A Eucharist for the Feast of the Transfiguration
Live from Tavistock in the 700th anniversary year of St Eustachius' Parish and in a week when the church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration.
Live from the Tavistock Festival in the seven hundredth anniversary year of St. Eustachius' Parish and in a week when the Church marks the Feast of the Transfiguration - a mountaintop experience for three of the disciples who witnessed Jesus' clothes become 'as bright as a flash of lightening' as his ministry was endorsed by a heavenly voice. The Exon Singers with Conductor & Artistic Director Joseph Judge, Festival Organist Josef Laming and the FIGO Ensemble, sing movements from Schubert's Mass in G. 2 Peter 1:16-19; Luke 9:28-36. Celebrant: The Very Revd Christopher Hardwick; Preacher: Canon James Mustard. Producer: Katharine Longworth.
BBC Radio 4. And time now for Sunday Worship comes from Tavistock Parish Church in Devon. It is led by the Very Revd Christopher Hardwick and begins with the hymn “Immortal, Invisible, God only wise”
Hymn: Immortal, Invisible, God only wise (St Denio)
Welcome: The Very Revd Christopher Hardwick
It is my priviledge and joy to welcome you to the church of St.Eustachius in Tavistock which sits on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park.
This year we are celebrating our 700th Anniversary. Our Church is named after a Roman general who became a Christian in the second century. Despite facing many adversities and persecution, Eustachius remained steadfast and faithful to his new found faith. By his example, he has inspired many others on their Christian journey.
This morning’s service is part of an annual festival of music which takes place here each summer with The Exon Singers, and it is a pleasure to welcome them and the Figo Ensemble.
Today we celebrate the Transfiguration, a feast which helps us to see more clearly of the glory of the Lord in our midst.
The president says
Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you.
All and also with you.
When Christ appears we shall be like him,
because we shall see him as he is.
As he is pure,
all who have grasped this hope make themselves pure.
So let us confess our sins that mar his image in us.
All Father eternal, giver of light and grace,
we have sinned against you and against our neighbour,
in what we have thought,
in what we have said and done,
through ignorance, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We have wounded your love
and marred your image in us.
We are sorry and ashamed,
and repent of all our sins.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
who died for us,
forgive us all that is past;
and lead us out from darkness
to walk as children of light.
The president says
who forgives all who truly repent,
have mercy upon you,
pardon and deliver you from all your sins,
confirm and strengthen you in all goodness,
and keep you in life eternal;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Choir: Gloria – Schubert in G
Let us pray
Father in heaven,
whose Son Jesus Christ was wonderfully transfigured
before chosen witnesses upon the holy mountain,
and spoke of the exodus he would accomplish at Jerusalem:
give us strength so to hear his voice and bear our cross
that in the world to come we may see him as he is;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
NT Reading - 2 Peter 1.16-19 (Read by Amy Shaw)
A reading from the Second Letter of Peter
16We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ 18We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
19So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
This is the word of the Lord.
All Thanks be to God.
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St.Luke
All Glory to you, O Lord.
28 Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ Peter did not know what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
Sermon The Rev’d Canon James Mustard
“It is good for us to be here”
St Eustachius, patron of this seven hundred year old parish church, is an unlikely saint. A Roman general named Placidus, he converted to Christianity having seen a vision of a stag with a crucifix lodged between its antlers. At his baptism, he took the name Eustace, meaning steadfast, only for members of his family and his wealth to be taken from him in a series of disasters. Despite many trials, and much suffering he did not lose his faith, giving him the reputation of being a Job of the Christian tradition. He is thought to have been martyred, along with his remaining family, at the instruction of the Emperor Hadrian in the early second century.
Eustachius was converted by a vision, and it is another vision that we are marking today: the spectacle of Jesus’ Transfiguration. Peter, James and John see Jesus in the company of Moses and Elijah, his clothes and face dazzling white, and God’s voice thundering from a cloud declaring Jesus to be his son. For the Gospel writers Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Transfiguration is a pivotal moment in the story of Jesus, it is the moment where Jesus’ full humanity is displayed in relation to his full divinity. The dazzling clothes and appearance of Jesus remind us of Moses when he came down from Mount Sinai, bearing the tablets of the Law. But Jesus is not the reflection of God’s glory, he is God’s glory itself: fully human and fully divine.
The Transfiguration is an image of God’s radiant glory in Jesus that is a sharp contrast to a much better known image of Jesus, that of the Cross of Good Friday. But both are related: Jesus is on high, in the first, radiant with the Glory of God, at the Crucifixion, battered and wearing a crown of thorns. At the Transfiguration, Jesus is flanked by Biblical heroes, but on the Cross by common criminals. On the mountain, Jesus has his closest friends at his feet, glad to be there and willing to prepare shelter, whereas on Golgotha, he is abandoned by all except his mother Mary and St John who weep. Yet, the Jesus of the Transfiguration and the Jesus of the Cross are one and the same: in radiant glory and abject suffering, he is fully human and fully God.
