God’s glory on the mountain is “like a consuming fire” (niv). Scripture often associates fire with God’s presence. But God’s fire isn’t destructive. It’s transforming. It consumes, yes, but to purify rather than to destroy. Glassblowers, chemists, bakers, and jewelry makers use fire to fashion beautiful, life-giving things. God’s glory is not the fire of anger. It’s the flame of love, the tender desire to change us by the alchemy of God’s mysterious grace into something more pure, beautiful, strong, and useful.
The fire of God is not tame like a little campfire where we can make s’mores. Awesome and fierce, it burns out of our control. When we try to bend it to our own aims, it consumes us. But it burns for the sake of new creation. The furnace of God’s love roars about our hearts, melts our old forms, burns away impurities, and softens us to make us new.
Whatever Moses experiences on the mountain changes him. The experience of God’s presence transforms us. As frightening as it sounds to my ego, I want that. I want God to burn away all the old junk that is not really me, like gold being refined. I have to trust that God’s fire won’t destroy me but will cleanse me. I have to stop hanging on to my old ways. I want the warmth of God’s presence to melt what is hard or brittle in me. I want the heat of God’s grace to change the chemistry of my heart, to bake me into something life-giving, to mold me into a new shape. May the fire of God remake me into a vessel of love. And let that light, that new beauty, that divine glory shine in me forever.
God of light and fire, burn in me now and always. Make me into your new creation. Amen.
The Transfiguration is a striking manifestation of the union of humanity and divinity in Christ. In Exodus, Moses goes up the mountain to meet with God, and the divine presence on the mountain is like a consuming fire. The psalmist says that the presence of the Lord shakes the earth. In Second Peter the author declares that the truth of Christ’s message is affirmed by the glory that surrounds Jesus on the mountain and the voice from heaven that confirms his authority. In Matthew’s account, the revelation of the glory of the divine son of God on top of a mountain causes the disciples to fall down in fear. Moses and Elijah are present, demonstrating the continuity of Christ with the prophets and the always overwhelming splendor of God’s presence.
Read Exodus 24:12-18. When have you experienced God’s cleansing and transforming fire?
Read Psalm 99. How has God led you through darkness?
Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. How can you be attentive to the light of God in the world around you?
Read Matthew 17:1-9. When have you experienced God’s love shining through you?
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