A Morning Service for the Sunday next before Lent 2024


Today as we draw close to the season of Lent and our journey in imagination to Jesus’ cross and resurrection, so the lectionary bids us to remember the moment when Jesus’ actual journey to the cross begins in earnest, that moment when at the northern borders of ancient Israel he turns to begin his return south to Jerusalem in time for Passover and the celebration of the liberation of his people from slavery.

A Morning Service for the Sunday next before Lent 2024


HYMN – My God how wonderful thou art  NEH410 – Westminster 

1 My God, how wonderful thou art,

Thy majesty how bright,

How beautiful thy mercy-seat,

In depths of burning light!

2 How dread are thine eternal years,

O everlasting Lord,

By prostrate spirits day and night

Incessantly adored!

3 How wonderful, how beautiful,

The sight of thee must be,

Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,

And awful purity!

4 O, how I fear thee, living God,

With deepest, tenderest fears,

And worship thee with trembling hope,

And penitential tears!

5 Yet I may love thee too, O Lord,

Almighty as thou art,

For thou hast stooped to ask of me

The love of my poor heart.

6 No earthly father loves like thee,

No mother, e’er so mild,

Bears and forbears as thou hast done

With me thy sinful child.

7 Father of Jesus, love’s reward,

What rapture will it be

Prostrate before thy throne to lie,

And gaze and gaze on thee.

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

God the Father forgives us in Christ and heals us by the Holy Spirit.
Let us therefore put away all anger and bitterness, all slander and malice,
and confess our sins to God our redeemer.   cf. Ephesians 4.30,32

Almighty God, our heavenly Father,
we have sinned against you
and against our neighbour,
through our own fault,
in thought, and word, and deed,
and in what we have left undone.
We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins.
For your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,
forgive us all that is past;
and grant that we may serve you in newness of life
to the glory of your name. Amen.

May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen


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

FIRST READING – 2 Kings 2.1-12

Just before the LORD took Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As certainly as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Some members of the prophetic guild in Bethel came out to Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the LORD is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.”

Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he replied, “As certainly as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. Some members of the prophetic guild in Jericho approached Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the LORD is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.”

Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he replied, “As certainly as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they traveled on together. The fifty members of the prophetic guild went and stood opposite them at a distance, while Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, folded it up, and hit the water with it. The water divided, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of the prophetic spirit that energises you.” Elijah replied, “Thatʼs a difficult request! If you see me taken from you, may it be so, but if you donʼt, it will not happen.”

As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two.

HYMN – Tis good Lord to be here,  NEH178 – Carlisle

1 ‘Tis good, Lord, to be here!

Thy glory fills the night;

Thy face and garments, like the sun,

Shine with unborrowed light.

2 ‘Tis good, Lord, to be here,

Thy beauty to behold,

Where Moses and Elijah stand,

Thy messengers of old.

3 Fulfiller of the past,

Promise of things to be,

We hail thy Body glorified,

And our redemption see.

4 Before we taste of death,

We see thy kingdom come;

We fain would hold the vision bright,

And make this hill our home.

5 ‘Tis good, Lord, to be here!

Yet we may not remain;

But since you bidst us leave the mount

Come with us to the plain.

GOSPEL – Mark 9.2-9

Six days later, 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.


Today as we draw close to the season of Lent and our journey in imagination to Jesus’ cross and resurrection, so the lectionary bids us to remember the moment when Jesus’ actual journey to the cross begins in earnest, that moment when at the northern borders of ancient Israel he turns to begin his return south to Jerusalem in time for Passover and the celebration of the liberation of his people from slavery.

Judging from the actions of Peter it is the week of Sukkot, or Booths, which marks the end of the autumn harvest. Wikipedia tells us that Sukkot is plural for sukkah and a sukkah is ‘the name of the temporary dwelling in which farmers would live during harvesting, a fact connecting to the agricultural significance of the holiday stressed by the Book of Exodus. As stated in Leviticus, it is also intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the Exodus from slavery in Egypt. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and many people sleep there as well.’ To this day, in fact.

If I am right about this, and why else would Peter suggest constructing booths, then Jesus has just 6 months to live. This is a moment of great significance. 

Mark begins his account by telling us that this is ‘Six days later’. Later than what, you may ask. And you should – Mark deliberately connects this event with the previous incident. 

At Caesarea Phillipi Jesus asked his disciples ‘who do you say that I am?’, and Peter answered ‘You are the Messiah.’ When Jesus began to tell them of the fate that awaited him Peter ‘rebuked him’,  to which Jesus replied ‘Get behind me Satan.’ And then called the crowd and his disciples to him saying, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.’ This is the first of three warnings that Jesus gives to his disciples of his crucifixion. 

On the mountain Peter calls Jesus ‘Rabbi’. Mark uses the term rabbi, ‘teacher’, three times, and three is for him always a sign of significance.  He has Peter calling Jesus ‘Rabbi’ again in Peter’s lament over Jesus’ repudiation of the Temple, when Jesus curses the fig tree for its fruitlessness. And Rabbi is what Judas calls Jesus when he greets him in the garden at the moment of betrayal. Each time ‘Rabbi’ prefigures a moment of profound failure to understand. It is no different here, Jesus stands in this august company and Peter calls him ‘Rabbi’!

