Sunday, 14th February

Together in Prayer
Sunday next before Lent

O Lord open our lips.
And our mouth shall declare your praise!
Reveal among us the light of your presence.
that we may behold your power and glory.

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,
so may the light of your presence, O God,
set our hearts on fire with love for you;
now and for ever.

Preparing our hearts

Loving Lord, let your light shine in our lives,
let its brightness fill our hearts and transfigure us;
that, seeing your glory, we may come to you in awe and wonder,
and gazing upon you may be changed into your likeness,
moving from glory to glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with the Father and the
Holy Spirit is in eternal glory for ever and ever.

Reading: 2 Kings 2:1-12

Elijah Ascends to Heaven
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.”
Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.
This is the Word of our Lord
Thanks be to God.

Reading: Mark 9:2-9

The Transfiguration
After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
This is the Word of our Lord
Thanks be to God

Thought for the week: Rev Sarah Hobbs

We have the amazing truth that as part of God’s creation we are born into a ready-made relationship with him and each other. And we also know that this relationship has the extraordinary capacity to develop more deeply when the opportunity arises. We are brought to faith with the knowledge that God loved us even before we were born, he knows us by name and we are his and what’s even more astounding is that he loves us unconditionally.
It seems to me that Jesus already lives in relationship with everyone he meets, and he is now enhancing his ministry with the particular support of his disciples. We have heard that of the twelve he takes Peter, James and John up this high mountain in order to share with them something more of himself, which will deepen their existing relationship further.
Wonderfully we too are given opportunities such as this, to come into a closer relationship with God, in some quite unexpected ways. We may be praying, or have been praying for a long time, when suddenly we notice the light of understanding start to creep around the corners of our glume. Or we might be out for a walk in the icy blast or glorious winter sunshine and notice something that absolutely shines out God’s created wonder to us. For many we might read a passage of scripture that has previously been a bit of a mystery and God’s truth suddenly opens up. And so our relationship deepens, our understanding is heightened and our development progresses.
As I am helping out in the Westbury Benefice, I am concerned for the couples who hopes for a marriage service last year were dashed and are now trying to focus on this year. As we could find ourselves with little opportunity to meet, I have been able to send some of them a copy of a book The Marriage Book by Nicky and Sila Lee. I felt it only right to dip into the book, on the premise that it’s never too late to learn some tips!
A group of children were asked their opinion on love and the explanation varies from ‘how you smell’ hence the use of perfume to ‘being shot with an arrow, though the rest isn’t supposed to be so painful’ to how you look, though this lad was puzzled because he considered himself very handsome but wasn’t married yet!
The authors’ Christian perspective on relationships is most helpful; again it brings us to appreciate, and thank God, that we can develop a deeper relationship with another and come to share, through our vulnerabilities as well as our dreams, a fulfilled life together. The marriage service says that ‘Marriage is a gift from God in creation and a means of his grace.’ So we’re not beguiled by the television adverts taking advantage of St Valentine’s Day because they just won’t cut it, there’s so much more joy to be had as compared with a ‘moment of chocolate on the lips!’ and other superficial presents. We could all recite the first few verses of 1 Corinthians Chapter 13; Love for one another is precious, it’s a sharing of yourself in words and actions it’s giving time for listening and physical affection, only then does a thoughtful present demonstrate true lasting love.
Jesus shares with Peter, James, and John something of the depth of his relationship with his forebears and God cements his relationship and love for Jesus with the words ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ The love and trust that God bestows on Jesus is infinite – He is my Son – listen to him.
Clearly a terrifying revelation for the three disciples but Jesus needed them to come to accept this deeper truth of who he was; and to help he allows them a unique glimpse of God’s glory and hear God’s proclamation, ‘This is my Son’. I think, in a small way, that can be part of any developing relationship, and in our case, we may have to allow ourselves to become vulnerable to share something very personal with our partner.
And so I look forward to the Lent Course that Joe has researched ‘A journey through Lent’. I’m certain, if we were to admit it, that most of us have been harbouring hopes and fears, and that’s especially understandable during this past year. I feel sure there will be some nugget of inspiration that we will be able to take from this and in so doing maybe feel invited to deepen our relationship of trust and love for God. Life has been made so much more complicated for so many, but God’s love is not complicated, it’s very present with us, and in us always, let us enjoy this closeness that God invites us into remembering that God knew us even before we were born, and he loves us unconditionally.

Collect – 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.


Come, Lord of light, transfigure us,
increase our vision and reveal to us your glory.
May your church seek to transform our darkest places with your light.
May we seek out the lost, the deprived, the poor and the rejected,
and bring them home to you and your love.
We pray for the mission and outreach of the whole church.
Lord, touch us
and transfigure us.

Come, Lord of light, transfigure our towns and our cities.
We pray for areas of danger, for places of despair,
for those in poor housing and the street dwellers.
Lord, transform our places of poverty;
change our attitudes for the better towards each other.
Lord, touch us
and transfigure us.

Lord of light, come transfigure our homes,
that they may be radiant with your presence.
Make them homes of peace and kindliness,
of holiness and hospitality,
of grace and goodness;
that you may be known to be among us.
Lord, touch us
and transfigure us.

Lord of light and love, transfigure and sustain our
hospitals and nursing homes at this time.
We pray for all whose lives have been devastated
by illness and loss.
We pray for all who are downcast or fearful.
We pray for our scientists and all who strive to save and support us.
We pray for all who are awaiting hospital treatment
or operations, and for all who seek healing and hope.
Lord, touch us
and transfigure us.

Finally Lord, we give thanks for all who have passed beyond death
and been transformed in your glorious kingdom:
for the saints, for our benefactors, for loved ones departed
that we like them may come to the fullness of your presence.
Lord, touch us
and transfigure us.

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.

The Peace
Let the Lord touch you and transform you.
Let the Lord surround you with peace.
Let the grace and goodness of God go with you
and surround you with glory
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
and also with you.

The Blessing
Delight in the Lord always.
Rejoice in the brightness of his presence.
Be transformed and renewed by the power of his love.
And may the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
Now and for evermore.