Brilliant Light, Gathering Darkness

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Matthew 17:1-2, NRSV

The season of Epiphany ends here on this mountaintop. The disciples see Jesus shining like the sun, and they are nearly blinded by the light. But this isn’t a story about Jesus having a supernatural transformation: he didn’t change on that mountain, the disciples did. Their blindness fell away and they saw Jesus as he always was: divine and human.

This is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament. It says something about who Jesus is (God’s son, real person), and something about who I am – capable of seeing the glory of God in this life and equally capable of closing my eyes to it in willful blindness. Even when I see the glory of God, I am as likely to misunderstand its meaning in my life as Peter did just a few short verses later. The glory of God is more than a brilliant light burning on a mountaintop. This light is the living, breathing, love of God who will leave the heights to bring light and hope to the darkest of places.

The shadows are darkening, and the road to Jerusalem beckons. The brilliance of this mountaintop transfiguration will shine into resurrection. But the days in between are dark, and I am afraid. I would not dare to walk this road alone. But I walk with all the faithful who have ever lived. Like Saint Patrick did when in danger, I will arise to walk the road, and I will bind unto myself the strength of God. I will dare to follow Jesus on this Lenten road…

[Note: A different part of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate will be the focus for each week of Lent. To read the full prayer, click Lent 2016:Saint Patrick’s Breastplate at the top of the page. Background information on the prayer and resources for further study can be found by clicking About Saint Patrick’s Breastplate.]

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

4 thoughts on “Brilliant Light, Gathering Darkness”

  1. Thanks Johnna I am one who often quails at the word change, but I know it is necessary for growth and I am not alone on the journey, I have Jesus right there to guide me along.

    1. I think the journey is difficult, but blessed. I wouldn’t dare the road alone, but in company of Jesus and the saints, it is a holy path. Peace, Johnna

  2. I guess all such awakenings, whether on the road to Damascus, at Aldersgate or on Mt. Tabor are really about just that–awakening, seeing what was there all the time, finally. I can almost here God say “Welcome, Bill, you woke up.”

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