News

This Week at St. James:

February 28th thru March 5th (Second Sunday in Lent)

PLEASE NOTE: Our Sunday Worship schedule (COVID-19 Guidelines):
           9:00 am – Abbreviated Worship Service; No Children's Sunday School
           9:45 am to 10:30 am Adult Sunday School (see class info below)
          11:00 am – Abbreviated Worship Service

OUR MISSION STATEMENT

“Called by God, centered in the Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we rejoice in the Lord,
Proclaim his gift of Grace through liturgical
worship and service and share Christ’s love and forgiveness in all we do.”

OUR STAFF AT ST. JAMES

Pastor . ……………………...... Cell 803-607-5956 .……………….. Rev. Keith Getz
Director of Music and Organist ……………………………….……... Bill Scobee
Administrative Assistant ……....Cell 803-491-5853 ….…..................Valerie Johnson
Church Office …………………………………………………….…...803-773-2260

 

Welcome Visitors: If you’ve been baptized and wish to receive Holy Communion, you may come forward and participate. Those unable to come to the altar will commune in the pews first. If you are a first time visitor, please take home a welcome coffee mug located in the back of the Sanctuary. We thank you for worshipping with us today and hope you will come again. Small children are welcome in the worship. Busy Bags are available in the Narthex and scribble pads are in the back of the church. If your children become restless, we have a nursery available where they will be cared for with love. An usher would be happy to direct you.

Amplified Hearing Assistance SystemWe now have Hearing/Hearing Aid amplification devices (using wireless telecoil technology) available for those that are hearing impaired that can pair to compatible hearing aids or using a free loaner headset. Please speak to one of the Ushers. They will assist you obtaining a compatible loaner kit.

Today’s Music: Prelude—”Be Thou My Vision” by Smith; Postludenot documented

Flowers today is Lenten Greenery.

C:\Users\Admin_Asst\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.IE5\RQW8AJ0Y\MC900203092[1].wmf Remember in your Prayers for healing and other: Jeanne Bessel, Elaine Diehl, Tom Lovett, Norman McLeod (Alex’s brother), Dee Osborne, Arletta Price, Pam Price (daughter of Emery & Nancy McElveen), Ann Reynolds, Gabriella Roberts (Grand-daughter of Stephen & Paula Bohm), Stan Salter, Linda Timmons (friend of Paula Hutchison) and Shirley Viens.

Weekly Offering

Offering for Sunday, February 28th - $5,035.90 February Total - $16,172.10
Offering for Sunday, February 21st - $4,306.40 February Total - $11,136.20
Offering for Sunday, February 14th - $2,437.40 February Total - $6,829.80
Offering for Sunday, February 7th - $4,392.00 February Total - $4,392.00
Offering for Sunday, January 31st - $4,309.50 January Total - $19,503.50
Monthly Goal: $19,822.00 (Monies shown are less pass thru, Synod & Benevolence Gifts)
Offering shown are less Pass-thru, Synod and Benevolence gifts

**NEW ONLINE GIVING OPTION**

Starting February 1st, the St. James website added the capability to give to St. James through an embedded URL link posted on the home page of our website and replicated below:

Introducing SJLC's Secure Online Giving Link to the ELCA endorsed host Website Tithe.ly (click here for access)

Please note that it is not our intention for you to change the way you currently give to St. James. The online giving link is intended primarily for the use of persons (friends of the church, former members, etc.) who are not living in the local area or temporarily out of town but who wish to give designated, restricted or unrestricted gifts to support the mission of St. James Lutheran Church in Sumter SC.

This new giving capability is enabled through Tithe.ly, an organization which provides infrastructure services to churches and is endorsed by the ELCA. All giving transactions are handled by Tithe.ly, your credit card provider, or your bank. Those who wish to use this service need to create an account with Tithe.ly and will need to provide either your credit card information or bank account/routing information for secure ACH (Automated Clearing House) electronic payments/automated money transfer transactions.

