Rev. Katherine Todd
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.
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.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
These images of light and darkness weave through our scriptures. As we see in this scripture about Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop, Jesus’ face shines by the sun, his clothes dazzling white, because Christ is in fact, the Light of the World.
Light helps us see.
Light exposes dirt and grime.
Light helps heal diseases that grow in darkness.
Light makes new life grow.
And Jesus Christ does all these things too!
Through Jesus, God’s heart is revealed.
Through Jesus, God’s justice is realized.
Through Jesus, we see just how far we stand from God’s holiness and righteousness.
Through Jesus, we are healed of the sins that weigh us down and separate us from God.
And in Christ, we are set free to grow into our identities as children of the Most High God.
Jesus is light.
And Jesus’ disciples get to glimpse this truth that day on the mountaintop.
It is everything they have believed and hoped against hope. Their faith is validated that day on the mountain; God speaks, claiming Jesus as God’s Son, the Beloved. This is precisely what they’ve been believing and now want everyone to see. Perhaps if they can set up camp there, others can witness Jesus’ glory.
But that is not what Jesus has in mind, for that is not what Christ has come for: Jesus has a purpose, and to fulfill that purpose he will surrender himself into the hands of the world. He like Elijah, John the Baptist, will suffer at the hand of humankind.
And this, mind you, is quite the opposite of what the disciples want to see. They want to see him glorified. They want to see him lifted up. They want others to see and believe that Jesus is the anointed one, the Beloved sent by God.
But Jesus will have none of it. The worst that they fear will come true. The restlessness in Jerusalem will boil over. Jesus will be handed over to the authorities. Jesus will be killed. And to them, I imagine it must have seemed so unnecessary.
If others could only see what they see, they would believe, right?
Well Jesus knew our hearts better. And Christ still knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves. In order to see, we must first believe. We cannot see that which we do not have eyes to see. It is the believing that opens us to truth – and not the other way around. How many of us have been educated around the facts of an issue, but still are not convinced? It is not in fact the facts that change minds and hearts. No. We must start with the heart and move to the head.
And that is how Christ lived. Before healing, Christ would ask if the individual wanted to be made well. As crazy as it sounds, many of us actually do not. Change feels scary. Transformation is difficult.
But Christ started with the human heart. Christ loved. Christ ate with folks unworthy. Christ forgave. Christ restored. …and Christ died.
Christ lived love.
Christ demonstrated love.
Christ didn’t just preach, as his cousin did in the desert. He didn’t just make his home in the temple, sharing wisdom and guidance. No, he lived his love – in healing the sick, in compassion for the lost, in justice for the outcast, in feeding the hungry, in forgiving sins, and in welcoming the repentant heart back home.
And when we spend time in Christ’s presence,…
When we take refuge under God’s wings of protection,…
When we meet with God in prayer that opens us up to God,…
We too shine.
We reflect the glory of the Lord.
We reflect the beauty and righteousness of God.
We shine, bringing evil to light and making wrong things right.
Just like Christ, we are called to live love.
We are called to shine in the darkness.
We are called to DO justice.
We are called to heal the brokenhearted ones,
To set the prisoners free,
To declare the year of God’s favor.
What a tremendous and beautiful calling!
What grace, that in Christ’s light, we too are made light.