Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.
Transfiguration is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, and occurs before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Lent is a 40-day journey into contemplation, a reckoning with who we are and to whom we belong. Lent ends with a death, and with new life on the other side of that death. But it can be terrifying. I think that we are given this story of Transfiguration as a foretaste of the feast to come, to provide us with encouragement on the journey of Lent. That Christ is God-with-us and God-among-us, and is dazzling with the light of heaven. Yet, this glimpse of the face of God is terrifying.
I met with a hospice patient last week who stated that she is excited to meet God and yet she is terrified. This about sums up my feelings about meeting God too. What might be revealed about God? What might be revealed about me to God? The transfiguration scene is one in which Peter, John and James are with Jesus on a mountaintop. In a scene of chaos and confusion, a cloud overshadows them and a booming voice comes from the cloud says, “This is my son, my chosen; listen to him.”
What sticks with me about this text is that the voice comes FROM WITHIN the cloud. They are not alone. They have never been alone. Even as we stare down a journey of which we cannot see the ending, the season of Lent, but also a metaphor for the life that we live here on earth, we are not alone. After the voice has spoken, it is Jesus who is there. The Son of God is present on that mountaintop and present here with us even today.