The Transfiguration: Luke 9:26-3
Today, August 6th, is the day the Church observes the Transfiguration. Did you know that all 3 of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) include a version of this event? John’s Gospel does not include this event because for John God’s glory revealed in Jesus is not centered on a single event, but is rather manifested throughout his life death and resurrection. Perhaps John didn’t want to touch it simply because of the questions regarding interpretation of the event and its significance.
One of the most common themes used for preaching on this event is Peter’s response: “Master it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings…” I believe his response is so easy to grab onto because for many of us we can empathize with Peter. For a brief moment it seems all that they had been doing with and hearing from Jesus made sense, life made sense, the world made sense in that moment for Peter. Seeing God’s glory revealed and getting affirmation through the presence of Moses and Elijah that the law and prophecy support Jesus and his mission; that the past, present, and future all became clear on that mountaintop, surely we can understand Peter’s desire to stay. For a moment there was clarity.
I admit to being drawn to Peter’s response, both in past encounters with this text and today; especially today. In a world that is experiencing an ongoing pandemic that is changing the way we understand how we live together as well as how we see ourselves as the Church; in a world where climate change is bringing more and more destruction through severe weather; where social unrest is found in nearly every community across this nation and throughout the world. In such a world like ours no doubt we all want a little certainty in our lives; for a moment, Peter got it. He saw on that mountain that God had a plan, that victory would be won, and that through God’s Son God’s glory would be revealed in the world. “All’s good; I’ll stay right here. Thank you very much.” We cannot blame Peter for wanting to hold on to that moment. I’m certain we’ve had those moments in our lives where it all made sense, even if for a brief time.
But of course we know that Jesus does not stay, neither does Peter, and neither can we. We go out into a world that does not make sense. We are living through a pandemic that is pulling at the threads of how we understand ourselves to be the Body of Christ in the world, wondering what will come next.
Yet with all this uncertainty we are given confidence to go out into the world knowing that God has the full picture in view; through the Transfiguration Peter and the rest of us are given a glimpse. It is that glimpse that sustains us. It is that glimpse that tells us all we need to know of God in Jesus, that through him the victory has been won; that God will be with us in what comes next, whatever that is. We can be confident in this truth because through God’s Son on that mountaintop it has been revealed and for that, today, in this world, I give thanks.
The Rev’d Adam Pierce