This online giving option has a cost for each transaction. The processing fees the ELCA negotiated with Tithe.ly are:

2.49% + .25 cents per transaction for giving using VISA or Discover credit cards

2.9% + .25 cents per transaction for American Express (AMEX) ,

0.5% + .25 cents per transaction for ACH (direct from your bank) transactions.

The processing fee cost of each transaction can be deducted from the offering amount, which decreases the amount received by St. James, or it can be paid by the giver ("Cover Fees" check box lower left of transaction page), which increases the amount given by the percentages & transaction fees shown above based upon the transaction method choosen.

Text Giving (text-2-give) is currently not an available option used by SJLC.

Note: Please be aware that an online account setup with Tithe.ly can be deactivated, however, you currently cannot delete your personal account information registered on their web site.

If you wish to know more about the online giving option, please contact Richard Rasmussen at (803) 968-2189

IMPORTANT Notice Regarding 2021 Offering Envelopes

PLEASE - remember to mark your offering Envelopes!!

There are 4 categories of giving listed on your St. James offering envelope. These are:

Category
Effect
SJLC ONLY 100% Stays at SJLC
SJLC & SC Synod 10% goes to SC SYNOD
SJLC, SC Synod & ELCA  10% goes to SC SYNOD & ELCA
OTHER             As Additional Designation Indicated

For the past few years, unmarked (no category filled-in) offering envelopes were designated as SJLC ONLY, also referred to as “Current”. As you were informed at the annual January meeting, beginning in February 2021, unmarked envelopes will now be designated as “SJLC & SC Synod”. This means that 10% of the offering will go to Synod (NOT National ELCA). We ask you to mark your envelope with your intention so that we can direct the funds as you intended.  If it is NOT your intention to support the SC Synod, or ELCA, please mark your envelope as SJLC ONLY. Not marking your envelope will have an impact on our budget and projected giving.

Attendance

Sunday, February 28th, 2021: 9:00 a.m.—24, 11:00 a.m.—32
Sunday, February 21st, 2021: 9:00 a.m.—21, 11:00 a.m.—39
Ash Wednesday, February 17th, 2021: 12:00 p.m.—20, 11:00 a.m.—18
Sunday, February 14th, 2021: 9:00 a.m.—23, 11:00 a.m.—36
Sunday, February 7th, 2021: 9:00 a.m.—22, 11:00 a.m.—39
Adult Sunday School: ?; 09:00 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. Worship Services: Reservations Req'd

COVID-19 Comments From Your Council & Pastor

We have resumed in-person worship with two services at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Each Service will be approximately 35 minutes long.  Holy Communion has resumed on the first Sunday of the month (next, March 7th) .

Call Dick Rasmussen at (803) 968-2189 if you need to register one-time larger family group seating (9:00 or 11:00 a.m. service).

2020 Average Attendance
Number of Members: 137
Sunday Worship Before COVID-19 – 75 (55%)
Sunday Worship After COVID-19 – 22 & 40 = 62 (45%)
Sunday School Before COVID-19 – 8
Sunday School After COVID-19 – N/A
Wednesday Noon Service Before COVID-19 – 7
Wednesday Noon Service After COVID-19 – N/A
Bible Study Before COVID-19 – 11
Bible Study After COVID-19 – 6 In Person; 3 Online = 9

2020 Special Services
Ash Wednesday Lent –16
Lenten Wednesday Evening Services Before COVID-19 – 25
Lenten Wednesday Evening Services After COVID-19 – Online
Easter Service – Online
Wednesday Advent Services – Online
Christmas Eve – 34 & 31 = 65

Synod Assembly
When: June 6-8, 2021
Where: Charleston Marriott, 170 Lockwood Blvd., Charleston, SC 29403

Announcements: Reminder - Please remember to coordinate with the Church Office prior to scheduling events so that Valerie may reserve the date and include your event on the Church Calendar.

IMPORTANT: There is now a mail slot in the office door (on the breezeway) across from the library.  Please feel free to drop off your tithes, notes, and etc.

If you are eligible for a COVID vaccine (ages 65+) and are having difficulty navigating online registration, please call the office. We will get someone to walk you through the process.

