The Feast of the Transfiguration

The Feast of the Transfiguration, observed on August 6. “While he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white . . . [and the disciples] saw his glory.” –Luke 9:28, 32

As Episcopalians, we emphasize the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, that is, that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. Throughout the Synoptic Gospels especially, we see Jesus’s human nature: his need for food and water, his grief over losing his friend Lazarus, and even his fear in the Garden of Gethsemane as he anticipates dying on the cross. But there are also glimpses of Jesus’s divine nature—the nature he shares with God, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The Transfiguration is one of the main stories in the Synoptic Gospels that clearly point to Jesus’s divine nature, as Jesus appeared, along with Moses and Elijah, “in glory.”

Sometimes I wonder what glory is. Near the beginning of our liturgy, we say or sing the “Glory to God in the highest.” During the Great Thanksgiving, we join our voices “with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven . . . to proclaim the glory of [God’s] Name,” and we “await [Jesus’s] coming in glory.” In each of these instances, glory seems to point to something beyond our wildest imagination. Early church theologians compared glory to light that is brighter than the sun.

Glory seems to be an attribute of divinity, something almost beyond our grasp—but not quite. I suspect we, too, can radiate something that approaches glory: Our faces reflect God’s light when we spend time with God. The Psalmist writes, “Look to the Lord and be radiant” (Psalm 34). And after Moses spends time with God on Mt. Sinai, he returns with a face so glistening that he has to wear a veil because others cannot look directly at him (Exodus 34:29–35). When we spend time with God, we, too, can radiate God’s glory.

As we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, I encourage you to seek out that which makes you radiate God’s love. In doing so, I believe, you will reflect the glory of God.

–The Reverend Deacon Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector