Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Feast Day of the Transfiguration

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.  Orthodox traditions celebrate today.

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.

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.

We're also approaching the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon's impeachment hearings and resignation.  We just passed the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.  Both of those historic events show people trying to harness power in destructive ways, and both have reverberations into our current day.

As a poet, all of these historic anniversaries have 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.  Today is also a good day to meditate on power and how we seek to harness it and how we use power once we have it.

Today is also a great day to celebrate the transfiguring power of God.  After all, not all uses of power lead to destructive explosions.  Some times, we find redemption.

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