Whatever changes we may hope for in persons, church or society acquire a transcendent meaning only when they participate in the dynamic reality that has broken into the world in Christ. It is instructive that the most dramatic instance of change in the New Testament is a change in the physical figure of Jesus himself.
Kurt Vonnegut, the renowned writer and self-avowed humanist, once said that his epitaph should read, “The only proof he ever needed of the existence of God was music.” I wonder if Vonnegut had been listening to Franz Jackson; hearing Jackson on the saxophone would inspire such a statement.
Transfiguration Sunday is the highpoint between Epiphany, when the
mystery is suddenly transparent, and the resurrection, when the
ultimate epiphany breaks through what we had imagined was the full stop
of death. Last year on Transfiguration Sunday our congregation hosted
the Rivercity Gospel Jazz band.
The vagaries of the calendar and the cycles of the moon bring in an early Lent and Easter this year, and so the transfiguration has come early too, cutting short the season of Sundays after Epiphany. Unexpectedly, we find ourselves back up on the mountain with Jesus. We were just there to hear him describing those who populate the kingdom of heaven. Now he returns, not with all the disciples this time, but only the insider troika of Peter, James and John.
The transfiguration story is dramatically staged on a mountain peak
lit with a bright, even blinding light. The mountain setting is
familiar: as an Arizona native, the landmarks of my world were Squaw
Peak, Camelback, North Mountain and South Mountain.