Grace and Peace to you.
He led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!”
— Matthew 17. 1-5
A mountain top, a man shining with light, the appearance of great leaders long dead, a bright cloud, a voice from heaven—let’s face it: there’s just no explaining the Transfiguration. Peter tries to contain it—and we join him—trying to put it in a box, make it fit, make it “mean something.“ But it doesn’t.
Sure, it’s a vision of the Risen Christ appearing in glory, and an image of Jesus as the light of the world and the completion of the Law and the Prophets, and so on. But really, it’s about this one thing: mystery. There’s power, and there’s glory, and there’s the story of the journey to freedom with Moses and the revelation of the Truth by Ezekiel. But mostly there’s just mystery. This is where the philosophers can only say, “Hm,” and the theologians, “Oh;” while the saints cry, “Ooh!” and “Aah!
We follow a mystery. We are allured by wonder, led by inexplicable light, claimed by a grace that defies all logic and transcends all understanding. We let our minds, as tools of control, rest. We let our confidence in knowing what’s going on take a sabbath. Instead we gaze. We go to the place where we are in the dark, where the Voice that speaks us says, “Let there be light.” We seek the faith that is a willingness to be overwhelmed, and a trust that the unknown is benevolent. We stand in silent wonder until our hearts catch fire, until we ourselves are transfigured by astonished delight. When we die and stand before God in judgment on on our lives, the great cry of faith is not our beliefs, but the song of the saints, echoed by the angels, raised by all Creation. It is simply this, a cry close to the sound of “Yahweh,” the name of God: Wow.
Life is mystery. Faith is trust in it. Stop trying to explain it, Peter, and simply let it be. Be in awe. Be at a loss for words. Be amazed. Pay attention. Don’t miss it. Listen.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes