The common theme of today’s readings is metamorphosis or transformation. The readings invite us to work with the Holy Spirit to transform our lives by renewing them during Lent so that they may radiate the glory and grace of the transfigured Lord to all around us by our Spirit-filled lives.
"His face shone like the sun;” Matthew says, "and his garments became white as light." Moses and Elijah were talking to him. There was a bright cloud overshadowing him and out of it a voice saying, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." The three disciples who witnessed the scene "fell on their faces, and were filled with awe" (Matthew 17:1-6).
It is as strange a scene as there is in the Gospels. Even without the voice from the cloud to explain it, they had no doubt what they were witnessing. It was Jesus of Nazareth all right, the man they'd tramped many a dusty mile with, whose mother and brothers they knew, the one they'd seen as hungry, tired, and footsore as the rest of them.
But it was also the Messiah, the Christ, in his glory. It was the holiness of the man shining through his humanness, his face so afire with it they were almost blinded. Even with us something like that happens once in a while.
The face of a man walking with his child in the park, of a woman baking bread, of sometimes even the unlikeliest person listening to a concert, say, or standing barefoot in the sand watching the waves roll in, or just having a beer at a Saturday baseball game in July. Every once and so often, something so touching, so incandescent, so alive transfigures the human face that it's almost beyond bearing.
So today, as you remember the transfiguration, let down your guard – and let yourself be changed. Remind yourself that for thousands of years, God has worked through ordinary people; and hold onto the bold and radical truth that today, God is working through you.
Let your faith change you so that you can go out into the world and not only proclaim the Gospel, but live it out as well. Beam with the light of the glory of God and shine that light into the world. Let is shine so that you will continue to be changed, let it shine so that others will be changed and let it shine so that the world will be changed – one person at a time.
God never meant us to live on the mountaintop. I wish the gospel story told you the next Biblical story after the Transfiguration. This next Biblical story is never included in the lectionary series, and I feel badly about that because the next story is the key to the transfiguration story.
The disciples and Jesus came off the mountain, and they came right down to the bottom of the valley. They came off the mountain and they came down into the valley and they found a boy who was having epileptic seizures. The mother and father were enormously upset and worried about the desperately sick boy, and the little boy fell into a fire and burned himself.
In other words, the disciples came down off that mountaintop right into the problems of real life. Home from a mountaintop vacation and into the real world at home.
And the disciples discovered that God is also down in the valley and does not live only or even primarily on the mountaintop.
A little boy was out in his front yard, throwing a ball up in the air. An elderly passerby asked the boy what he was doing. He replied, “I am playing a game of catch with God. I throw the ball up in the air and he throws it back.”
I am in no position to comment on God’s ability to play ball, but I do know that whatever goes up must come down. There may be exceptions, such as Charlie Brown’s kite! But as a rule, whatever goes up must come down.
The process is so predictable that you could refer to it as a scientific law. The same process applies to our religious lives. It is a good thing to “go up” to a great experience with God, but we will become greatly disillusioned if we do not remember that eventually we have to “come down” again. John Thomas Randolph, The Best Gift, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
I like the quotation by Henry Drummond, the Scottish theologian when he said, “God does not make the mountains in order to be inhabited. God does not make the mountaintops for us to live on the mountaintops. It is not God’s desire that we live on the mountaintops.
We only ascend to the heights to catch a broader vision of the earthly surroundings below. But we don’t live there. We don’t tarry there. The streams begin in the uplands, but these streams descend quickly to gladden the valleys below.”
You and I experience the valleys of life. You and I both know what happens the next day coming down from the mountain. It is the real world and the real life. After Sundays of life, there are always Mondays.
You know, the tough ones of life. God is with us there.
During this season of Lent, Jesus invites us to go up the mountain with Him. The mountain experience is being with Jesus in prayer. It is prayer that strengthens our faith and opens our eyes to see God and have a glimpse of heaven.
Let us have more quality time to pray and to listen to Jesus. Then there is nothing to fear for we know God is with us now and for always.