Blog >
Transfiguration in Daily Life
March 3, 2019, 12:00 AM

Transfiguration in Daily Life

Welcome to Transfiguration Sunday. Today we read about Jesus being up on the mountain and it says his appearance changed and his clothes became dazzling white. Interesting that they chose dazzling white since white is the color of purity and innocence for much of the world. To me, it is almost as if there was something so glorious they were looking at, they couldn't quite describe it in the words they had, so they picked out the best option they could. Think about it. Take the most beautiful flower you have every seen and try to describe it. For me at least, yes I can give you a description, but no matter how I try, it still lacks something and comes out sounding flat in comparison to the reality that I am attempting to describe. And isn't that true about much of what we know of God. God is larger than, more impressive than, and more, well just more than we are able to describe using the words that we have. So, this morning we read the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, the story of how his very human appearance transformed into something so much more. Evidence is from the story that this comes from touching or being in the presence of God.

Our Old Testament lesson talked about when Moses came down from the mountain and how he “glowed”. Now we joke about people who have come in contact with nuclear radiation glowing but they did not have Nuclear power plants in Moses day, so I will have to take the story at face value. We read that as Moses came down the mountain, he was not aware of it, but everyone around him saw the glow. The glow from being in the presence of God was so strong that he veiled his face most of the time. He only uncovered himself to go into the presence of God, leaving himself unveiled when he returned to the people to bring the word of God to them. After speaking God's word for the people, he veiled his face again, because they could not bear to look upon him like that all the time. So, God's presence transfigured Moses or transformed the way he look to the people.

I think, one of the closest and most common places we describe the same, is in the description of the pregnant woman. I have heard all my life that pregnant women “glow” or they have an aura about them. As I was thinking about this I think it has to do with their contact with the creator at that time. They are participating in the generative work of a creating God. God created the heavens and the earth and the people there in. God left us to care for and tend to creation and gave us the spark that lets us in some ways participate in that creative work and one of the ways we participate in that creative work is by bearing children. And so that is, I think, the healthy glow you see on people who are pregnant. It comes from their participation in the work of, entering into the presence of and being in close contact with the creator. These bearers of, creators of, participants in, the generative work are therefore transfigured in their appearance by their contact with God.

Not all of us are going to go up on a mountain to have a cloud descend upon us so that we might sit in the presence of God and get that glow that Moses and Jesus did. Not all of us are going to carry a child and touch God in that manner. For many of us, who love children and participated in the generative work of creating and/or bearing children into this world, the days of a healthy glow from being pregnancy are over. We will not be bringing more children into this world. I love being a parent and raising my children. Christa has found great fulfillment and joy, I believe, in bearing and helping to raise children. Christa and I, will not have anymore children and the truth is that every year the hours spent in active parenting are reduced and the children, thankfully, as we have raised them to do, they have become largely independent. Yes, there are days when we still parent, but few when we spend much of the day parenting. Most days the majority of our time is spent on other activities. And lets face it, parenting a teenager, even a good one with lots of love, is more likely to produce a transformation based in anxiety and frustration than in having touched or knowing you sat in the presence of God.

So, what now. Are we done. Is there no way that I can be that fully in the presence of God. I will be 48 this week. Based on my dad's health and the age of my grandparents when they died, I will probably live to be over 90, assuming I take even reasonably good care of myself. So what, I will spend the next half of my life never fully participating in the work of God. The best I can expect is that, should one of my children choose to bear children, I will get to see the echo's of this work in my grandchildren. That would be wonderful but not quite the same as participating directly in and fully reflecting the image of God in something I can call fully my own. What about all of my friends who have chosen not to have children for a variety of reasons, or those who are not able to have children for a variety of reasons, are they to never participate in and fully reflect the image of the God. I can not believe that is true. I think there has to be more.

I think there has to be more and I have met people along the way who in fact have a glow about them. You know that they are about the work of God, they evidence it in some unexplainable way. There is a transformation or transfiguration in much the same way you find with pregnancy. I think we don't tell the story as often, because the stories are less universal. And yet in the US, 15% of women 40-44 do not have children and thus likely won't. The number of people choosing not to have children is growing and 2017 represented an all time low in number of births per 1000 women according to the NY Times. Given that almost half the population in the US is male, in the US, 70% of the population at best participates with a partner or family member who is pregnant. And for many who are parents, over half our lives will be spent on other endeavors and yet we were made in the image of a creator. So, in my mind, there has to be more.

Consider this, God made not just the people but the animals, the sun, the moon and the stars, dry land and oceans, and God made daytime and night time and the light. God created not just human beings but so much more. We reflect God and God is a creator and human beings are creative beings as well. So, maybe procreation is only one of the ways to participate in creating as those who reflect the image of God.

In Seminary, I was encouraged by one of my professors, when writing my thesis on marriage, and considering childless couples to think of God as generative. Out of God was generated the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Procreation is one generative work, it generates something new, it adds to creation. So, maybe the question is how do we participate as generative beings reflecting our creator.

Thus an architect helps to generate buildings and hopefully adds to the beauty of the earth. Those who build water systems for poor communities help to share the love of God and help to generate things that will help to sustain the creation and thus reflect the creator. Those who help to heal the wounds of the mind, or help indigenous communities to sell their crops or to see the nutritional value of their crops are helping to generate a better world and thus participating in the creative work of God and reflect their creator in doing so. I look around this congregation and I see people who on the whole make the world a better place, they reflect a loving God in their work and they generate things, attitudes and environments that improve, tend and help to sustain God's good creation.

Think for a minute about the quilting and prayer shawl ministries around the world. People sew, knit, crochet or weave blankets. Many times they do it in community and you hear them chat away happily as they work and pray over their blankets. Or maybe you see the pride in the person when they finish the quilt. Are those not reflections of the tranformative power of being in the presence of God. Consider the recipient and the smile that comes to their face knowing someone cared enough to make this item, does that not help them to be in the presence of God and is their smile not at least in some way a reflection of the transfiguration. I have to believe that these ministries are part of the generative work of a loving creator. These and so much more that we do are part of our reflecting God the creator.

So, look around you each day and I think you will see the transfiguration of people as they enter into the presence of God, through their work and volunteer activities. Consider your own life and what are the things that make you glow from the inside out, what are the things that transfigure you, those are places that you have touched on or drawn most closely from the power of God in your life. Does your work, paid or volunteer, help you to generate good and love and beauty in the world and do you recognize what you are doing because I think if you do you to will find yourself transfigured or transformed if you prefer. Consider what is the pregnancy glow and then think about all the other places you have seen it. Consider the indescribable, dazzling white of Jesus and then ask where else have I see that or been that for another. Transfiguration is all around you, I hope you get to see it in yourself or others everyday. AMEN.