Preparing for Worship

by | Feb 9, 2024 | Preparing For Worship

By R.G. Huff. 

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. It’s the last Sunday before Ariel, our new minister of music, starts. Timothy is back from preaching at St. Bart’s Cathedral in New York, and it’s Transfiguration Sunday in the lectionary. I have to admit: I understand the first three better than I understand the last one.

There is much discussion among theologians about the significance of the transfiguration event: What happened exactly? Why did it happen? What are we supposed to learn from it? Why did Jesus only share the event with three of the twelve? Were Moses and Elijah there because they represented the Law and the Prophets, or because neither of them experienced a common death but were ushered into heaven by God personally? Jesus wasn’t changed by this event, was he?

We have a lot to think about as we encounter this New Testament lesson today. I’m counting on Timothy answering all these questions and then some! Not really, of course.

The transfiguration has been the subject of paintings for centuries. Almost all of the “greats” have taken on these few verses covered in all three Synoptic Gospels. One of the earliest was a mandorla (almond-shaped framing) at Egypt’s St. Catherine’s Monastery in the sixth century, and Raphael’s 1520 “Transfiguration,” now in the Vatican Museums, was his final piece and was considered the greatest painting of all time until the end of the nineteenth century.

Take a look at the more modern interpretation by Kelly Latimore on the cover of today’s worship folder. Peter, James and John are recoiled in fear; one covers his eyes, one covers his mouth and the other one plugs an ear as the radiant Christ is lifted above the earth with Elijah and Moses directing their attention toward the One to whom their lives and prophecies had pointed.

Whatever the true significance of this pre-Lenten event when the inner glory of Christ was revealed, the people whose lives had opportunity for change were Peter, James and John. Today as we worship and encounter again the glorified Christ, we have the opportunity to be changed by the experience. We can up-and-get-us-gone from this place different than when we came in. The inner Christ who dwells in us richly might be revealed more readily to our closest friends.

May we not cover our eyes and miss seeing the glory of Christ … or plug our ears and miss what God may have to say … or obstruct our mouths from praising the One who is lifted up before us. Let’s open our mouths and sing with all our might, listen intently and turn our eyes upon Jesus and find ourselves if not transfigured, at least transformed.