One of my favorite events each year is the annual tour given to the kindergarten and first grade Godly Play class. There, I get to nerd out on stuff that they’ve been learning, but that most people don’t give a second thought to. We talked about the word nave, and how it is built to look like the hull of a ship. We got to touch the 1905 paten and chalice given in honor of Frederick and Sadie Price before the second Christ Church in Bowling Green was destroyed by fire. They had the chance to see what the church looks like from the pulpit, lectern, and behind the altar. Standing there, I asked the group why they thought we had candles in churches. One, very practical child, guessed that it was so we could see better, which was, of course, true. We went on to talk about how the candles in the church remind us of the light of Jesus, and how when we come to worship, that light comes alive in us, and we get to carry it out into the world.
What I didn’t think to tell them was that this Sunday’s Gospel lesson is all about the light of Christ. The image above is from a painting of the Transfiguration by Carl Bloch (c. 1865), and I think it captures visually what the English translations of Mark’s account fall short on. That is, Bloch’s painting shows us what Mark means when he says that Jesus’ clothes became “dazzling white.” The Greek word is something akin to glistening, sparkling, or shining. It isn’t that Jesus’ once dusty tunic became Clorox white, but rather, it light up like the noonday sun. There, atop that mountain, Peter, James, and John became privy to the fullness of the light of Christ.
As they made their way back down to meet the waiting crowd, Jesus commanded his disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen until after his resurrection. Stories about the light of Christ aren’t necessary when the light is standing right in front of you. As time has passed, however, the need to tell the story and to share the light has grown. As 21st century followers of Jesus, we are called to let the light of Christ shine through our lives, and the best way to keep that light shining brightly is by regularly returning to the source. You could travel to the Mount of the Transfiguration, or, more practically, you can attend worship, commit to regularly praying and reading the Bible, and sharing the love of God with those inside your sphere of influence.
In the transfiguration, the fullness of the divinity of Jesus was made manifest by way of a voice from heaven, two prophetic witnesses, and the shining of a bright light. Only one of those is available to us on an ongoing basis. As I often say during the Offertory Sentences this time of, “let your light so shine before others that they may see your Good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”