On Valentine’s Day, I tried to order heart-shaped pizzas from Boston Pizza. I guess lots of other folks had that idea too, as their online ordering system crashed and no one would pick up the phone at our local BP. So we ordered from another place and from the time I left to get the pizza to about 12 minutes later when I left the pizza shop, the weather had gone from not snowing to a full-blown white out.
I followed that up with a harrowing drive to Confirmation on the Perimeter Hwy (thanks for that suggestion Apple Maps GPS…).
It was all a potent reminder that even though our weather has been spring-like, winter is far from over in Manitoba.
In many ways Transfiguration Sunday, with its vivid story of Jesus going up the mountain with two disciples to be transformed into a divine figure surrounded by Moses and Elijah, is sort of like that spring-like time of mild weather in February –a respite. From Advent and Christmas through Lent and Easter, the pace of life in the church is busy and gets progressively heavier until Holy Week.
Particularly, before we jump into the Lenten journey to Holy Week and the Cross, the Mount of Transfiguration offers a high-point vision that evokes the Risen Jesus and the Ascended Christ to come.
The Transfiguration is an important hinge moment that holds Advent and Christmas together with Lent and Easter. It moves us from the story of the Incarnation and the Messiah being born into the world to Jesus’s work of Salvation and Resurrection.
And yet, that mountaintop moment of Jesus’s Transfiguration is a tempting place to want to stay. Just like a mild winter without much snow to shovel is a thing we would love to be in full time, rather than a five-day respite from the cold and wind and snow.
Similar to Peter, who wanted to build a dwelling on the mountain, we like the idea of a Church that looks and feels like the Transfiguration moment. The bright shining glory-filled moments feel good, safe and attractive. But it isn’t the norm.
We know that the norm of faith and the day to day of life is a lot more like the journey of Lent – the wandering through the wilderness, the struggle to get from place to place, the uncertainty at where we will find ourselves at the end. Few days are spent on the mountaintop in life, but many are spent in the wilderness. This is true for communities of faith, for families and neighbourhoods, for nations and peoples.
And while Jesus is TRANSFIGURED on the mountaintop, he was always the One who is revealed to be – he was always God come in the flesh. It is only his appearance that is changed this Sunday.
In the process of faith, in the journey of Lent, through our time spent in communities of faith, we are TRANSFORMED. In the waters of baptism, through the hearing of the Gospel alongside our siblings in faith, through the Bread and Wine made Body and Blood, we are changed to our very core. Transformed from sinners into God’s beloved, made holy and righteous by the One who meets us with forgiveness and grace.
The mountaintops feel great; they are respite for the moment. But it is along the way of faith that God is making us into new creations, into the people that we were first created to be in Christ.