Transfiguration Sunday – Black History Month, Rev Gloria Christian
LIGHT A CANDLE if you have one!
The light of Christ comes in the sunrise and in the song of the morn, in the blessings of the noon day, and through the stars in their courses. The light shines day and night and tells of Christ’s glory on this Transfiguration Sunday.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Jesus said: Love one another. God’s Love calls to our spirits that we may learn to love one another. We are called by name. We are called to grow in faith. We are called to be made new; to be transfigured by love; to become all that God created us to be.
We feel your presence Holy God for your kingdom of love is close at hand. Somewhere someone is kind when others are unkind, somewhere someone shares with another in need, somewhere someone refuses to hate, while others hate, somewhere someone is patient and waits in love, somewhere someone returns good for evil, somewhere someone serves another in love, somewhere someone is calm in a storm, somewhere someone is loving everybody. May that someone be me! In joy and in trouble, help us, Holy God, to trust your love, to serve your purpose, and to praise your name. Amen.
HYMN https://youtu.be/JhUvFqOY00I “One Day at A Time”
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Press ctrl and c and then go to your server (google) and press ctrl v and it will copy.
Mark 9:2-9 – The Transfiguration
2 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, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one[a]on earth could bleach them. 4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings,[b] one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. 7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved;[c] listen to him!” 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. 9 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.
16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
MEDITATION: “It’s All About Love”
Black History Month may feel different this February, after a year of the coronavirus and historic protests for social justice. While coming together is so important for celebrations, but sadly we are unable to gather to celebrate the many contributions Black people have made to our society. To honour those who have come before us, here is one story that illuminates the success of April Ellison in a white world. This story is told, I believe, from the perspective of the privileged. When a U.S. inventor named Eli Whitney revolutionized the production of cotton by creating the cotton gin, he had no way of knowing the impact he would have on the life of an African American named April Ellison. Born in 1790, Ellison was the son of two black slave parents. It was a common practice for the children of slaves to be named after the month they were born. When compared to the life of other slaves, it is easy to see that April Ellison’s life was blessed. That blessing (if it can be called a blessing) came in the shape of a white slave owner who bought him, William Ellison.
After he was purchased by William Ellison, Ellison made sure that April received an education. In 1802, Ellison arranged for April to become the apprentice of a gin maker in Winnsboro, South Carolina named William McCreight. Under McCreight’s tutelage and guidance, Ellison learnt how to build and repair the cotton gin. He would work for McCreight until 1816 learning important trades such as how to be a blacksmith, a machinist, and a carpenter. All of these were skills required of a gin maker. On his way to becoming a master gin builder. McCreight made sure Ellison received both the intellectual and mechanical education that would allow him to be independent and successful as a gin maker by teaching him how to read, write, and do bookkeeping. Not only did he learn how to be a master gin maker, Ellison, also, learned how to deal with white planters. If he is going to be a success in life, getting along with white people was an important aspect of life that he would have to learn. The education that Ellison received from McCreight prepared him for his future as a free African American man.
I am wondering as I read about the struggles of marginalized people, especially the Black communities; where is the gospel of Love and the Christian faith that was indeed a part of Christendom in the days of slavery. The glory of Christ’s transfiguration is apparently not heard of in the world of prejudice and racism. Where the privileged afraid of their own imaginations as was Peter, James and John terrified of their imaginations on that mountaintop.
Interestingly, the first response to the bright light of God’s reality is fear, it is a reality beyond us, unknown, awesome, greater than we can comprehend. Far from a random vision, this event is laden with symbolic meaning, connecting Jesus to Moses and Elijah, to the law given on Mount Sinai. A voice from heaven says, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.” So really transfiguration is not about Jesus changing in any way, it is about the disciples seeing Jesus for who he really is. Transformation is changing from one thing to another, transfiguration is seeing reality, Jesus, as he really is. Ellison’s story is of a slave becoming, being transformed, a free man and owning his own successful gin shop. In 1820, at the Sumter District courthouse April Ellison legally became William Ellison Jr. He changed his name because his former name was connected to slavery.
This story of successful assimilation into the white communities has a raw edge. On one hand this story is named good news and on the other hand, as a United Church minister, I see a loss of culture and identity. The transfiguration story has an edge for me, also. The edge comes when I think of fear in the light of Christ. However, the Ellison family were Christians. They attended church at the Episcopalian Church of the Holy Cross (Anglican) in Stateburg.
As time passed, Elliston’s wealth grew. The world of business was kind to Ellison as he would go on to become one of the major cotton gin manufacturers in the state of South Carolina. Elliston, a freed slave became the owner of 37 slaves and 386 acres of land by 1840. By 1860, Ellison owned more American slaves than anyone else in the entire state of South Carolina and 15 times more wealthy than wealthy white people. His entire entity came to an end on December 5, 1861 in the midst, of the civil war having made his wealth off the hard work of slaves. The edge again.
Spirituality is not just about changing and transformation, though we hope for these; it is also important to recognize the nature of spirituality is seeing clearly. If we don’t see things as they clearly are, how can we ever know real change? Seeing reality in the true light, the illumination of the divine is a spiritual necessity. If we want to know more of the reality of God, what we must do is pay attention and watch everything around us through the eyes of love. For healing prejudice and racism, for me, is all about love, not fear. We watch, pay attention, and then in a moment we see the world illuminated. Our vision sees below the surface of things, a light shines in the darkness, with the very presence of God’s Love and our love so we may be filled with the goodness of God. Amen.
POEM “Tell them they are loved”
Adapted from Colleen McCullough work
…what else would you tell them?’
His voice dropped to rumbling, purring warmth.
‘I would tell them they are loved.
No one seems to tell them they are loved.
That’s a large part of the trouble.
‘But oh… we all need to be told we are loved!
To be told you are loved lights up the day!
‘I would tell them that they already have every resource they need in order to make a better world…
‘I would try to make them see that God put them here for a purpose, and that purpose is to make something of the world He put them in, not channel their thoughts into an existence
they can only enter by leaving this world, by dying.
‘Too many people are so busy earning salvation in the next life
that they only end by screwing this one up.’ Amen.
Hear us Holy One. You created all human beings in your image and likeness. You have stamped each human person with a unique specialness, and all persons bear your image.
Through that image you call on us to reflect your goodness, justice, and love to all the world. Remind us that when we speak out for justice, mercy, and compassion we are displaying the aspects we find in you.
As we come to offer to you what we believe you are worth, show us how to display you in everything we do. Show us how to respect your image in all human beings. Help us to defend your image that is found in all human beings.
May we be wholly present in our own lives,
ready to be surprised by the wonder of each ordinary moment.
May the light around us guide our footsteps.
May the darkness around us nurture our dreams and give us rest.
Blessed be this day.
Amen and May it be so.
P.S. Shrove Tuesday Feb. 16
Ash Wednesday, Feb 17 and Lent begins
Lent I, Sunday, Feb. 21