Re the Daily Office Readings August 6 Anno Domini 2020: The Feast of the Transfiguration

Photo by Ivana Cajina

The [Morning] Readings: Exodus 24:12-18; 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

From Michael Ramsey’s Be Still and Know (reprinted in Celebrating the Seasons):

In Saint Luke’s account of the transfiguration of our Lord, we see his characteristic relating of a scene to prayer and to the mission of Jesus as he moves toward death and glory. Jesus is praying, and the light shines on his face. We do not know that it is a prayer of agony and conflict like the prayer in Gethsemane, but we know that it is a prayer near to the radiance of God and the prayer of one who has chosen the way of death. Luke tells us that the two witnesses, Moses and Elijah, were conversing about the exodus which Jesus would accomplish in Jerusalem: not death alone, but the passing through death to glory, the whole going forth of Jesus as well as the leading forth of the new people of God in the freedom of the new covenant. Luke tells us that after the resurrection Jesus spoke of the witness of Moses and of all the prophets to his suffering and glory.

It was not a glory which the disciples at the time could fathom. No doubt they would have welcomed a glory on the mountain far away from the conflicts which had happened and the conflicts which were going to happen as Jesus sets his face toward Jerusalem. Yet when Jesus went up the mountain to be transfigured he did not leave these conflicts behind, but rather carried them up the mountain so that they were transfigured with him. It was the transfiguration of the whole Christ, from his first obedience in childhood right through to the final obedience of Gethsemane and Calvary

The disciples could not grasp this at the time, but the writings of the apostolic age were to show that the link between the suffering and the glory came to be understood as belonging to the heart of the Christian message. Glory belongs to the plain as well as to the mountain. The scene on the mount speaks to us today, but we are not allowed to linger there. We are bidden to journey on to Calvary and there learn of the darkness and the desolation which are the cost of the glory. But from Calvary and Easter there comes a Christian hope of immense range: the hope of the transformation not only of mankind but of the cosmos too.

In Eastern Christianity especially there has been the continuing belief that Easter is the beginning of a transformed cosmos. There is a glimpse of this hope in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, a hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” The bringing of mankind to glory will be the prelude to the bringing of all creation. Is this hope mere fantasy? At its root there is the belief in the divine sovereignty of sacrificial love, a sovereignty made credible only by transfigured lives.

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