Transfiguring~The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI
Y’all! The most exciting thing happened yesterday! I was out with Ginger (our Sheltie), and I saw a butterfly! I love this time of year here in the desert! Yes, the weather is wonky with snow one day and temps in the upper 60s the next, but we get signs that spring is well on its way! Our tulips are breaking ground and our irises are showing! Things are changing!
Speaking of changing, here we are in the second week of the Lenten season. For many folks, the weeks leading up to Easter are all about penance and “giving up something for Lent” and eating fish on Fridays. For others of us, these weeks are about working on making new and better habits, adding additional studies of the scriptures, and trying to be more and more like Jesus. At any rate and in any case, we focus on “changing” ourselves during Lent to make us better people, better followers of Jesus, and better “spreaders of His love.”
In other words, we work to transfigure ourselves. The dictionary tells us that the word “transfigure” means to transform into something more beautiful or elevated. Kinda like that butterfly I saw; you know, yucky worm like caterpillar to beautiful butterfly?
In the Gospel reading appointed for today, we read in Matthew of “The Transfiguration of the Lord”: Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Whoa. Can you even imagine seeing something like that? Of course, instead of constructing tents like Peter wanted to, we would quickly be updating our status on Facebook, or posting like a gazillion pics on Instagram. Or just as likely, our fingers would quickly be flying across our keyboards and phones, sending out Tweets about what an awesome time we had hanging out with Jesus.
When we talk about THE Transfiguration, we usually focus on Jesus and how he was “changed” for a bit into something more “dazzling and heaven-like.” Peter, John, and James witnessed a rare sight, the Transfiguration or change, of Jesus. Just as we strive to experience change during these days of Lent, so did Jesus on top of the mountain. But what I find interesting is that these men still recognized Jesus as, well, Jesus. Though He was clothed in “dazzling white”. He was the same teacher, and friend, that these gentlemen had always known. They recognized Him still, and were humbled by the change that manifested in Him at the time.
But how much more so were the disciples who were with Jesus changed? They witnessed Jesus’ Transfiguration, as well as a booming voice in the cloud declaring exactly who Jesus is, and are instructed to listen to Him. Whoa again. Can you imagine? No? Me either. Often times when the going gets rough and I’m walking on wobbly stones in my faith, I often ask God, “Give me a big ol’ sign, show me you are You.” Well as you can imagine, that doesn’t happen. And honestly, if it would, I wouldn’t be so sure that I could even believe my own eyes.
Yet, don’t we all strive to witness the true face of God, to see with our own eyes that He really is just who He says He is, and can do what He unequivocally declares to be done? As we read in the Bible, true visitations by our heavenly Father are rare. But He is still just as real to us today as He was so long ago on top of that mountain.
As we use this time to manifest changes in ourselves, as we strive to develop a deeper relationship with our blessed Father, let us never forget that He is right here with us. He is sitting at the kitchen table as you sip that first cup of coffee. He is standing in the checkout line at the store. He is in the car on our daily commute home in the evening. And, He is there when we finally decide to put our daily cares to rest, and before we close our eyes at night, whispering “Thank you God for another day.”
And, more importantly, He is expecting us to prove that He is with us to the folks with whom we come into contact every minute of every day of our lives. Remember, there is not one person on this planet who God does not love. Who Jesus didn’t die for. Yes, even that…….….fill in your own blank. Democrat? Yep. Republican. Yep. Trans person, gay person, bigot, other-race person, criminal, gossip, and irritating next door neighbor? Yep. Yes. Affirmative. Positively. Absolutely. Yep, and yes again. We who claim to love the Lord, must show that love. I’ll say it again, you are the only Jesus some folks will ever see, the only Bible some folks will ever read. We must show that we have, indeed, been transfigured.
Let us pray:
You met with Moses on the top of a mountain, and when he descended his face was shining. In your power he brought your laws to a needy people. You met with Christ on top of a mountain, and he was transformed with brightness and descended with renewed strength. Lord, we want to meet with you and be transformed by you, and to bring your transformation to the world around us. Help us to bring your presence to the lives of those burdened with sickness or pain,
and those weighed down with confusion or grief. Bring your healing touch to those lives today, nd let us support those we know who are in need with a constant friendship. Help us to bring your change to a troubled society, where people are unsure of so much and where change comes so fast. Give us the grace to understand people’s problems and anxieties and the strength to tackle difficult issues head on. Help us to work together to transform a needy world, whether through giving or educating or leading by example. Give us the wisdom to see through big and complex issues and the love that will keep us going when problems are overwhelming. Help us to always be a beacon for you, Individually and together. We don’t stand on any lofty mountain but we have a God who is changing us every day and through whom we can reach out to change a broken world. Be with us today Lord and help us take whatever step is next for us. We ask this through the power of your love.
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