What is the difference between Transfigured and Transformed?
This Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday. It is the third in the revealing feast days - Epiphany, Baptism, and now Transfiguration. But what exactly does it mean?
Years ago on a family vacation, we were walking on the beach, late afternoon, sometime before dusk. This was the only safe time that I could be on the beach, after all ... We had planned this camping trip with several other families, and some of them were walking with us. We all watched the waves drive up the beach, pause, and flow away as we walked. There was a certain meditative repetition to the motion. It was calm, soothing, peaceful to walk here, with the salty smell of the ocean permeating every breath. Suddenly, my sister, with an intent grin, darted ahead a bit and did a pirouetting dance for joy. One person in the party was fast enough on the camera to have a record of the last triumphant flourish. The expression on my sister's face was indescribable. Many of us in that walking party speculated that my sister had seen something wonderful that the rest of us had been unable to see, and the only way she had of expressing her joy at what she saw was to dance. It was either that, or she was incredibly bored with the walk. Through my sister's dance, though, we felt we had seen something so pure it was mysterious, and our reactions predictably ran the spectrum between awe, skepticism, and comic relief, in very similar fashion to how the disciples reacted to the strange experience on the mountain top with Jesus, the experience we call The Transfiguration.
Transfiguration itself refers to a change in form or appearance, and the root, transfigure, simply means "to transform into something more beautiful or elevated," so transfiguration is a specific form of transformation. We are all constantly transforming: change clothes, cut hair, those are transformations. We are about to delve into the season of Lent, a time to evaluate what in our lives keeps us separated from God and try to feel that we are able to draw closer to God through various disciplines, be it fasting, meditation, prayer, or extra volunteer work. The hope is through the various disciplines of Lent we may transform ourselves into more spiritual, or more spiritually aware, followers of Christ's message. The irony is God is with us already. If we feel that we need to draw closer to God, the barrier is in ourselves, not God.
So, what do you feel separates you from God? How can you transform that barrier into a bridge?
~Rev. Andrea Joy Holroyd