Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” 8And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17: 1-9)
I am thinking about all of the ministry, all of the good that he did in those short years. He was so good to those that had believed in him and had followed him through so much. And they were so devoted. And, slowly, slowly they began to understand what I did—that this man was the very essence of God, that this man was the Word made flesh. It was hard for me to understand and I had actually had that incredible encounter with the angel. But for those who followed him, these were men and women of faith, men and women who chose to put themselves aside and do God’s work. They had not had a dream with an angel or one where God spoke to them. They had not seen the brilliance of that star that shone over Bethlehem and seemed to point to what had happened. These were ordinary people who had families and lives but who believed that they were a part of something beyond themselves.
I was not there that day when Jesus led some of them up to that mountain top. I was not there when he was changed into light right before their eyes. I was not there when God intervened. I was not there when all of the Law and all of the Prophets and all of history came spilling into our ordinary lives on that mountain. But to hear Peter and James and John describe it, it was amazing. I was not there but it was still my story. And I realized in that moment that God’s coming did not begin with me. I realized that I was blessed to be a part of it, an instrument that God called to be a page in a story. It was a story that had begun to be written long before I was born and one that will continue far beyond me. But I think that it was there on that mountaintop that it all came together. And the brilliance of it all was more than any of us could take for very long. Sometimes we have to look away and begin writing to grasp it at all.
And then Jesus descended the mountain with the faithful at his side and headed into Jerusalem. I would have liked to stop it there. I would have liked to find a way to freeze the frame of the story, to close the book and protect the pages that were already there. But the story had to go on. I understand that so well now. And the faithful understand that. The faith-filled men and women since the beginning have understood that they are not the story but that the story is incomplete without them. So they find their voice and they find their faith and they walk down the mountain with our Lord. We all have a page to write. The story would go on without it, but God would rather have them all.
But whether small or great, and no matter what the stage or grade of life, the call brings up the curtain, always, on a miracle of transfiguration-a rite, or moment, of spiritual passage, which, when complete, amounts to a dying and a birth. The familiar life horizon has been outgrown, the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand. (Joseph Campbell)
FOR TODAY: What is on your page?
Peace to you as we come closer to that holiest of nights,
One thought on “With the Turn of a Page”
We, the choir at St. Paul’s UMC, are preparing to sing the words and music of the nativity. God enters our lives in a new and glorious way. Larry
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