My all-time favorite opening sentence from a work of fiction has to be the first line from Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. It goes like this: “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
Kafka proceeds in a perfectly deadpan fashion to describe the sad fate of this transformation of the life of Gregor Samsa.
This morning we read in a work of non-fiction, the Bible, about a transformation even more astounding – and that is the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ. Even when you know the true nature of Jesus Christ as both God and man, you can’t help but be amazed and startled when He reveals His true nature for even a short time.
The fact is, that though we don’t see the Transfiguration of the physical body of Jesus Christ, we do have an opportunity to see the glory of our Lord every day.
First, we see Jesus Christ transfigured through His Creation. Like Jesus in his human flesh, who looked like an ordinary man, this world looks “normal.” It doesn’t seem like anything special.
But it is!
It’s full of God’s glory, but a glory hidden in the ordinary. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote that “The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.”
I see the glory of God in the gigantic horned beetle that my kids gave me for Father’s Day one year. I see the glory of God in the giant, beautiful quartz crystals my son Charlie and I found at Coleman’s Mine a little north of Hot Springs.
It’s there in the rainbow that God makes out of nothing more than light and water and air; and it’s there in a single drop of dew on a single blade of grass. It’s all over, once you begin looking for it.
I see the hidden glory of God in the Bible. From the outside, it seems like an ordinary book. It is bound like other books and has pages like them. It’s name means simply “The Book.”
But the glory of God is in these pages, not just in places like Mark 9 but throughout the whole book. Whenever I meditate on it, whenever I treat it like the Word of God and not just another book or not just something to be studied – the glory of God streams into my soul.
But there is still a more excellent way to see the glory of God, and that is in His people, the Church. You all look like ordinary people to the people of the world, and in some ways they’re right. But you, like Jesus, are vessels for the glory of God. Every once in a while, it is manifested for the world to clearly see.
Some of you may have been transfigured quickly, and you are the easiest kinds of transfigurations to see. But most of you have been transfigured slowly, day by day and year by year. It might even look to you as if you haven’t been transformed or transfigured at all.
But look at yourself this way. First, look at your life from the time you were born and try to imagine what it would have been like without Jesus Christ in it. You would have started at the same point, but little by little, sometimes more noticeably than others, you would have grown into someone who did not love God – someone who thought, spoke, and acted very differently than you do now.
If you have given your life to God, reflect, now, on your life as you have lived it with God. Now take that life and speed it up so that it flows rapidly before your eyes. Speed it up even faster and faster, until it all passes before your mind in a few seconds. If you were able to do this, for some of you it would look like the explosion of a supernova! For some of you, it would be like seeing the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ: you would see it as a life miraculously transformed by God!
In fact, that’s exactly what we all are witnessing, whenever we are privileged to see disciples of Jesus Christ grow in grace and truth: we are witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ, as He indwells His people.
Do you want to see the glory of God?
It’s all around you – in His Creation, His Word, His Sacraments, and His People.
But don’t gaze at the transfigured glory of Jesus Christ as an idle spectator. God expects you to be transfigured by what you have seen.
He expects your life to be transformed, as were the lives of Jesus’ disciples.
You won’t write a book of the Bible like Peter did. But every day you have the opportunity to be a personal Transfiguration of Jesus Christ to all whom you meet.
So behold and see the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ!
And then allow God to so transform you that you yourself become an instrument of His glory and transformation for others.
Prayer: O God, who on the mountain revealed to chosen witnesses Your only-begotten Son wonderfully transfigured, in white and shining clothes; Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the worries of this world, may be allowed to see the King in His beauty, who with You, O Father, and You, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, world without end. Amen.
Meditation: Take one of these 4 ways of seeing Christ transfigured – in His Creation, Word, Sacrament, or People – and meditate upon it. How do you see Him in this hidden way? How has He blessed You by His presence in this way? Practice continuing to see Him this way throughout the day that you might better train your mind to see Him in all things.
Resolution: I resolve to look for Jesus Christ today, in His Creation, in His Word, and in His people.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day