You are never the same again.” I have heard that statement from parishioners who have encountered utter holiness—the glory of God. Often it comes at the endpoints of life: seeing a first child born or holding her for the first time or being present for a parent’s last breath and holding him for the last time. People experience a level of almost frightful awe and wonder over God’s nearness in the moment and what it means going forward.
Peter stands speechless in light of the transfigured Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. If that light is not terrifying enough, the cloud of Mosaic encounters overshadows them and the voice of God echoes and elevates the declaration made at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” No doubt they will. After the theophany, the three disciples can never be the same again.
But what will the change look like? How will they be different? Mark does not tell us; the drama rushes on to the next scene. What we do know is that the disciples receive space to think about it. Jesus orders them to keep their experience confidential until after the Resurrection sometime down the road. For now, each one of them will have to ponder for himself, What does this mean for me and my life? What can I learn and take with me, even though I will be forever altered?
If Jesus is transfigured—transformed more clearly into the image of God—then so will we be. This is the Creator’s promise confirmed in our baptism. We are yoked to the transfigured Christ who seeks to transform us, one grace-filled encounter at a time. We stand on the cusp of a Lenten season, acknowledging that we too can be gloriously changed forever.
Lord, overshadow us with your presence and your call to listen, ponder, and live a life transfigured for you. Amen.
In the week leading to Transfiguration Sunday, the texts all deal with holy, transforming light; but they also speak to the awkwardness of waiting for and finally experiencing that light. Elisha’s is a stop-and-go pilgrimage before he sees the chariots of fire. Our psalmist proclaims the march of the sun across the sky while also waiting for the eschatological arrival of God’s justice for God’s people. Paul empathizes with the believers in Corinth who are having to wait and work to “give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up a mountain where they wait and are terrified by the cloud of glory that overshadows them.
• Read Psalm 50:1-6. If your life was like the sun arcing across the sky from sunrise to sunset, where in the daytime arc are you right now? What justice would you like to take part in creating before your life sets in the west?
• Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. In what areas of your life do you feel blinded to the light God wants to shine there?
• Read 2 Kings 2:1-12. Think of a time you have felt most blessed by God. How long did you wait for that blessing? Was it worth the wait?
• Read Mark 9:2-9. Recall your last "mountaintop" experience with Christ. How would you describe it? How did that experience change you?
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