My daughter Jillian and I had a moment at the MoMA this week. The Modern Art Museum in New York City features a world-renowned collection of masterpieces in the modern style of painting and sculpture. We were standing in front of Paul Cezanne’s Boy in the Red Vest. It was one of four portraits the artist painted of this Italian young man, each in a different pose.
Jillian wondered with me about what we should take from it. We looked at it more closely, asking questions about color, setting, costume and mood. We knew it wasn’t possible to determine the artist’s intent, so we asked ourselves what it made us think about and how it made us feel. We imagined ourselves as that boy, considered whether the red vest was a uniform or choice flung against his blue-toned melancholy. All in all, we came away changed by it. Better for it. Determined to face whatever our lot in life with courage and style.
Worship is a mystery that invites us to do more than just be there. We enter into it, whether a song or text or a prayer. We involve ourselves in the story or the experience. We decide to be different, better, more determined for having entered into the encounter with God as a participant, not a spectator.
The disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration were privileged to see Jesus shine in the presence of Moses and Elijah. They didn’t know what to make of it all at first, but Jesus was there to guide them, as he still is with and for us. He wants us to shine too. He wants us to know the blessing of God, to sense the encouragement of the saints, and to accept the mission to serve the world.
It might not mean the same for all of us, but it will mean something for each of us if we join in and let God transfigure us afresh.