Today is Transfiguration Sunday, the Sunday when we read of Elijah being taken up to heaven in a whirlwind and the Gospel passage that depicts the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain top. Both of these sometimes seem to be sort of fantastical, hard-to-believe images. I mean, after all, the whirlwind, the chariot, bright lights, descending clouds, and, of course, Old Testament heroes and prophets reappearing. But, you know, anything can happen on that mountain. After all, it is on the mountain that we can see beyond ourselves; it is on the mountain that everything is illumined in all directions; and it is on the mountain that God appears to us.
We don’t really know if there was a real “mountain” or not. (In all truth, the literal topography just doesn’t seem to work!) For me, a metaphorical one works just as nicely. It is that place where God appears to me. Some people claim to have had one stand-out, quintessential experience that turned their whole life toward God. For me, I have had a series of mountain-top and near-mountain-top experiences throughout my life. None stand out as “the one”, but each one in its own way has redirected me toward God, toward the cross, and has indeed changed my life.
I think that is the reason that we read of this Transfiguration right before Lent. It is our redirecting, our refocusing, if you will, from our ordinary everyday lives toward the Lenten journey–the journey to the cross. In many ways, the Transfiguration is the climax of the human experience of Jesus–the mountain-top experience. And then Jesus tells the disciples to keep what happened to themselves, if only for now. And then the lights dim. There are no chariots, Moses and Elijah are gone, and, if only for awhile, God seems to be silent. And it is in that silence that Jesus walks down the mountain toward Jerusalem. And he asks us to follow. And we can–because now we see the way to go. Because we have truly been changed!
So go forth from the mountain and begin your journey to the cross!
Grace and Peace,