Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year C: Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white…. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. —Luke 9.29, 32-33
In the Christian tradition on this Last Sunday after Epiphany, we remember the Transfiguration, that intense religious experience Peter, John, and James had when they went with Jesus up to the mountain to pray. We do not really know what happened, but we know there was an intense unnatural brilliance which startled and awed the men. The dazzling white of Jesus's face, his clothes, his whole being happened as he was praying. And then Moses and Elijah appeared "in glory" and the three of them discussed Jesus' departure.
Impetuous as always, Peter was so deeply touched by the experience, he wanted to make three dwellings and put Moses, Elijah and Jesus in them and keep them there forever. As soon as Peter uttered those words, the Great Voice came from the cloud saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him!"
To be transfigured is to be transformed into something more beautiful, more elevated. It happens out of the blue; it is startling, frightening and daunting. It has nothing to do with external beauty...no, it happens so deeply within that it is untouchable. I can understand Peter's desire to freeze the frame in place! But it is not a sustainable event...It is a blessing which requires a life-changing response. And so Peter and John and James came down from the mountain having heard the voice of God telling them to focus their attention and obedience on Jesus. We know the rest of the story which includes the disciples's ongoing struggle to stay transfigured, even though they heard the voice of God...not surprising we experience the same struggle!
One of the very best descriptions of Transfiguration is in Jan Richardson's poem "Dazzling." It is included in her newest book Circle of Grace which I highly recommend and can be found on her website. See the link below.
Blessings as we all struggle to be transfigured and stay transfigured!
Dazzling A Blessing for Transfiguration Sunday
Believe me, I know how tempting it is to remain inside this blessing, to linger where everything is dazzling and clear.
We could build walls around this blessing, put a roof over it. We could bring in a table, chairs, have the most amazing meals. We could make a home. We could stay.
But this blessing is built for leaving. This blessing is made for coming down the mountain. This blessing wants to be in motion, to travel with you as you return to level ground.
It will seem strange how quiet this blessing becomes when it returns to earth. It is not shy. It is not afraid.
It simply knows how to bide its time, to watch and wait, to discern and pray
until the moment comes when it will reveal everything it knows, when it will shine forth with all that it has seen, when it will dazzle with the unforgettable light you have carried all this way.