Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Comedian Ellen DeGeneres says: "In the beginning there was nothing. God said, 'Let there be light!' And there was light. There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better."
In the Church year, this coming Sunday is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, the season of light. Lent, the season of darkness, is quickly approaching. Lent is a journey, and the journey begins next Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. At Westminster, our Ash Wednesday service will begin at 1:15pm with a brief Taize service and the imposition of the ashes.
The ashes remind us that we are taking this Lenten journey with Jesus, a journey that ultimately leads to death--a painful, grotesque death on the cross for Jesus; our ultimate death will hopefully be somewhat less traumatic. Yet it will be distasteful, I'm sure, all the same. This is our fate--Jesus and us.
The last Sunday of Epiphany, just before Ash Wednesday, is Transfiguration Sunday, where we hear this odd story of Jesus, clothed in the brightness of his glory, conversing with Elijah and Moses, while Peter James and John look on in fear and trembling.
Lance Stone, in his article "Christ's Transfiguration, Our Transfiguration" suggests that maybe this story, set in middle of the story of Jesus' life and just before our Lenten journey begins, serves as a reminder that death is not the end of the story. It provides us with a preview of what is to come after this long journey that seems to end so poorly. Perhaps it is a preview to the resurrection. A risen Christ is to be glimpsed here. Perhaps we can catch a glimpse of our own resurrection too.