We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Voices of the Transfiguration

1.  Transfiguration is transformation. No one and no situation is "untransfigurable" – Dawn Hutchings

In his book, God Has A Dream: A Vision of Home for Our Time, Desmond Tutu tells about a transfiguration experience that he will never forget. It occurred when apartheid was still in full swing. Tutu and other church leaders were preparing for a meeting with the prime minister of South Africa to discuss the troubles that were destroying their nation. They met at a theological college that had closed down because of the white government’s racist policies. During a break from the proceedings, Tutu walked into the college’s garden for some quiet time. In the midst of the garden was a huge wooden cross. As Tutu looked at the barren cross, he realized that it was winter, a time when the grass was pale and dry, a time when almost no one could imagine that in a few short weeks it would be lush, green, and beautiful again. In a few short weeks, the grass and all the surrounding world would be transfigured.  

As the archbishop sat there and pondered that, he obtained a new insight into the power of transfiguration, of God’s ability to transform our world. Tutu concluded that transfiguration means that no one and no situation is “untransfigurable.” The time will eventually come when the whole world will be released from its current bondage and brought to share in the glorious liberty that God intends.

2.  Transfiguration emphasizes the mission of Jesus -that the way of Jesus is the way of the cross

A. Travis Meir

"Jesus’ ministry continues with the trip back down the mountain. He will not take Peter’s advice and stay on the mountaintop. The mountaintop was a vision of the glory of God, but it is not to be confused with the way of the cross, the true ministry of Jesus. Jesus is to be found where the people are, leaning into their needs, and giving life back to those on the margins.  

The disciples do not understand this, and will not understand it until they here the message from the young man at the tomb, delivered by the women. “He has been raised…Go back to Galilee..he is going ahead of you to Galilee (16:6-7).” That is where the ministry of the kingdom of God continues to unfold" 

B. Lawrence  "Disclosing New Worlds"

 The shadow of the cross hangs over the narrative. And it is the cross, not the resurrection, which is emphasised here on the mountain… the Transfiguration is different from what most of us have been brought up to believe since we coloured in our first picture of the event in Sunday School. This is not a moment of glory, or of hope. It is confirmation of the second great cycle in Mark’s narrative: the Way of the Cross. The Way of the Cross is about engagement with the powers of the day. It will bring about suffering and death. It is the only way – both for Jesus and for would-be followers. The Transfiguration confirms the call to suffering discipleship issued in 8:34f. The divine voice underscores it: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to what he tells you!”  

.. At the end of Epiphany, we stand on the threshold of Lent and have to be prepared to hear the call to the Way of the Cross as shocking, new, uncomfortable, divisive and repellent. We need to commit ourselves to dealing with our blindness and our deafness. In Mark’s narrative, the blind and the deaf symbolise the disciples’ condition and response to Jesus. But it’s a narrative of hope, because the deaf hear and the blind see – and the disciples on the mountain do deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Jesus! That, too, needs to be our story.

3  Transfiguration without a plan – David Lose  "In the Meantime"

We desperately want an encounter with God – some sense that we are not alone, that there is something More than what we can see and touch – and yet in those very moments that God draws near we find ourselves afraid, unsure, and feeling suddenly very out of control and so we try to domesticate our experience of the Holy by fitting it into a plan.

Why? I suspect that as much as we want an encounter with God, we simultaneously fear the presence of God because we fear being changed, being transformed. What we have, who we are, may not be everything we want, but at least we know it, are used to it, have built a relatively orderly life around it. And so when God comes – perhaps not in a transfiguration as dramatic as Mark describes but in the ordinary hopes, encounters, and tragedies of our everyday life – when God comes and unsettles the orderly lives we’ve constructed we try to put those disruptive experiences back into line by cramming them into a plan.

But maybe, just maybe, there is no plan. Maybe there’s only love. And perhaps our job as preachers and leaders isn’t to fit our experience – let alone everyone else’s – into some kind of “divine plan,” but rather to create space for people to experience the wonder and mystery of God. Not a “safe space” necessarily – how could any experience with the God of the Bible be considered entirely “safe”? – but a space into which we will accompany them, neither building booths to make it neat and tidy nor abandoning them, but standing together in the mystery of God and God’s love

4. Transfiguration – an anchor to Jesus Identity  – Paul S. Berge

In the midst of Jesus’ threefold teaching on his forthcoming death and resurrection and words on discipleship (Mark 8:31-9:1; 9:30-34; 10:32-45), the transfiguration story anchors our lives once again in the one whose identity is spoken to us by the Father: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him” (Mark 9:7). This word of identity reassures us for our journey, even to our death. In this journey we are instructed by the Father to “listen to him.” Jesus’ journey to the cross during the season of Lent will also be our journey. But just as  death awaits us, as it did Jesus, so too do we walk in the hope of his resurrection. Jesus’ death and resurrection are paradigmatic of our death and resurrection; this is our identity as people of faith

5. The Transfiguration – see the Kingdom of God coming in power.    -Brian Stoffregen

One purpose is that it may be the event referred to in 9:1: "And he said to them, "Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power." These three disciples have seen the kingdom of God in all its power with the transfiguration of Jesus. 

Jesus is connected to the law and prophets and then Jesus who the prophets aniticipate. Jesus is at the climax of history, a picture of hope.

6. With the transfiguration, the realm of the kingdom of God — the heavenly sphere — is finally breaking into the earthly realm. — Summerlee Staten. Summerlee Staten is the Executive Director for Faith Formation and Education at Trinity Church Wall Stree

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them… And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. Mark 9:2–9

This is no ordinary mountaintop experience.

The disciples have been following Jesus, a wandering Jewish teacher, for months, and they have seen some amazing things. A paralyzed man has been healed, four thousand people have been fed from a tiny portion of fish and bread, and even Peter (one of Jesus’s closest followers) has seen his own bedridden mother-in-law cured of illness. But nothing could prepare them for what they saw when Jesus asked them to join him on a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee.

With the sparkling water far beneath them, they witness Jesus utterly transformed. His clothes shine with an incandescent glow, a thick cloud hovers ominously over the mountain, and a voice thunders above — the very voice of God. To make matters stranger, Moses and Elijah, long-dead prophets, suddenly appear by Jesus’s side.

The disciples are rightly terrified. They have never seen anything like this. Pious Jews familiar with the Hebrew scriptures (what Christians call the Old Testament), they are astounded to see these heroes of old, whose stories they heard as children, standing beside Jesus. For them, steeped in a community waiting anxiously for a long-prophesied Messiah, the sudden appearance of these dead prophets could only mean one thing: Jesus is the one they have been waiting for.

The realm of the kingdom of God — the heavenly sphere — is finally breaking into the earthly realm. God is on the move in Jesus.

Coming down the mountain, the disciples are transformed. Their lives have been forever changed by a supernatural reality they had previously only read about. Their knowledge moves from their heads to their hearts. This is how mountaintop experiences — epiphanies and revelations that open our minds to new realities — change us. We come to understand the mystery of God in a new way, and by comparison the miracles we experienced before seem ordinary.

Jesus has to come down from the mountaintop. He and his disciples continue their work — feeding the poor, healing the sick, and spreading the good news of God’s love in the world.

We must do the same. Like Jesus’s disciples, we must bring the mountaintop with us into the world below.