gtrax

What are we to make of the story we call the “transfiguration” of Jesus?  Well for starters, let’s unpack what that word means.  Basically, in the original language of the gospels (which were written in Greek), it means metamorphosis.  Put in simpler terms, it means: Transformation. You can read Matthew’s version of the story here, which we’ll be exploring on Sunday.

When I’m working with youth they usually have a lot of questions about this story, and generally, they really like it.  I think they’re often attracted to it not only because of God’s awesome light show (God has this thing for special effects…clouds, walls of water, fiery pillars…).  I think they love it because the truth of who Jesus is on the inside is revealed to his friends by what they see on the outside. And what a sight it is to behold!  In some ways that is so the struggle of youth…and of us older folks if we’re vulnerable enough to admit it.

For me, the power of this story has always been in the church’s desire to ask…what if we could see one another in a different light?  What if we could see each other, not as this or that gender, race, class, age, sex, orientation, and all the other “lesser lights” that really, reveal our ineptitude and ignorance.  Like Paul said: those lights only let us see as through a mirror dimly.

What if we weren’t afraid to see one another as we really are, even with all our burdens and cares and insecurities…and discover we are loved and cared for anyway?

What if we could see a way to be that vulnerable and trust one another and our relationship with God that much so that it could sustain us no matter what’s happening in our lives?

This light, this Christ light, is a totally different vision altogether.  It’s the way we’re called to see one another and who God calls us to be in the world.  It’s a light that isn’t just revealed when we’re riding the high of our mountain top moments when everything is just swell…but when we’re down in the valley’s of our fears and doubts too.  This light shines in the darkness, and it’s not going anywhere.  This light isn’t afraid to die because its radiant love shines eternally for us all.  This light shines for everyone, not because of who we are, but because of whose we are.

That’s what Peter has such trouble with.  He loves Jesus.  Who wants to see someone they love, suffer?  Jesus has let the disciples know that once they go down the mountain, he’ll not only suffer but die and then in three days…resurrection.  Peter doesn’t really hear much of that last part – doesn’t understand it yet.  But those first two parts he knows all too well.  Remember this is the Simon Peter who lived a very difficult life before following Jesus (not that living with Jesus was easy though…) and whose mother in law was close to death (Mark 1:29-31).  Peter life is full of loses as many of our lives are too and he doesn’t want to see another one – especially Jesus.

We usually make this story rather thin by saying Peter is just so happy about this amazing vision he wants to built monuments to Jesus, Moses, and Elijah (who are the rock star celebrities of the bible after all – don’t kid yourself, you’d be giddy too).  The more serious scholars look at the relationship between what Peter wants to do and the festival of booths (click here).  I think Peter’s actually motivated by fear – he doesn’t want to see what will happen to the one he loves.

That can be deadly in and of itself.  When we allow our fear of suffering to prevent us from seeing what those we love are going through, things get worse, not better.  If you attended Ron and Lori’s workshop on Teen Mental Health in the Fall River area at St. John’s on Thursday night…you know what I’m talking about.  Fo