The transfiguration is the point of axis, it all gets very serious from now on. Of course, the details are all highly symbolic. Moses represents freedom from Egyptian oppression, the creation of a state bound by a Law of God common to all its people, a time before Israel had kings; and Elijah represents the prophetic voice at a time when the corruption of its kings and foreign domination afflicted Israel. Jesus has come not to overthrow their work, but to signal a new age, a new chapter in the expression of God to mankind. With them standing together we see that this is no revolution, but an evolution. 

In becoming clothed in dazzling white we are to understand that Jesus wears the robes of martyrdom, which are always white, and dazzling as only heaven can make them. Both Moses and Elijah found the presence of God on mountain tops at moments of crises, at moments when something new was to be begun, and they received their new instructions. The disciples are given the same burden and privilege – for the voice of God is aimed at them (and by implication us), hopelessly inadequate though they be. The instruction to them is much simpler than that to Moses and Elijah, but perhaps the more overwhelming – simply, ‘Listen to him’.

The heavenly voice was first heard by Jesus at his baptism, legitimating the first phase of his mission, and now it is heard again at this second phase as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

The disciples greatest problem, according to St Mark at least, was that they just didn’t get it. They were told so much, and there was so much they couldn’t understand. It was all too strange. They thought they were signing up for a better Israel, an Israel free of Roman oppression and the unjust and corrupt ways of their client leaders. Instead, they were to be the conduit for a better world, a challenge to mankind for evermore. But we still don’t get it. We still don’t understand what would lead to our best happiness, even though the way was taught 2,000 years ago. We still don’t understand that the way to joy and peace, is through simple but repeated acts of kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness, generosity and compassion – that is living under the rule of God, in the kingdom of God. It isn’t rocket science, yet the message cost Jesus a cross, and goes on costing men and women today – all over the world.


Let us declare our faith in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
he was buried; he was raised to life on the third day
in accordance with the scriptures;
afterwards he appeared to his followers,
and to all the apostles: this we have received,
and this we believe.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 15.3-7

HYMN – O vision blest of heavenly light  NEH 176 – Herongate

O Vision blest of heavenly light, 

Which meets the three disciples’ sight, When on the holy mount they see 

Their Lord’s transfigured majesty. 

More bright than day his raiment shone; The Father’s voice proclaimed the Son Belov’d before the worlds were made, For us in mortal flesh arrayed. 

And with him there on either hand 

Lo, Moses and Elijah stand, 

To show how Christ, to those who see, Fulfils both law and prophecy. 

O Light from light, by love inclined, 

Jesu, redeemer of mankind, 

Accept thy people’s prayer and praise Which on the mount to thee they raise. 

Be with us, Lord, as we descend 

To walk with thee to journey’s end, 

That through thy cross we too may rise, And share thy triumph in the skies. 

To thee, O Father; Christ to thee, 

Let praise and endless glory be, 

Whom with the Spirit we adore, 

One Lord, one God for evermore. Amen

INTERCESSIONS – Gill Macdonald

Lord the light of your love is shining – on the top of a mountain – transfigured in glory.

We pray and thank you for your worldwide church – for bishops and ministers everywhere who are radiantly proclaiming your message of love and salvation, sometimes in the darkest of places facing danger and persecution.  We pray for the Church in Myanmar, working in very difficult circumstances but out of the world’s spotlight. We pray for this diocese, this benefice and for William who continues to inspire and lead us with commitment and love.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer. 

We pray for your world Lord,  we thank you for all that is beautiful and good within it, and we lift to you with heavy hearts, the tensions of war and  for people who are suffering  because of it, particularly in Ukraine and Russia, Israel and Gaza and throughout the Middle East.  For those suffering famine and sickness, those suffering because of natural disasters and cruelty of any kind.

We pray for our own country, especially at this time for our King Charles III and all of the Royal family when they are again particularly in the spotlight –  we pray for our leaders, and all who hold office of responsibility that they may act wisely and justly, listen to each other and seek the common good.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer. 

We thank you for our own community, our friends and family – those who love us the  best and forgive us the most.  May we ever be mindful of each other and listen and serve each other to the very best of our ability.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer. 

We lift to you those on our hearts who particularly need comfort and support at this time, for those who are sick, worried, or grieving, and for those who care for them.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer. 

We pray for those we know who have died in the past few weeks, and for those whose anniversaries fall at this time.   We thank you for their lives, and the influence they have had on us, and thank you that now they are safe now in your hands.

Lord, in your mercy – Hear our prayer. 

As we go out into another week Lord, may the Transfigured light that shone on that mountain, shine in our lives and give us peace. 

Merciful Father, 

accept these prayers, for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

As our Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. 

Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.


Christ the Son of God perfect in you the image of his glory and gladden your hearts with the good news of his kingdom; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and remain with us always. Amen

HYMN – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty  NEH 440 – Hast du Denn Jesu

1 PRAISE to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;

O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:

Come ye who hear,

Brothers and sisters draw near,

Praise him in glad adoration.

2 Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,

Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth:

Hast thou not seen

All that is needful hath been

Granted in what he ordaineth?

3 Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work, and defend thee;

Surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;

Ponder anew

All the Almighty can do,

He who with love doth befriend thee.

4 *Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,

Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,

Biddeth them cease,

Turneth their fury to peace,

Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

5 *Praise to the Lord, who when darkness of sin is abounding,

Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,

Sheddeth his light,

Chaseth the horrors of night,

Saints with his mercy surrounding.

6 Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!

All that hath life and breath come now with praises before him!

Let the Amen

Sound from his people again:

Gladly for ay we adore him.

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord

In the name of Christ. Amen

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