2021 Annual Congregational Meeting Election Results:

Council Executive Team for 2021
Richard "Dick" Rasmussen, President
Karen Hesselbart, Vice President
Bob Bessel, Secretary
Susan Caulkins (non-voting), Recording Secretary
Treasurer (non-voting), Glenn Hesselbart

Newly elected members of Council (three year term 2021-2023)
Brian Bahret
Judy Pollock
Janet Turner

Nominating Team Members (2021-2022)
Emery McElveen, Chair
Susan Caulkins
Paula Hutchinson
Kimberly Dees

The weekly church office hours are Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Weekly Bulletin & News: Please contact the church office (phone or email) with any announcements or prayer list additions

The Adult Sunday School meets in Classroom #5 at 9:45 on Sunday. We are currently studying "Heaven - Finding Our True Home" (eight week study). If you have questions, please contact Karen Hesselbart at 803-464-4343. All are invited to attend.

Holy Communion will be offered at both services the first Sunday of the month . Maximum attendance will be reduced slightly (44) because of distancing requirements for safe movement during communion. A brief explanation and demonstration of how we will conduct the communion portion of the service will be given before the service.

Devotionals for Lent are in the Library and Narthex.

Members of St. James,
Thank you to all who have prayed, sent cards and given expressions of sympathy during this time when my Mom passed on to glory. It is comforting to know we have such a loving congregation who looks after each other.
Karen & Glenn Hesselbart

I want to say thank you to my St. James family for all of your prayers for me and my daughter-in-law during the time of her sister’s sickness and passing. Also, for my grand-daughter-in-law and the loss of her baby. They were much needed and greatly felt.
Judy Pollock

If you are interested, we will be ordering lilies for Easter Sunday. The cost is $8.00 each and orders must be submitted no later than Wednesday, March 31st.

We will be decorating the cross on the breezeway with flowers on Easter morning (4/4th).

This year, our Lenten Wednesday services will not be face to face but online. You can access them through pastor’s YouTube channel, which you can find by going to YouTube and search for “Keith Getz.” Or, you can go to the church’s website: stjamessumter.org and click on the YouTube link near the bottom of the Home Page. The theme for this year will be The Fruits of the Spirit: Love, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, and Gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23).

Pastor Keith will briefly greet worshipers outside the Narthex after each service. If you need to have a detailed conversation, please give him a call.

In-Person Bible Study is held on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. (Sanctuary).

On-Line Bible Study is held on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. To join Bible Study on Google Meet, click this link:
https://meet.google.com/aqv-uzsp-vxv or open Meet and enter this code: aqv-uzsp-vxv

February Lay Reader Schedule:                                
Feb 28  9:00 AM    Judy Lessard        11:00 AM   Harold Chandler

March Lay Reader Schedule
Mar 07 9:00 AM Susan Caulkins     11:00 AM Lois Heal
Mar 14 9:00 AM Karen Hesselbart  11:00 AM Caroline Getz
Mar 21 9:00 AM JoAnn Bogdany    11:00 AM Sherri Palmo
Mar 28 9:00 AM Ford Kamin          11:00 AM Jimmy Lee

**New** Communion Assistant Schedule (First Sunday of the Month):
Mar 7th TBD

If you will be unavailable on your assigned Sunday, please let Cheryl Schemling (803-499-1050) or Valerie know as soon as possible. (* Change)

March Birthdays
1st Elton Hallman
3rd Cathy Simpson

8th Joyce Diehl
11th Kaitlyn Russell
12th Mary Bradshaw
13th Lindsey Palmo
23rd Eliana Peterson
24th Lionel Viens
27th Connie Hallman
28th Cindy Hamm
31st Grace Peterson

Christ in our Home devotional books for the first quarter of 2021 (January through March) are in the Library and Narthex. Large Print versions are also available. Please pick up your copy today.

DON’T FORGET:
We are all going through very trying times right now. ALWAYS remember, your church family is here for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me (Valerie (803-773-2260 or 803-491-5853) or a church member.

