Scripture - Luke 9:43 - And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.
Quote - Harry Emerson Fosdick - Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable.
I'm sure that monday and tuesday's devotions were a bit challenging. The spiritual practice of recalling our pain and admitting our fears is not easy. But now we are fully prepared to experience the shocking and surprising joy of the Transfiguration, which I would suggest is another celebration of the Incarnation. What have we been prepared for? The interruption of pain and fear by the glorious new creation not only promised by God, but made present with us through Christ.
Jesus takes Peter, James & John on a hike up a mountain to pray. Amazing and miraculous things happen. Moses and Elijah, long departed from the earth, suddenly, impossibly appear. And Jesus begins to glow and flash like lightening. If we are honest, this might be the moment when you begin to wonder how on earth this story could have anyting to do with practical matters like pain and fear. You wouldn't be alone. We are witnessing an event, a phenomena that is rare to the point of being singular, it is easy to doubt that this happening could have anything practical to offer to us in our times of need.
In the Advent and Christmas seasons we sing 'Hark the Herald, Angels Sing.' And one of the lines that we sing is 'veiled in flesh the Godhead see.' This moment we witness, with Jesus glowing on the mountaintop in the presence of Moses and Elijah, the unveiling of the Godhead. We see Jesus revealed. But not just Jesus, we see the future God has planned and prepared. The new creation, the reign of peace and justice is revealed (that is what Moses and Elijah symbolize). And even more, not just the future that is to come, that future impacts the present. The future is now. Which is probably why Jesus gets testy when the disciples still remain grounded in their fears and doubts. They have seen the future and its powerful intrusion in the present and still they succumb to doubt and fear.
But here is the point. The Transfiguration is a gift. Peter, James and John, three key leaders of the early church, in the midst of their fears and doubts are given a glimpse of the future and its impact on the present, so that they can serve with energy and face risk and sacrifice with courage. They are given empowerment and courage because they see the glory that is to come, the glory of God's reign that they can take some small but still significant part in preparing the world for. Pain and fear and doubt are interrupted by this gift. Which leads us to the question, what if we were not compelled or constricted by fear and doubt, but instead, by the gift of hope because we have seen the glory to come? What if we could see not only the struggle, but also the reward of our service and sacrifice and then respond with energy and courage? That is the key question that this story urges us to ask ourselves. Are we compelled by fear or by faith? And if by faith, what risk are we being charged with taking in order that the future glory of the Kingdom of God can be glimpsed in the present?
Prayer - The story of your Transfiguration is so far outside our normal experience, it is difficult to even believe. Forgive us for the temptation to dismiss the gift that is meant to raise within us wonder and awe. For these are gifts meant to inspire our courage to serve and follow faithfully. Use this amazing story to inspire our hope and our imagination. Use this blessed vision of the glory to come, to embody in ways grand and simple, the glory of the Kingdom of God, here and now, no matter the challenge or risk.