Transfiguration

This evening the Church of the Holy Trinity is hosting the 4 Episcopal Parishes of St. Joseph County in a joint celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration. We’d love to have you join us! This feast has intrigued me ever since I became aware of it as a young adult in the early 90’s for at least two reasons.

First is the way it confronts the numinous—weird, mystical, “we can’t even begin to explain this”—divine nature of Jesus that we so often distract ourselves from by focusing too narrowly on His role as a teacher.  The gospel reading states baldly that two supposedly dead/removed to heaven prophets appear on the scene, while all three readings speak of a mysterious shining. Talking clouds float—if “float” can be used regarding such emphatic clouds—in and out of the picture. We add our own clouds of praise and incense to the mix, as if to say, “Yes, this is really weird, and we can join into the weirdness without having to explain it all away in a vain attempt to pretend the world is under our control!” It’s that false sense of control that gets us in trouble all too often.

That brings me to the second thing that intrigues me about this feast, namely the ambivalence many people express towards it. I was struck by that this morning as I received my “Daily Devo” from the Forward Movement.  Now don’t get me wrong, I usually enjoy the Daily Devo.  Today’ devotion, however, skipped over the whole part about what happened among Jesus, Moses and Elijah in order to focus on Peter’s desire to make shelters. That desire was held up as an example of how we “get comfortable” with our mountain top experiences and need to “leave the mountain and go down to the valley to spread the good news.” I couldn’t help but wonder whether rushing to get down the mountain that fast was perhaps an attempt to avoid the loss of control the mountain top experience often signals.

The fact of the matter is that we need the mountain and the valley. The God who is revealed to us on the mountain shields, sustains and inspires us in the valley. No, we cannot remain in our booths (though we often overlook the fact that booths are by definition temporary dwellings), but neither can we sleep through or skip over the scary, holy stuff that makes us who we are.

Come, take some time to go up on the mountain to pray. You never know just who might show up.

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