Transfiguration

Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 17:1-9:

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and 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!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Get up and do not be afraid.’ And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, ‘Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

A lovely morning in church today. Pretty worn out though after nearly four hours! Pushed myself a little too far today I think, but coming back to tablets that gave me a bit of strength back I’m feeling physically improved. And spiritually it was worth it! Lovely hymns and sermons and handshakes and hugs and smiles and laughs and sharing… all good. There are a lot of icons to be found on GoogleImages portraying the Transfiguration of Christ, but I decided, being awkward and precise, to photograph the one above, as I’m now enjoying the afternoon in my comfy armchair reading again from The Dwelling of the Light: Praying with Icons of Christ – Rowan Williams (Pgs 4-5) where I found this icon…

(See picture above.) The dark background against which Jesus is shown is something you will see in other icons as a way of representing the depths of heavenly reality. In the transfiguration, what the disciples see is, as you might say, Jesus’ humanity ‘opening up’ to its inner dimensions. It is rather like the Hindu story of the infant Krishna, told by his mother to open his mouth to see if he has been eating mud; she looks in, and sees the whole universe in the dark interior of his throat. So the disciples look at Jesus, and see him as coming out from an immeasurable depth; behind or within him, infinity opens up, ‘the dwelling of the light’, to borrow the haunting phrase from Job 38:19. Mark 1:38 reports Jesus as saying that he has ‘come out’ so that he can proclaim the good news; and John’s Gospel too uses the language of coming out from the depths of the Father (John 16:27-30). Belief in Jesus is seeing him as the gateway to an endless journey into God’s love. The often-noted fact that icons show the lines of perspective reversed, so that they converge on your eye, not on a vanishing point in the distance within the picture, is a way of telling us that, once again, what is true of Jesus lies at the heart of all this style of painting: we are being taught to look through into the deep wells of life and truth.

Ah yes. His light shines in our hearts. His light shines in our lives. He is the Light of the World. And we are the disciples, learners, finding God’s Light in our lives.

The phrase comes back to me again… Shine as a Light in the world, to the glory of God the Father.

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