Welcome to Transfiguration Sunday, a time to consider Jesus’ true nature and learn about how we can also be transformed. We’re invited to embrace God’s marvelous Spirit so that none of us remain stuck in life’s low places.
The lectionary focuses on Luke 9:28-36, where we find Jesus trekking with three of his closest friends (Peter, James and John). These four were in for a hike up a mountain whose location and name are unknown today. Jesus had taken trips on, around and on top of all sorts of terrain, and yet he and his companions would soon be caught-up in something unique.
Once on the mountaintop, Jesus did something extraordinary. The evocative word “transfiguration” describes what happened when Jesus revealed his spiritual DNA. We already knew that God was Spirit, but here we witness Jesus’ radiant glory. “[A]nd his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white” Matthew 17: 2). Such fantastic imagery sparks amazement.
The marvelous scene didn’t end there. Next, Moses and Elijah appeared talking with Jesus. These two Old Testament prophets, dead for hundreds of years, were seen having a private chat with Jesus. Upon seeing this magnificent trio, Peter responded by suggesting construction of three religious monuments, or mini-temples/shrines. It’s understandable that Peter thought this was a holy place. We humans like to create sacred spots as places of pilgrimage and worship. God must not have liked Peter’s idea because the Almighty’s voice pierced the air to direct attention back to Jesus. After hearing God’s thunderous words, Peter James and John fell to the ground as if fatally struck. When they recovered, Moses and Elijah had vanished and Jesus told his disciples to not spread news of what happened on that mountain.
Do you wonder what the transfiguration means today? The transfiguration is so beyond our ordinary experience that it risks losing meaning. The transfiguration wasn’t long-lived, suggesting that transient nature of peak spiritual events. While on earth, we don’t seem made to withstand continual exposure to overpowering stimuli. Nonetheless, people of faith are empowered with God’s Holy Spirit, the source of wonders. What is the miracle of God in your life?
Everyone eventually comes down off the mountain. Once returned, Jesus’ band met the harsh reality of peoples’ sufferings as do we. Our relationship with God can elevate us above our problems and remind us that we’re aspiring to a destiny greater than life’s low places. We don’t need to be caught in some life-sucking abyss because God elevates our spirit. Further, Jesus’ shining suggests that spirit is far greater than what appears externally. It makes sense from the perspective of science and physics to describe our spirits as a form of energy. Whatever the case, does God energize you?
Let’s contemplate how the power of spirituality can shine through us beyond the façade of physicality. We don’t have to trek up a mountain to shine. Our faith activates our glowing witness here and now, such that we are beacons of hope for a dark and hurting world. It is also reassuring that our true, spiritual substance is similar to Jesus’ and that this is what it means to be made in God’s image.
As tempting as it is to covet dramatic experiences, our challenge is to remain motivated and energized regardless of life’s elevation. Being addicted to highs is not the way. We’re invited to celebrate God’s glories while also attending to life’s responsibilities. We can yearn for and achieve a more vibrant connection with God. What has God revealed to you on your journey?
As you consider spiritual renewal, think about your potential to energize your faith and shine forth as a guide to those seeking God. You might experience a form of transformation that forever changes you. As a child of God you’ve already been revitalized from soul-sleep to a spiritual awakening. As you continue your journey, let your light so shine that people will see God’s radiance through you.
–Reverend Larry Hoxey