This is the final Sunday of the Epiphany Season, a turning in the church year.
On Wednesday we enter a new season: Lent. The “spring” of the church
begins, ironically, in the cold darkness of winter and culminates in Good
Friday in mid-April, a time of increasing light and warmth. Easter season
will then reach its penultimate expression in Pentecost and the work of the
Holy Spirit in God’s church.
For many people, the church seasons are either an unwelcome distraction or ignored altogether. We prefer to be guided by our own lights, perhaps invoking the 'freedom in Christ' and 'freedom from Law and the expectations of others.' We have our own hearts to guide us and liturgical seasons can be a nuisance and out of step with our own life cycles.
However, there may be another angle from which to view the purple, green and white of our communal worship relationship to God. Perhaps, our connectedness with God is far richer than we can imagine. Perhaps, we do well to listen to the wisdom of the church which provides us with seasons. Perhaps seasons really exist for our own benefit. A time for manifestation, a time for penance, a time for resurrection, a time for the Spirit. What if the church seasons are not limiting us, but deepening us? What if we need to go deeper to grow into Jesus?
One insight of psychology is that it takes about six weeks to transition. I think this is why the liturgical seasons usually last about 40 days or so. It gives us sufficient time to delve into the heart of the realities of our faith. Rome was not built in a day and neither is a spiritual life.
Epiphany season reflects on the manifestation of Messiah, who was born on Christmas. Throughout the past two months we have read about this unveiling in various Gospels passages: Jesus’ baptism, John the Baptist declaring Jesus is The Lamb of God, Jesus presented at the Temple and declared to be the promised one, Jesus calling His disciples and Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount. Each time we are called to encounter JESUS, the human face of God. Jesus is the Light of God shining in a dark world, the Light of God shining as teacher and friend.The grand finale of that Epiphany is today. Transfiguration Sunday always is the last Sunday of the season. It marks the end and the beginning. We see the Light manifest in Jesus which leaves no doubt who this is; now we turn with Him to His destiny. When next we meet on Ash Wednesday, Jesus will call us to repent. We will gather up our courage for the long trek with Jesus to His destiny in Jerusalem.
What then shall we do?
Shall we follow Peter’s advice and remain high on the mountain, avoiding life’s troubles dwelling in the mystical sweetness?
Will we obey God who said Jesus is the Beloved Son and listen to Him?
If we obey God and listen to Jesus, then His first commandment is to not be afraid! [such an exhortation seems to imply scarey days ahead!] Will we be brave and trust the Lord, trudging down the mountain to the hostile world below? Will we stay with Him to the bitter end, including garden and cross? Will we be among the handful at the foot of the cross and before the empty tomb?
The last two months Jesus has been manifest to us. It began with the Baptism and now ends with Transfiguration. Both times a voice from heaven declares: This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased!This Lent let us resolve to Seek Jesus; to spend ourselves knowing Him, loving Him, seeking Him: Jesus, the Beloved Son who pleases God. Let us pray to that goal and study to that goal. Let us love and serve others to seek His face. Jesus reveals Himself to those who sincerely desire to love, follow and obey Him. Will you be such a one? Will you spend forty days saying, "Lord Jesus I seek your face, reveal yourself to me!"