Remember our shut-ins and drop them a note of encouragement to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers:

Mr. Carl Leonhirth—Covenant Place, 2825 Carter Rd, Unit 124, Sumter, SC 29150 (add to your church directory)
Mrs. Dee Osborne—Covenant Place, 2825 Carter Rd, Unit 15, Sumter, SC 29150
Mrs. Shirley Viens—1191 Rockdale Blvd, Sumter, SC 29154
Mrs. Ann Reynolds—National Health Care, 1018 N Guignard Dr, Room #310A, Sumter, SC 29150 (add to your church directory)

Please contact the church office (phone or email) with any announcements you would like to have put in the bulletin.

Pastor Keith Getz may be reached during office hours at 803-773-2260. At times of crisis: 803-607-5956 (Cell); Email - revgetz@yahoo.com. Regular Office Hours: Office hours are Monday thru Thursday, 8:30-12:30am. Please call his cell phone if you need to contact him.

Sermon Text for the Second Sunday in Lent (02-28-21)
Based on Gospel Text: Mark 8: 31-38
[This Week's Sermon follows; mp3 not available due to recording equipment failure]

A lot of times, Lent is mentioned as a journey. And so it is with the Christian life itself. Much like our growth physically and mentally from an infant to an adult, the Christian faith is a movement from infancy to maturity. When we are young, we learn how to act in church. We learn about the rhythm or flow of the service. We learn Bible verses or where things are in the Bible. Eventually, we are able to say the creeds. There is confirmation, where we gain a greater understanding of our faith. We go to Bible studies to better hear God’s message for our lives and understand what he is up to.

Our whole life is about moving closer to God, moving from understanding to greater understanding, from glory to greater glory. A good example of this is the account of Jesus healing the blind man right before Jesus tells his disciples about his Passion and resurrection: They came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to him and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

When Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded: “You are the Messiah.” Like the blind man, Peter moved from blindness to understanding. He knew who Jesus was, that Jesus is the Messiah. But, like the blind man, Peter and the other disciples have only partial sight, partial understanding. Like the blind man, they see partially and are not yet able to see clearly. They know that Jesus is the Messiah, but don’t understand what that means. Like the blind man, who only received partial sight and needed to have his sight restored fully by Jesus, the disciples are in need of fuller illumination.

So, Jesus tries to explain to Peter and the other disciples what being the Messiah means: “Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Peter hopes for a Messiah, who would restore Israel, vanquish God’s enemies, and bring peace to his people. But, he doesn’t understand that all those things and much more will be accomplished by Jesus, the Messiah, not with military might, but by the power of Christ crucified on the cross. From the cross, Jesus will enter into the fullest depths of human suffering and pain and brokenness. He will go all the way to death itself, humanity’s exile from God. And, he will conquer death and sin with the light of God’s amazing love.  Peter does not understand the incredible things Jesus is saying.

God’s ways and purposes are different from our ways and purposes. Peter will not allow Jesus to dash his hopes and dreams. He hasn’t followed Jesus this far just to watch Jesus give up and die on a cross, too much is at stake, and beside all this, he truly loves his friend. And, so, Peter rebukes him. “But turning and looking at his disciples, Jesus rebukes Peter and says, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." Satan tried to tempt Jesus in the wilderness. He tried to lure Jesus away from his mission of self-giving sacrifice on the cross. Peter, too, tries to lure Jesus away from Calvary and the cross.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus will be tempted again to avoid his mission and deny who he is. But in all three temptations, Jesus is victorious and determined to give his life on the cross for the salvation of all. Peter knows Jesus is the Messiah, but he wants Jesus to be the Messiah he imagines. Peter’s understanding is of the devil’s broken world and not yet with the insight of the Spirit.

Are we that different from Peter and the other disciples? Do we tend to dwell on Christ’s divinity as the Son of God at the expense of contemplating on his humanity? Do we seek glory and spiritual growth but are unwilling to go through suffering? When we look around at the world today and our lives, we know that something just isn’t quite right. We have a nagging feeling that things aren’t exactly how they should be. The problem is: we don’t really know what to do to help make things better. So, when Jesus, the Son of God, has the knowledge and power to fix things, we are happy to accept him as our savior, but we have a few conditions.

