The Rev. Canon Laura Howell
Trinity Church, Bethlehem
Peter, James, John, Moses, Elijah, Jesus: what greater collection of worthies could there ever be, gathered in one place? And over it all, the voice of the Creator, booming out, proclaiming Jesus to be the Chosen One, the Son of God. Awe-inspiring. Terrifying. Like the three apostles, I would have fearfully thrown myself down on the ground, wondering if this radiance presaged the end of the world. I would have been certain of it when I understood that the Two speaking with Jesus were our most revered prophets, returned from Paradise.
And yet. They have to pick themselves up and go back to every day life: to caring for the animals, keeping track of the children, finding food for themselves and those who travel with them as the Rabbi continues on his speaking and healing tours…all the while, treasuring in their hearts the precious vision that is so real, everything else is two-dimensional in comparison. No wonder, they did not talk about what they had seen and heard, even if they could have found words for it.
I have always understood Transfiguration as one of the goals of the Christian life: to be with Jesus so intimately, that we can see him face to face, as he truly is, in all his glory. I hope that from that experience, our spirits will also glow with reflected light, as Moses’ face did from the time he spent with God on Mount Sinai. What a blessing to travel together, in the light we share in Christ. As Psalm 84 for the Eve of Transfiguration says:
4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.
6 They will climb from height to height, and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.