We pray in the words of the Psalmist: Let your loving-kindness O Lord be upon us, as we have put our trust in you. Indeed, our heart rejoices in you for in your holy Name we put our trust. Amen.
Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said.
While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
2 Peter 1:13-21
I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon,. . . For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven, while we were with him on the holy mountain.
I have a confession to make.
As we know, confessions run the gamut from embarrassing to terrifying. While the latter would certainly paint a portrait of me as a dramatic and mysterious anti-hero so popular these days, it would also be a false portrait. Sadly, my confession is heavily weighted on the embarrassing side, and therefore embarrassing to confess. However, confession is good for the soul, so I will get this done and over with.
I have a dog with the attention span of a gnat. It doesn’t bother him. It bothers me so I make fun of him. That is not nice. “Oh, Lord. Make my words sweet and tender today because tomorrow I may have to eat them.”
Today, I ate my words. At the very beginning of our scripture reading from Luke, I confess that I exhibited the attention span of a gnat. The moment I heard the part about Jesus’s face changing and his clothes turning dazzling white, my mind was off on gnats’ wings, flying in swirling vertical twists and turns in the bright lights of my daughter’s upcoming wedding.
Easily you can understand how this might happen. My little girl will be dressed in a gorgeous white gown on her wedding day and she will be dazzling. As beautiful as her face always is, it will be extraordinarily aglow with happiness. That’s how it is with brides.
That was one confession.
I have another confession, as embarrassing as the first. While my dog and I obviously share the attention span of a gnat flaw, I confess that we share another trait. Once you give us a bone, we will not give it up. Ever since my mind went astray on that Sunday morning closest to Transfiguration Day, I have not been able to let it go. The more I thought about it, the more comparisons I saw between Jesus’s transfiguration and weddings.
For example, transfiguration events are extraordinary in that they change, transform, and elevate everyone and everything involved. Jesus was elevated from friend and miracle worker to Son of God. The bride and groom are elevated from friends and lovers to husband and wife.
Then we have the venue. Luke simply identified it as the mountain. When Peter wrote of the same mountain years later, he called it the Holy Mountain. It was sanctified when it became the destination of a transfiguration. It was made holy. When a couple plans a wedding, they search for the perfect venue. Whether it is a church or a mountain or a coastal garden, it will be their holy place.
Like Jesus, they will invite friends and family to witness their life-changing transformation. Jesus invited Peter, James and John, and his special guests of honor Elijah and Moses who had his own Mount Sinai moment. I imagine Elijah and Moses as Jesus’s groomsmen, discussing what lay ahead for him, – his life, death, life again; the good and the bad; the importance of knowing who he is and the promises he will keep. Words of wisdom and guidance from men who walked that path, they are much like the words young grooms hear from mentors on their wedding day.
Transfiguring events call for preparations to commemorate the time and place they occur, which was what Peter wanted to do that day on the mountain. Our soon to be marrieds can understand Peter’s drive. After they have found their venue, the work begins: caterer, photographer, wedding party, attire, music, invitations, officiant, registries, websites, showers, bachelor and bachelorette parties; in other words, stress, stress, and more stress. And just like Peter was momentarily distracted from what was happening in his presence, young men and women can be transformed by the demands of a wedding into bridezillas and groom-divas, distracted from the significance of the moment.
When Peter, James and John were distracted, God sent a cloud that covered them, separating them from everything they knew or thought they knew, leaving only silence in which to hear God’s voice telling them, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him.” In that moment, Peter, James, and John were stunned into silence, as they too were transfigured. Their lives would never be the same. They would follow Jesus to the cross, to the grave, and beyond. They would become the cornerstone on which a new church would be built, a church Jesus would claim as his Bride there on the holy mountain with his own Father officiating a heavenly wedding.
When we celebrate the transfiguration of Jesus, let us consider the holy moments of transfiguration in our own lives. It was on that mountain long ago that we became the bride of Christ. We were transfigured from people simply living out our lives, into the church victorious. Like his disciples, we too will walk the path to the cross, to the grave, to his resurrection and his coming again. We will walk our own path as well. There will be spectacular moments, baptisms, confirmations, weddings, and funerals. There will be quiet moments so personal that only we will feel them. Big or small, may they transform us into something higher, something closer to God and to those he has given us to love. We can only trust that in the moment of our final transfiguration, Jesus will not be distracted. His thoughts will not fly away on gnats’ wings in swirling vertical twists and turns in the bright light of his heavenly splendor. No, He will come for us. He will hold us in his arms, name us as his beloved bride, and take us to our home with him.
Indeed, our heart rejoices in you for in your holy Name we put our trust.