We prefer that he act in ways that are in-line with our expectations. We want God’s peace without going through suffering. We want to share in Jesus’s victory and glory without personal sacrifice. But what we tend to want is not God’s way. It is a theology of glory and not a theology of the cross. Our way is usually cheap grace. God’s way is costly grace. It is baptism with repentance. It is glory through humbling ourselves to serve others. It is the way of the cross, which is the way of self-giving, life-changing love.

To understand fully, the disciples will have to get behind Jesus. They will have to follow him and let Jesus lead them to the way of the cross. They will have to deny their egos, so they can truly love and live. Jesus tells them and us: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

What does denying ourselves and taking up our cross look like? To deny ourselves, means that God’s will be done, not ours. It means that we let Jesus lead us. We surrender to Christ’s love, so the sinful self apart from Christ can be crucified and the resurrected self in union with Christ can truly and fully live. Through prayer and worship, Word and Sacraments, Scripture and fellowship, Jesus comes to us, beckoning us to follow Him. He bids us to take up our cross, to follow him, and die, so we can live an abundant life filled with the radiance of the Triune God.

What is our cross? It is different for all of us. It is not enduring the daily struggles of life. But, generally speaking, it is the willingness and commitment to be witnesses of the crucified and risen Lord, following Jesus into the depths of human suffering, no matter what the cost to us, and invite others to be transformed and saved through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Before Jesus enters Jerusalem to be handed over to the authorities and die on a cross, he heals another blind man. These two healings that bookend Jesus’s words about his death and resurrection and his journey with his disciples toward Jerusalem, reveal to us that the Christian life is one of partial illumination to greater illumination. It is a process that begins at our Baptism. And it continues during the course of our lives as we daily pick up our cross and follow Christ. It is a life of transformation that comes through suffering for the sake of Christ and the gospel. It is moving from grace to greater grace, being transformed into a new creation, better reflecting the image of God. It is a daily dying of our selfish egos, so we can live a life of abundant love, a life of truly giving ourselves to another.

Amen.

 

Sermon Text for the First Sunday in Lent (02-21-21)
Based on Gospel Text: Mark 1: 9-15
[This Week's Sermon follows; mp3 not available due to recording equipment failure]

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is a fasting time to prepare ourselves for the celebration of our Lord’s Resurrection at Easter. In Lent, we spend more time with Jesus, so we can form new life-changing habits that will help us move into a deeper relationship with God.

Our gospel text in Mark has a lot to say about Jesus, and in many ways, has a lot to say about our life in Christ. First, we receive St. Mark’s account of Jesus’s baptism. Second, we are told the Holy Spirit immediately drove him out to be tempted or tested by Satan in the wilderness. And, thirdly, Jesus goes to Galilee, proclaiming the good news. Let’s look at each of these and see how we can apply this to the Christian life.

Jesus’s empties himself in humility and comes to be baptized by John, even though he had no sin. He does this in solidarity with sinful humanity, taking on our sins. And in the Jordan River, he bears the weight of humanity’s sin and is entombed, immersed, in the water. His immersion anticipates his death, his baptism on the cross, in solidarity with all of humankind, carrying the weight of our sin, the sins of the world. And his coming out of the water reminds us of his resurrection.

Jesus destroys the barrier that separates us from God. His ministry of liberation from sin and death for all people begins at his baptism and will be complete in his death on the cross. As Jesus comes out of the water, we are told that the heavens are torn apart. No longer is there a barrier between God and humanity. And at Jesus’s death on the cross, the temple curtain is torn in two from top to bottom, revealing that God’s presence is in the person of Jesus Christ and through the crucified, risen Lord Jesus Christ, we are healed, our relationship with God is restored, and we have life in the Spirit.

At Jesus’s baptism, his presence sanctified the waters, and instituted Christian baptism. For now on, when one is baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity, the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is there to free us from sin and death, uniting us to Christ’s death and resurrection, and transforming us to be sons and daughters of God. And the Spirit descends on him like a dove, showing that he has been anointed by God to baptize with the Spirit, making us a new creation, restoring Israel and the world.

