For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Welcome to the gathering of St. Mark’s Church (Sunday worship under one roof) Sunday, Feb 14th 2021.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Friends, what a beautiful image this is! We see who God is in the face of Jesus Christ by God shining in our hearts. We are enlightened by God, our hearts are alighted by God, to see the face of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Perhaps like stormy clouds darken the sky, our hearts are shrouded from seeing the light. As we turn our hearts towards Jesus in worship, it is this is my prayer: Holy Spirit by your light clear away the dark clouds that shroud over our hearts to give us the vision of God, God whose face is turned towards us. I invite us to take a moment to prayerfully reflect on the light penetrating into our hearts to see God in the face of Jesus Christ.


For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Song               ‘God’s Word Is a Lamp unto My Feet’

Welcome and Notices

Praying the Psalm

In this part of the service we pray a psalm together. We listen in on the story from which the psalm arises in order to pray these words for us and for the world. We will pray Psalm 50 together. As it is long, we will pray the beginning section. Before we do, I will provide some background.

Psalm 50 poetically speaks of God as light. Like a ray of light piercing through the darkness, God shines forth into the world with justice. Just like a ray of light piercing through the darkened stormy sky, God shines forth like a ray of hope in a world overshadowed by injustice and despair. The psalm emphatically declares that though the darkness of this world tries to hide God, God will shine through to his people.

People of God, are you in a dark place? Does a storm rage in your heart? Do you know of people or situations that darkness is too dense for the light to penetrate? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel? God will shine forth, a ray of light will penetrate through the darkness that envelope us, envelope our world. Take heart and take courage.

Let us pray the psalm together. Please respond with the words in bold.

Psalm 50:1-6 (abridged for worship)

The Mighty One, God, the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to where it sets.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
Our God comes
and will not be silent;
a fire devours before him,
and around him a tempest rages.
He summons the heavens above,
and the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me this consecrated people,
who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his righteousness,
for he is a God of justice.

Prayer For Others

[Now we will be led in a prayer for others]

We respond by singing the Lord’s Prayer together [offering to be brought up during the chorus “Amen”]:

Offering and Dedication Prayer

Song                           ‘Take My Gifts’

 Scripture Mark 9:2-9 reading from the New Revised Standard Version

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.

Sermon Reflection

Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6; Psalm 50:1-6                                   Gospel Reading: Mark 9:2-9

Jesus was transfigured before his disciples and his clothes became dazzling white, such brightness unable to be produced by human hands or even nature. In seeing this the disciples were terrified and speechless. What’s this all about? It is a strange event. Strange in the sense that it is unlike what we are used to. There is a shroud of mystery here. I don’t mean mystery in the sense that it doesn’t require serious thought though. Perhaps it’s mystical in a similar way as how encountering the beauty of the milky way in the darkest of nights never ceases to make us wonder, literally, makes us wonder-full. It is similar to how standing under the immensity of the cosmos, it strikes us with awe and to a certain extent fear or terror in that at its presence we feel so small. At its presence we behold the cosmos in humility and we are tongue tied if not left speechless.

There are elements in the reading that may be foreign to you. Who are these people Elijah and Moses that suddenly appears? What is this thing about the voice coming out from the cloud? You may be as bewildered as much as hearing about the Lunar New Year. But I trust that you are as intrigued as exploring the world of other cultures. Elijah and Moses are signifiers of immense cultural meaning, so is the reference to the voice coming from the cloud. If you would like to learn more of their significance do come and talk to me. I pray that without going into too much detail, by the grace of God, we will hear the voice of God inviting us to a life of wonder in seeing God in Jesus.

I want to share a photo with you. Isn’t this just stunning? Beautiful isn’t it? Just admire it for a moment. I wonder whether you recognize where it is? As beautiful as it is, it is really difficult to discern the very location. I want to show you another photo of the same location but this time without the veil. Do you recognize where it is? Yes it’s Kaikoura. How did you know? Perhaps you know the colour of the sea at Kaikoura. Perhaps you know the landscape, the contours of the ountains and how the road straightens and hugs the coastline in the waterfront.


There is nothing wrong I guess with a veiled image of Kaikoura. It creates this beautiful scene as the setting sun hits the sea mist created from the crushing waves. It is beautiful in it’s own way. However, isn’t it true that though this is Kaikoura and we are seeing Kaikoura, we may not recognize it as so? The particularity and distinct features of Kaikoura veiled over, this could be anywhere with a beach, mountains at a time of sunset. Yet when the veil is lifted and there is clarity, when we can see the layout of the town, the colour of the sea and the mountains, the distinct shape and line of the valleys, then we can recognize the particularity of the place, we can say it’s Kaikoura!

As we have begun our worship with the words of 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, it says that the gospel is veiled, the gospel who is Jesus is veiled from us. It’s not God who hides it from us. In fact, we will see that God invites us to see who God is. Rather it is veiled because we are blinded by powers that deceive us and because we have given away our heart to things that are contrary to the love God intends for us in Jesus. So we are unable to see the face of God in the face of Jesus. However, we need not despair. God who created light in spite of sheer darkness, God who created life in spite of sheer impossibility of life, this very God shines light into our hearts to clear away the veil so that we may see the true beauty of God in the particularity of Jesus.

To a certain extent I wonder whether this is the kind of experience that the disciples encounter in our scripture reading today. Jesus is unveiled in front of the disciples. Whatever it is that had once veiled them from recognizing Jesus for who he is, the light of God dispels it, unveils it like opening up the curtain drawn up, like lifting the veil. Jesus’ divinity is unveiled, Jesus shines with light that is not made but light that creates, light that gives life – God of God, light of light, very God of very God.

