Last Sunday after Epiphany :: Transfiguration

Matthew 17.1-9

Sculpture Garden 2009-07-11 018 - Version 3

Transfigured Shadow

“Every once and so often, something so touching, so incandescent, so alive transfigures the human face that it’s almost beyond bearing.” (Frederich Buechner, Whistling in the Dark)

How well I remember that Christmas Midnight Mass those many years ago. The chorus of voices packed into the small church intoned familiar carols that spread warmth through that frigid December evening. The candles of Silent Night illuminated the grateful faces of worshippers reflecting the joy of wonderment. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed movement. Ruth was joyfully dancing to the tune accompanied by the guitarist sitting near her. She wasn’t singing, at least not the kind of singing we would associate as singing. Even at thirteen years, Ruth wouldn’t have been able to read, much less sing, and the words she fairly shouted wouldn’t have been discernible anyway. Ruth was a special needs child. Her dance and voice that night was the gift of Heaven. The look on her face revealed an awareness of God’s Spirit to which only a few are privy. For but a moment — all too brief in her otherwise deeply difficult life — her entire being was transformed by God’s presence. And in that moment those of us privileged to be there were transformed as well — by her.

We read the familiar account of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain and think that such events only happen to “holy” people (whoever “holy” people are!). We think that something major has to occur for such an event to take place. After he is proclaimed as Messiah by Peter, Jesus tells his disciples about his fate: to be handed over to those who would kill him. Days later comes his transfiguration when God announces Divine pleasure in this most beloved of children. It’s a big deal. Jesus’ face shines from within. His clothes become dazzling to behold. An intensely luminous cloud overwhelms the observers. Heck, even Moses and Elijah are present. This is a very big deal!

But, expecting such events to be right out of a Hollywood movie set, with all the attendant sounds and lights and action and famous people, we often miss those more subtle moments of transformation — of transfiguration. Like a special thirteen year old girl, letting her spirit connect with God.

Something to ponder: Where have you witnessed transfiguration?

Link to RCL Lectionary for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany.

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