Learning to see in new ways is one of the most difficult tasks of the transformed life. Old habits of selective vision, old choices about what to leave out and what to focus on tend to dominate us, even as we search for new ways of living that are in closer communion with the life of the Spirit. Transfiguration--that mysterious transformation of vision that is narrated in today's readings--is a radical, if brief, way of illumination.
I spent my early childhood on the high altiplano of Bolivia, where we took for granted spectacular views of mountains and lakes. I hiked the hills, explored caves and played among the Incan ruins. My siblings and I would accompany my parents by boat to villages and towns scattered around Lake Titicaca.
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.