Holding together the Jesus of both transfigured glory and the desolation of the Cross poses, I think, a particular challenge to us in the (Global) West. Here, perhaps shaped by consumerism and other cultural-economic forces, we tend to shy away from suffering, seeing it as a form of failure, and prefer to invest in success. At Exeter Cathedral, where I have the privilege to serve, we recently hosted visitors to the Diocese of Exeter from our link dioceses of Thika in Kenya, and Cyprus and the Gulf.
One of the delegates from the Gulf spoke powerfully of the persecution of Christians in parts of the Middle East. But, perhaps contrary to the expectations of those of us living in Devon, what was striking was how they embraced these challenges as their Christian witness, galvanising them into acts charity and marking their solidarity with Saints Peter, James, John, Eustachius and all the saints. Indeed, it was even suggested that for us in the West to wish away and pray for an end to persecution of our fellow Christians in other parts of the world is fundamentally to misunderstand, even to undermine, their identity and calling.
By contrast, in the United Kingdom today, the Church is culturally embedded and largely undisturbed. It has considerable reach, but does not have the attendance and resources it once did. Within the Church of England, and in other traditions, there are numerous strategies to improve engagement, which have extended ministries in many valuable ways. But all too often, the success of these ministries is measured against the triumphant image of the Transfiguration, where big is better and brightest is best. So how do we relate to suffering and its implied lack of success? Are we, like Peter, James and John all too quick to put up more tents for our heroes, whilst leaving Mary and John alone at the foot of the Cross?
Of course, it is when the Church engages in people’s lives in a costly way that the greatest impact is felt. When we find groups engaging with the dispossessed in society, when the community is supported, nurtured and loved in time of tragedy, suffering and loss, when the Church is a model of service to all, when we take up our own cross to suffer alongside the Crucified Christ. Indeed, when the Church is prepared to give up everything, to suffer and to risk being a failure, that is where true Transfiguration glory is revealed.
The Transfiguration is, then, a moment of glory, of the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus revealed. It is a revealing of God for all to see and it is a pivotal moment in the Disciples understanding of who Jesus is. It is also a sharp call to the Church to remind itself that the Glory of the Transfigured Jesus is the corollary of Jesus on the Cross: they are one and the same Jesus, and both Glory and Abasement are the calling of the Church throughout the world.
Back to St Eustachius. Before his vision of the Stag and the Cross, he knew the worldly glory of the Roman Empire. In his baptism and discipleship, he knew the glory of the suffering Jesus. Eustachius and our recent visitors from the Diocese of Exeter’s link dioceses remind us that persecution and suffering is an inherent part of Christian discipleship. It is only by embracing both the dazzling brightness of the Transfiguration and the chilling eclipse of the Cross that we can fully understand the glory of the ministries to which we are called.
Choir: Handel - And the Glory of the Lord
President In the power of the Spirit and in union with Christ,
let us pray to the Father.
Christ will transfigure our human body
and give it a form like that of his own glorious body.
We are the body of Christ.
We share his peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you
All and also with you.
Deacon Let us offer one another a sign of peace.
[All may exchange a sign of peace]
HYMN: Let all mortal flesh keep silence (Picardy)
The Eucharistic Prayer
The Lord is here
All His Spirit is with us
Lift up your hearts.
All We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All It is right to give thanks and praise.
It is indeed right,
it is our duty and our joy,
at all times and in all places
to give you thanks and praise,
holy Father, heavenly King,
almighty and eternal God,
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
And now we give you thanks
because the divine glory of the incarnate Word
shone forth upon the holy mountain
before the chosen witnesses of his majesty;
and your own voice from heaven proclaimed your beloved Son.
Therefore with angels and archangels,
and with all the company of heaven,
we proclaim your great and glorious name,
for ever praising you and singing:
Choir : Sanctus – Schubert in G
Accept our praises, heavenly Father,
through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and as we follow his example and obey his command,
grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit
these gifts of bread and wine
may be to us his body and his blood;
who, in the same night that he was betrayed,
took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way, after supper
he took the cup and gave you thanks;
he gave it to them, saying:
Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Choir: Pader in Arleth (The Lord’s Prayer in the Cornish Language) – Russell Pascoe
Breaking of the Bread
We break this bread
to share in the body of Christ.
All Though we are many, we are one body,
because we all share in one bread.
Choir Agnus Dei – Schubert in G
(There is only time for the altar party to receive Communion during the broadcast. The congregation will be invited to receive Holy Communion after the broadcast has finished. During this time, The Exon Singers will sing a short motet)
Prayer after Communion
Let us pray
we see your glory in the face of Jesus Christ:
may we who are partakers at his table
reflect his life in word and deed,
that all the world may know his power to change and save.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All Father of all,
we give you thanks and praise,
that when we were still far off
you met us in your Son and brought us home.
Dying and living, he declared your love,
gave us grace, and opened the gate of glory.
May we who share Christ’s body live his risen life;
we who drink his cup bring life to others;
we whom the Spirit lights give light to the world.
Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us,
so we and all your children shall be free,
and the whole earth live to praise your name;
through Christ our Lord.
the splendour of the Father and the image of his being,
draw you to himself
that you may live in his light and share his glory;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
HYMN How shall I sing that majesty (Coe Fen)
Deacon Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
All In the name of Christ. Amen.