On Sunday we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday, the peak of the church season we call Epiphany, which we have been celebrating since Christmas.
The season began with the wise ones who followed the light of a star to the city of Bethlehem where they met the infant Jesus. Epiphany is a season of revealing, and we’ve been seeing hints of the presence of God with us. Or, put another way, we’ve seen glimpses of the light that has come into the darkness – a star, a dove, a baptizer’s voice.
But on Transfiguration Sunday we emerge into full sunlight. We see the full glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s as if God pulled back the veil and for just a moment we get to see the complete and indescribable majesty of Jesus Christ.
For Jesus’ disciples it’s a moment that recalls the consuming fire of the presence of God that the Israelites first saw at Mount Sinai, having just been freed from slavery in Egypt.
It's the ultimate mountaintop experience, not just for Peter, James, and John who were with Jesus on the mountain, but in the church year too. Because for this moment, we glimpse Jesus in all his glory, seeing what it means that Jesus is both fully God and fully human. Reminding us that God came to be with us in the person of Jesus Christ. And so, it makes sense that Peter, and perhaps us too, would want to stay there on the mountain forever.
And yet, in just a few days, on Ash Wednesday, as season of Lent begins, we enter the wilderness, the opposite of the mountaintop. In that way Transfiguration Sunday becomes something of bridge that moves us from the season of revealing to a season of seeking.
But perhaps it is also a promise of what is to come. Because at times the journey through Lent will feel long, and maybe bleak; it might even feel hopeless. And yet, Jesus’ transfiguration gives us a glimpse of his glory that is still to come. It won’t look anything like we expect, but in a few short weeks Jesus will be raised up, first on a cross, then from the dead, and eventually as he ascends into heaven to take his rightful place before God.
The season of Lent begins on Wednesday, February 22 with Ash Wednesday, which will include both the 24-Hour Prayer Vigil and Worship (with the imposition of ashes). I hope you’ll make plans to join us not just for Ash Wednesday, but for the whole season of Lent. Below you’ll find more information about everything that is happening this Lent!