Like the dove that visited Noah during the flood to announce God’s peace on earth, the Spirit comes down in the form of a dove, announcing the remission of sin and God’s love and mercy to the world. And the voice of God announces that Jesus is his Son, with Him, he is well pleased. God’s words about his Son, reveal that Jesus is also the suffering servant mentioned in Isaiah: 42:1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. And immediately after Jesus’s baptism, the Spirit drives him out into the wilderness. He is tempted by Satan for 40 days in the wilderness, but, unlike Israel, Jesus passes the test. He is obedient and faithful to God and victorious over Satan’s feeble power.

We, too, have been baptized, anointed with the Spirit, named and claimed to be God’s sons and daughters. And we, too, will walk wet from our baptism and into our wilderness. We can expect temptation till our last breath. But we can also expect to overcome our temptations because we have Christ living in us. Through Christ, we, too, are able to live a life pleasing to God.

In Christ, the kingdom of God, his ruling presence of power and love comes in the person of Jesus Christ. And his kingdom comes into our hearts now. Now, the time is fulfilled, the kingdom has come near. We are called by Christ to have faith in Jesus, to put our trust in him. To trust in the God’s good news of salvation. The kingdom is at hand but will not be fully realized until Christ returns.

Jesus calls us to accept this new reality, despite the many ways the world tries to tell us something different. Repent and believe the good news is our response to the gift of a new, restored relationship with God that Jesus offers us. We turn our wills and lives back to God,
trusting he is what is best for our lives, in him we have true life. We surrender to God’s love,
turning away from the rule of the world and allowing our lives to be claimed by the rule of God.

We lay hold of Christ by faith, so through our union with Jesus, we are transformed to be the people God created us to be, a people who are obedient to the Father and who show him and others love. Through our concrete actions of mercy, forgiveness, and love, we show we are children of God and not children of the world.

During this Lent, may we intentionally spend time with Jesus, desiring to be in fellowship with him, so our hearts can be his dwelling place, the kingdom of God. And so we can show others, through our love, that the kingdom of God is here and has come near in his Son, who is embodied in his Church, you and me.  

Amen.

Sermon Text for Transfiguration of Our Lord (02-14-21)
Based on Gospel Text: Mark 1: 29-39
[This Week's Sermon text follows; mp3 recording download link below]

Before the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Jesus calls the crowds with his disciples and says to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up there their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

Jesus’s words are a call away from the trappings of the world that only provide temporary joy and pleasure and ultimately lead to a life of self-love and death. But he calls his followers to eternal life, a life filled with the presence of God and the eternal joy of sharing in the Resurrected glory of the Son. To give his disciples courage that a life of self-giving love and self-giving sacrifice will lead to eternal life, and to fortify their hearts so they can move toward the kingdom of God, which has the power to truly give life through suffering, Jesus tells them: “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” And six days later, Jesus fulfills his promise: He takes with him Peter, James, and John, and leads them up a high mountain, so they can see that the kingdom of God “has come with power” fulfilling his promise to them.

Mountains in Holy Scripture are where God and humans meet. On Mount Sinai, Moses encounters God, and he receives God’s Word, his Torah, his Law. On Mount Horeb, another name for Mount Sinai, the great prophet, Elijah, encounters God. And here, on this high mountain, the disciples experience the sheer presence and glory of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. They experience the full divinity and glory of the Son of God. “And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.”

Jesus’s inner circle of disciples experience heaven on earth, the power of the kingdom in-breaking in the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Earlier, Jesus explained “that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” And he told them that he will come again “in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” And now his disciples witness a glimpse of the glory of Christ’s resurrection and the divine glory of Christ when he returns to transform the world and bring an end to suffering, sin, and death.

