each hymn, a thread in the rich tapestry of faith, wove together themes of peace, perseverance, divine leadership, and joyful awakening. This collection wasn't just a series of songs; it was a shared spiritual journey that left an indelible mark on the hearts of all who participated, inviting us to rise, reflect, and rejoice in the ever-present love and guidance of the divine.