Transfiguration Sunday is one of the major events of the church year, the glorious culmination of Epiphany, the season of light. It is one of the most wildly hopeful and light-filled services of the year.
Jesus and two disciples climb a mountain, tired from overwork, stressed from conflict, dirty from living on the dusty road, sweaty from the heat, and when they get to the mountain top the disciples suddenly see Jesus transfigured from that struggling human into a brilliant, shining being of light, his true, pure Spirit shining through, and they see other beings with him, Moses and Elijah, the law and the prophets, guiding him through the dark, hard time ahead to the resurrected life beyond. Then a cloud covers the mountain top so the scene is lost in fog and they hear a voice saying, “This is my son, the chosen one. Listen to him.” The fog lifts and the perfectly imperfect human Jesus is standing before them, and they return to the struggle.
Transfiguration Sunday comes on the eve of Lent, a time of intentional, ritualized struggle, a symbolic wilderness and dark night of the soul that the church leads us through on our way to the crucifixion on Good Friday and the next brilliant light on Easter dawn. Transfiguration Sunday is like that cliché gas station on the edge of the desert, your last chance to fill up with gas and food and water—we fill with the light we need for the Lenten crossing.
One of the messages embedded in the structure of the church year is that we need to fill with light to help us through the valleys of the shadow of death that we inevitably go through in life. Another is that without a vision, the people perish or at least fall into confusion, as Proverbs says. We need to see the ideal as the disciples did on the Mountain of Transfiguration and hold it before us to guide and uplift us during the hard times.
So it is fitting that we will be having a congregational meeting after worship to do just that—to fill ourselves with a vision of the church transfigured into its intended ideal as “a force, not merely a presence, effecting positive social change for peace, justice and the care of God’s creation.” You can read more about the meeting in our newsletter by clicking here. You can read the notes of the two previous conversations leading up to this one by clicking here.
We urge everyone who can to attend the meeting. The service will be designed to help prepare us both to enter Lent and to go to this congregational mountaintop and gain a beautiful and hopeful vision of our path ahead through a world that is in the midst of a wilderness, dark night kind of time.
We will read a medley of passages from the Psalms and II Corinthians about the beauty and power and triumph of God’s light shining through all creation, and we will hear the story of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:23-36). We will sing “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” and a new work in progress, “Someone Needs to Show the Way” sung to a beautiful, familiar tune. The choir will sing the South African “Siyahamba (We Are Marching in the Light of God)” and the congregation will join them on a Civil Rights Movement version of “This Little Light of Mine.” Pianist Nicole Johnson will play three light-filled movements from J. S. Bach’s French Suite No. 6.