4 And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Both Old Testament figures conversed with God, and now they have a conversation with God-the Son about his suffering and death in Jerusalem. Both had experienced theophanies and encountered God on mountains. Jesus talks to Moses, who gave God’s Law to God’s people, and Elijah, the great prophet. His conversation with them reveals to us that Jesus is the Holy One, to whom Moses and Elijah had talked about. He is the one who fulfills all God’s promises and purposes of salvation.

Jesus was accused of transgressing the Law and thought a blasphemer because he claimed to be one with God, to be God. But since Moses gave the Law to the people, Moses would not have shown honor to Jesus if he had transgressed the Law. And Elijah, who was jealous for the glory of God, would not have let Jesus speak to him if Jesus was trying to claim God’s glory for himself as some claimed and was not truly God-the-Son in glory. Earlier, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” And now we see that he is not Elijah. But he truly is the Messiah as Peter declared. And he is the Son of God.

Moses’s face shone when he came down from Mount Sinai because he had encountered God. Jesus radiates and shines before the disciples because he is God-the-Son, the Sun of  Righteousness. Moses was unable to see God face to face, but now he is able to look into the face of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Jewish tradition has it that Moses and Elijah were transported in heaven. Our Old Testament reading tells us of how Elijah “ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.”

And the first century, Jewish historian, Josephus, tells us Jews associated Moses with exultation to heavenly glory. Here, on this mountain, these disciple experience heaven on earth. 5 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." 6 He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Perhaps Peter’s words about making three booths has to do with the Festival of Booths, in which the Jews would build huts to remind them of God’s delivering them from bondage and his providing for them in the wilderness. The festival also had the sense of anticipation. It also looked forward to the Messiah. The prophet Zechariah said that all nations will come and worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and keep the Feast of the Booths.

Light was an important part of the festival. So, it, at least, seems reasonable that Peter thought he was experiencing the glory of the Messiah and his reign over the nations. And given the appearances of Moses and Elijah, he may have thought he was experiencing heaven on earth. We can’t blame him for wanting to stay there, but it would be foolish for him to build tabernacles. No need for tabernacles if you are already in heaven.

And Peter’s words are a blatant disregard and denial of what Jesus had said earlier about his death and resurrection. Jesus’s glory comes only by the way of the cross, which is why Peter is interrupted by God, himself. Like the cloud that overshadowed Mt. Sinai, God’s presence and glory tabernacling in the cloud overshadows them. The overshadowing of them by God reminds us of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, so the Word can become flesh and tabernacle among us. And from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!" 8 Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

“This is my Son, the Beloved, are the words God spoke about Jesus at our Lord’s baptism. They identify Jesus as God’s Son and the Davidic King mentioned in Psalm 2. They also point to the Holy One who would bring God’s gift of the Holy Spirit to the people mentioned by the prophet Isaiah. Jesus is the suffering servant who will rescue God’s people from death and place in their hearts the Holy Spirit. Abraham’s beloved son, Isaac, was spared death, but God’s Beloved Son will give his life on the cross to destroy death and sin forever. And, God commands the disciples to listen to Jesus. Elijah and Moses are no longer present, only Jesus. He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He is the full revelation of God and God’s word of salvation and love for the world.

Jesus, and only Jesus, has the words of eternal life. And Jesus’s word is a word of love through suffering. It is a word of glory through the cross. The fulfillment of Jesus’s mission and destiny is not on the mountain, it is in Jerusalem. To listen to Jesus is to take up our cross and follow him, which is what the disciples do. They follow Jesus and come down from the mountain.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord, but we also celebrate our transfiguration. Jesus was not changed at his Transfiguration. He was already the divine Son of God. What really changed on that holy mountain was the perception of the disciples. They were the ones who were truly changed by the experience. It would take some time before the full impact of what they experienced to effect them.

Our transfiguration begins at baptism and will be complete on the day of our resurrection. And in between baptism and resurrection is our daily drawing on God’s grace at baptism, so we can continue to be transfigured. As Christians, our life is one defined by and guided by Christ’s love for us and our love for Christ.

