I have come to love Transfiguration Sunday in spite of the complexity of the texts, partly because I get to anoint people with glitter to remind them that the Holy Spirit lies within us all and waits for those moments when it shines brightly for all the world to see. This year the day seems to take on a deeper, more hopeful meaning than it has before. When I read Matthew’s account of what happened on that long-ago mountain top, I understand it to be a culmination of all that has come before and all that could be.
During this Epiphany season the texts have been full of directives and declarations. Everything from “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” to “You are the salt of the earth” and “You are the light of the world.” Epiphany this year has been a call to action, a call to bring Christ into the world by loving our neighbors as ourselves. I suppose that even my understanding of these texts has been heavily influenced by the political climate here in the U.S. However, I do believe this call echoing through this season is real for all of us.
And Transfiguration is the culmination of this call. If we go out and actually do justice, love kindness, and walk with humility, then extraordinary things become possible. We might just find ourselves in an out of the way place witnessing the intense and overwhelming glory of God. The brilliance of the Holy Spirit might sharpen our vision and cause our hearts to beat a bit faster. We might even hear God affirming that the neighbors and strangers for whom we are seeking justice are, in fact, God’s beloved children. It’s possible that radical shifts in perspective happen when we respond to God’s call.
Maybe you haven’t had such an experience as you’ve worked for justice and you assume that this story is just metaphor, pointing toward some mystery of faith. Perhaps you’ve missed an experience of transfiguration because you were the one transfigured. If you have been working for justice for your neighbors or creation, it’s possible that someone has caught a glimpse of the Holy in you, and you were completely unaware. It’s possible that you were in the right place at just the moment when someone needed Light and they saw it in you. And they were like Peter, James, and John – grateful, fearful, amazed, and humbled. We just never know.
It doesn’t matter which side of transfiguration you’ve been on, really. Because it’s engaging in the work of justice that really matters. It’s responding to God’s call to love one another that makes the difference. When we work together to embody Christ, to be Church, then that Holy Light shines to remind us that we are not alone in the struggle to overcome suffering and oppression for all God’s people.
RCL – Year A – February 26, 2017
Psalm 2 or Psalm 99
2 Peter 1:16-21