Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying. While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.
- Luke 9:28b-36
"Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying..."
Do we notice that this story which we refer to as the transfiguration of Jesus takes place while Jesus was praying? We've spent some time already this Lent reflecting on prayer and even more time practicing prayer. We have talked together about prayer as the act of becoming present to the God who, even now, is waiting for us to notice that God is always present to us. We have considered the throat-parched cry of the desert prayer; we'll be there, in the desert with Jesus again, before Easter arrives.
But this week we are on the mountaintop. We, with Peter and James and John, are invited to watch and learn from Jesus who has climbed to the heights to pray.
It is in the midst of this mountaintop prayer that Jesus, like Moses (Exodus 34:29ff), radiates the light of God's presence. Like Moses in the tent of meeting (Exodus 33:11), Jesus approaches God face to face (cf. Hebrews 9:24), and Jesus invites his disciples -- us -- to do the same.
There is something about being in the presence of God that shows in my face. I look different, even if the difference fades. There is a glory in me that, when it encounters the glory of God, shines out of me like a light. I become like a lamp in the darkness, a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14).
The dark world needs my light. When I am shining, I become a sign to the nations, promised in Isaiah (49:6). I become a part of the solution that God always intended to insure through Israel's Messiah. I am equipped as part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12) to participate in the work of reconciling the broken world -- healing, loving, forgiving.
It is no accident that Jesus transfigured appears clothed in "dazzling white," and we, at our baptism, are likewise adorned. We put on the promise of transfiguration. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18:
And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.We are the mirror image of the glorious face of God. We are called with Christ to be the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Do we believe it? Do we believe that when the light shines from our faces, it is God that people see?
For Entering In...
- Spend a few moments becoming present to yourself. If your mind is preoccupied, allow the thoughts to come and to go. Notice what you feel in your body, in your heart.
- Invite God to be present with you.
- Reflect on these questions:
- What have been mountaintop experiences in your life? What are the times when you have glowed with joy or wonder or peace or delight?
- Choose one or more of your mountaintop experiences. Ask yourself, when you were there, on the mountaintop, where was God?
- Sometimes it can be difficult for me to see my own light. Can you think of a time when you saw someone else's face aglow with the glory of God? Who was it? What were the circumstances? How did it make you feel?
- How have others been touched by your light? Has there been a time when you knew you were shining God's light into the world? What was that experience like for you? Was there something about that experience and your role in it that stands out for you?
- Make a list of the ways in which God has gifted you. What are the talents that you bring to the world? Can you give humble thanks to God for inviting you into God's healing work?
- As you finish this quiet time, take a moment to connect with your soul and enjoy the goodness that God has created in you.