It is significant to note Peter’s reaction. What a paradox! It says that he is terrified yet he wants to dwell there. It’s obviously not a terror that destroys us but it is a terror that grips us at the realization of the indescribable weight and vastness of the unfathomable. In other parts of the bible, those who are in the presence of God, responds in this way at the beauty of it. Up to now, the disciples have experienced Jesus. They have seen his ministry, following him as he reaches out to the vulnerable, as he bring to the centre those who are marginalized and pushed out to the fringe of our society, as he challenges the status quo of those who are privileged and hold power. Yet did they recognize Jesus for who he is? Here as the veil is lifted, they see who Jesus is.

What God invites us in Jesus is to see the true image of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This is more than just looking at the beautiful veiled image of God. Like the image of Kaikoura veiled by the sea mist and sunset, we may experience God and be overawed by its beauty. However, God’s invitation in Jesus Christ is more than this. We are to see Jesus unveiled so that we recognize God. Just as we recognize Kaikoura by its particularity and distinct features, we are to recognize God by the particularity and distinct features of Jesus. So the voice of God implores: “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” The one who shows the way to life, the one who gives the law of life. This is the Lord of Life. Follow him by the by ways and high ways. See and hear what Jesus does, how he does it, why he does it, for in this we recognize God, in this we recognize Jesus as divine.

I want to end with a story. I trust it will enlighten us to what we have read in the scripture. I remember visiting Aoraki Mt. Cook. I was overawed by its majesty and beauty. But unlike me, who looked upon it from a distance, some people get up close and personal. Over the long weekend, Stephanie from the office and some of her family went on a hike in Aoraki Mt. Cook. They set out from the plains to scale up the mountain to Mueller hut. She says that it is stair after stair of going up and up and up for nearly 5 hours. I can’t imagine the excruciating pain this would cause, an assault on the body. Stephanie describes it: “It is hell!” But strangely enough her face glowed with joy. I wondered why. Shortly she said that those who know Aoraki told her that it is something else to see and hear the avalanches. As the conditions could worsen, Stephanie could not stay overnight to extend the opportunity of experiencing this and had to come straight down. I started thinking how strange. Isn’t avalanche just frightening? Why would she feel disappointed that she might not get to see it and hear it? Well, as luck would have it, she did see it. More than that she heard it! The sound of terror. Stephanie’s face glowed even more. I will never know the joy the sound of terror brings – unless I dare to get up close and personal, unless I see it and hear it, I will never reflect the glow I see on her face.

Church of Jesus Christ, listen to him, the Son of God, the Beloved, Jesus, in whom God claims us beloved. May we reflect the divine glow of Christ, the very light that creates, the very light that gives life, the very light that is pure love.

Holy Communion

Many will come from North and South,

from East and West

and sit at table in the kingdom of God.

Gathered around a table is where Jesus so often met people…

Gathered around a table where he could see people face to face, listen to their stories, share their laughter.


And here, we are gathered round a table

because this is where Jesus has promised to be

for those who want to meet him.

So accept his invitation

and feel welcome at this table.

Jesus Christ invites you to be his guests.


We take this bread and wine, the produce of earth and the work of human hands through which Jesus has promised to make himself known.

And as he said a prayer before sharing, let us follow his example.

The Lord be with you. And also with you.

Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord.

It is right to give God thanks and praise.


It is right to praise you, for you are the One from whom we came and the one to whom we will return.

You conceived the universe, wove the world together

and hold all life in your hand.

You watch us, waking or sleeping,

you keep every tear we shed,

you hear every prayer we make,

you know both our best and our worst

and you will not let us go.


And so with your people throughout the world

we praise you,

singing the hymn of your eternal glory.

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might; heaven and earth are full of your glory,

hosanna in the highest. 

Blessed is the one who comes

in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.


Yes, blessed is he…

Who was born among us incognito,

who grew up without privilege or status,

who walked the way to heaven through the back streets of this world,

who told the deepest truths in ordinary language,

who touched, healed and blessed and disturbed without fear or favour.


Blessed is he who showed inclusive love

in all its unconditional glory;

who for this was crucified, died and was buried,

who for this and for us all, rose again;

who through his Spirit

is present with us here and now. 


Lord Jesus Christ, present with us now,

for all that you have done,

for all that you have promised,

what have we to offer?


Our hands are empty

our hearts are sometimes full of the wrong things.

We are not fit to gather up the crumbs from under your table.  But with you is mercy and the power to change us.

May your spirit move among us

and settle upon this bread and wine

that they may become for us

the body and blood of Christ.


Among friends gathered around the table Jesus took bread, broke it and said, “Take this and eat it. It is my body given for you. Do this to remember me.”


Then later he took a cup of wine and when he had given thanks, he said,


“In this cup is the new relationship with God made possible because of my death. Take this, all of you to remember me.”


The angels said it to the startled shepherds

and Jesus said it to frightened followers.

And now these words which come from him

are shared to make us whole and make us one.

May the peace of Christ be with you.

And also with you.


All of you who hunger and thirst for a better life, for a deeper faith, for a better world, here is the bread of life:

feed upon it with gratitude.

Here is the cup of salvation:

drink from it and believe.

The gifts of God for the people of God.

Song                           ‘We Come To Your Feast’

Sharing the Peace of Christ Peace of Christ be with you.

Song of Sending      ‘May The Roads Rise’


The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever. Amen.