Transfiguration of our Lord Lectionary Reflection
February 10, 2013
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as through reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Some folks just seem vividly alive, almost glowing, and full of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Maybe you know someone like this, a person whose life is so well grounded in Christ’s grace and love that she or he appears unfazed by the storms of life, radiant in the face of adversity, eyes and heart always fixed on God. Surely this person has dwelt in the presence of the Divine.
These everyday Christians don’t live in La-La land. They experience both the hills and valleys of life; they know pain and joy, suffering and sadness, elation and love. Yet no matter what curve ball heads their way, they continually nourish their relationship with the Lord of all Creation. They have seen the glory of God, encountered the wholly Holy, and tasted and seen that the Lord is good.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to paint a picture of some otherworldly saint. These folks are simultaneously saint and sinner, very much aware of their brokenness and imperfections, but they keep their eyes on Jesus. They reflect his glory and are transformed into walking witnesses. The more time you spend around a person like this, someone who has been changed and transfigured by the amazing grace of Jesus, the more you see an image of Christ reflected through them.
Ask them how they got this way, and they’ll likely not be able to tell you for sure. Instead, they will simply point to Christ as the author and perfector of their faith, as the one to whom all glory and honor are due. They will take no credit and will probably be embarrassed you even asked.
Remember Mary Magdalene’s song “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” from the hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar? She sings “I’ve been changed, yes really changed.” Mary was confused, bemused, yet made different by her encounter with Jesus. And so are we.
Moses’ face was so radiant from his time with God that the people couldn’t bear the brightness and the glory. Peter, James, and John were awestruck by Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop. Their lives were forever altered by the experience; they were changed. We can be changed, too, by encountering God deeply and regularly. In fact, I believe that it is impossible to be in deep relationship with God through prayer, worship, study, service, fellowship, and sharing and not be transfigured.
We may not glow in the dark or sparkle like Edward Cullen in the sunlight, but our individual and corporate lives of faith will be a shining witness to Christ and a reflection of divine love. We will be changed, and in the process we may help others to experience change in their lives, too.
Imagine an entire congregation being transfigured into a powerful and bright witness, a beacon of light and warmth for a weary, cynical world. What if we took Paul’s words to the Corinthians to heart: “Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness.” What if we become catalysts for change and willing participants in the transfiguration of each other and our entire communities of faith? We have the call. We have the presence of the Spirit. We are baptized. What is to prevent us from becoming something new, something bright and beautiful?
Martin Luther said, “This life therefore is not righteousness but growth in righteousness; not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not what we shall be but we are growing toward it; the process is not yet finished but it is going on; this is not the end but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory but all is being purified.” We are being changed. Thanks be to God!
Explore what it might mean for your worshiping community to be transfigured. The gospel lesson for today doesn’t stop with a mountaintop experience. Jesus and the disciples got right back down to the work of ministry–in this case healing a possessed boy. We may plan and vision and dream, and that is all well and good, but our vision must have hands and feet to carry it forward. How is your congregation doing that now? What might it do in the future? Invite worshipers to discuss these questions in small groups.
Check out this story about how one congregation, St. Bonifice Church in San Francisco, has opened its doors to the homeless population through the Gubbio Project.
It can be tough to be a follower of Christ in a world that wants to follow so many other things. For this reason, Paul’s words to the church at Corinth are good words for us today. Discuss the epistle lesson (2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2) giving particular emphasis to the last two verses. How can these two verses help us to live faithfully in the world? What advice/instructions does Paul offer to believers? If you have time, consider choosing a movie that illustrates this theme to watch and discuss. Options might include the animated films Tangled or Toy Story 3. For older youth consider the 2010 documentary St. Misbehavin: The Wavy Gravy Movie or Les Miserables.
Gather together enough pairs of sunglasses so that each child has a pair. You might check with your local theatre to see if they can donate some 3-D glasses. Discuss with the children why we wear sunglasses–to protect our eyes from bright sunlight and harmful UV rays. Remind them that it is important to never look directly at the sun because it can damage their eyes. Tell them the story of Moses and how his face was so bright that the people could not look at him directly. The good news for us is that we don’t need sunglasses in God’s house. We can see clearly without them, and we can even see the face of Jesus in each other. But sunglasses are still fun! Invite the children to personalize their glasses with stickers, paints, or other craft supplies if you have time.
Photos: © Mopic – Fotolia.com, © Howgill – Fotolia.com, and © Paulus Nugroho R – Fotolia.com.