Each day, through prayer, and studying of Scripture, and living in the fellowship of the saints, and nourished by the Sacraments, we fall deeper in love with Christ. And, Christ, who deeply loves humankind with all his being, continues to transfigure us to be a people of self-giving, abundant love. And as bearers of Christ, as people filled with the light of God’s love, we go out into the world. We show the world that they, too, are loved by Christ, who gave his life, so they, too, could have rich, full, and abundant life and life-changing, life giving love.

Amen.

 

Internet Online Instructions to access weekly online service videos through:

YouTube (Primary)
Open your Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari (Apple OS) or whatever you use).  
At top of page type in YouTube.
Once in YouTube, type in search box at top, Keith Getz.
Find one of my videos and click on it.
Then click button that says, “subscribe.”
Now you will be able to access all my videos and get notifications when a new one has been posted.

Facebook (only mid-March thru 13 September 2020 videos available)
Open your Internet browser (Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari (Apple OS) or whatever you use).  
Type St. James Lutheran Church in the Search box at top or

Go directly to the St. James website (www.stjamessumter.org) and click on the Facebook icon link at the bottom of the page, lower right side.
Then scroll through page to watch individual videos by date or

Open Facebook.com in the URL address line and type in the search box at the top: St. James Lutheran Church Sumter SC.

Please Note : Pastor Keith’s day off is Monday.

SJLS School is Closed for 2020-2021 and 2022-2023. Reopening the school for the SY 2023-2024 will be assessed in late 2021, early 2022 to determine the COVID-19 vaccine program efficacy impact on startup options.

The 2021 Altar Flower calendar is up in the Narthex. Please take a few minutes to reserve your date(s). Altar flowers can be dedicated to remember a loved one or to commemorate a special event, such as a birthday or anniversary. Fresh flowers are always a blessing. The cost for the two arrangements are $54.00 – if you choose, the arrangements may be shared/split between two families.

If you want to send an update or a message for the congregation to be published in next bulletin, feel free to let us know (email the church, leave a message on church phone or call Valerie).

If you would like to have a visit from Pastor Keith, please give him a call or send an email.

During worship, we will be standing for the Hymn of the Day which is after the sermon.

Distribution of Holy Communion—We will be distributing Holy Communion to those who are unable to come up to the Altar first, followed by the rest of the Congregation. Suspended UFN due to COVID-19 precautions based on SC Synod guidance.

When folding the kneelers back up, please try to do it quietly.

NURSERY (Not Available UFN) : We have a nursery available during the 10:00 a.m. Worship Service. Thank you to all of those who have volunteered to assist with this much needed ministry.

Silence (in the Nave): We enter the church in silence, being respectful of God’s house and mindful of those who are already there praying. Also, during the distribution of Holy Communion, we sit in our pews in silence or in silent prayer, acknowledging the sanctity of the moment and being respectful of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

Prayer and Meditation Time—Prior to the service, only the altar lights will be on for a time of prayer and meditation.

As part of our mission to proclaim Jesus Christ in word and deed, the Evangelism team encourages you to be on the lookout for those in your community who are in need and see how you can help make their day a little better. This random act of kindness can be anything from paying for someone’s meal behind you at the fast food drive-through to opening the door for someone. The important thing is to be aware of someone in need and show them the love of Jesus Christ. We have cards located in the narthex that say: “This random act of kindness has been passed on to you by St. James Lutheran Church. Baptized to Serve.” The card also has our church’s physical address and email on it. This is an easy way for us to help those in our community and to show others that St. James and Jesus Christ cares about them. Please pick up some cards after worship if you wish to participate.

ELCA Disaster Relief Fund - If you would like to make a donation to the ELCA Disaster Relief Fund you may do so by sending your check to (or use the Internet DRF link on home page):

Lutheran Disaster Response
39330 Treasury Center
Chicago, IL 60694-9300

 

St. James Lutheran Church E-mail addresses:  The Church Administrative Assistant Ms. Valerie Johnson can be reached at Office: 773-2260 or E-mail: stjamesoffice@sc.rr.com.

COPYRIGHT PERMISSIONS:  Prayer of the Day and other Liturgical from Sundays & Seasons, copyright © 2006, Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission (SB159088).

 

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