Only a few weeks ago we celebrated the coming of Light into the world in the form of a tiny baby. Epiphany was a moment of revelation—an “Aha!” Here at the close of this season of revelation, we arrive at the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration.
In each scripture reading this week we find light. The star of Epiphany has strengthened and blazes forth in the vision of Elijah’s fiery horses and chariot charging into the heavens. In our psalm, God the judge arrives with a devouring fire. In Second Corinthians, our hearts are illuminated with the glory of God. And in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus appears in the dazzling light of the Transfiguration.
We are here in the transition between God’s revelation in Christ and the road leading to Jerusalem. We have left our nets to follow Jesus, and we have no idea where we will end up. We are following our teacher into the thin places—those mysterious spaces in which heaven and earth are close. Where are the thin places you find yourself?
In recent months, I have journeyed into the thin places of three human beings facing their final hours. I don’t know why it was me who ended up in these holy spaces. This is not a regular part of my job. I’m not the pastor of a congregation, a chaplain in a hospital or hospice. I seemed to be there in a ministry of presence, to hold space, to pray, sing, and witness to the presence of the Holy One.
Each of these experiences was powerful and profound. Each contained moments of revelation of the power of God’s love that knits us together in our mothers’ wombs, that meets us at the doorway to death, that offers comfort to loved ones and a gentle, “Welcome, faithful one. Let me walk you home.”
God of light, walk with us into the thin places of transformation. 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. The 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 2 Kings 2:1-12. Think of a time when you waited for a blessing from God. How did the waiting feel? How did you experience the blessing when it came?
Read Psalm 50:1-6. What helps you to be aware of God’s presence with you from “the rising of the sun to its setting” each day?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. What are the areas of your life where God is shining a light? Are there any areas where you may be blind to the light?
Read Mark 9:2-9. Identify a spiritual “mountaintop experience” you have had. What was the lasting impact of that experience on your life as a follower of Christ?
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