Friday, August 6, 2010

The Feast Day of the Transfiguration of Jesus

Today is the Feast Day of the Transfiguration of Jesus, the day that celebrates that mountaintop experience, where Jesus becomes radiant and Moses and Elijah appear; God speaks at the end, giving approval to Jesus. Those of us in Protestant churches are more used to celebrating this day just before Lent begins.

Peter's reaction always interests me. He offers to build booths. They'll charge admission! It'll be great!!

His reaction seems so human to me. Many of us wrestle with this very trait, this need to transfigure every event into a capitalist one. How can we make the most money? Even in the presence of God, Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, Peter can't focus on the holy, because his mind keeps darting towards his need to make money.

We are in the part of the lectionary that reminds us to resist that urge towards paying attention to money and not to God. These are lessons that are always timely for most of us.

Those of us who are attuned to history might also have World War II on the brain today. It's the anniversary of the day that the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, an act that was blinding and transfiguring in so many ways.

As a poet, that incident, that desire to harness the power that comes from splitting atoms has a potent symbolic power. As a Christian, the idea of transfiguration also has power.

Today is a good day to think about what distractions, atomic, cosmic, or otherwise, take our attention away from God. Today is a good day to think about mountaintop experiences and how we navigate our lives when we're not on the mountaintop.

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