The desire to make permanent what can only, ever, by its very nature, be transitory, is a true bane of human personality. At any 12-step meeting you can hear addicts tell of the futile, but irresistible desire to chase their first high. Those who divorce within the treacherous 5-7 year window often blame the feeling of having lost the passionate love they formerly felt, as if such an emotion were sustainable over the long term. A mountaintop is a great place to visit, to misquote an old joke, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Except we do! Over and over and over again we strive to hold on to experiences, states of being, ecstasies that are perforce temporary, and thereby make ourselves either miserable or ridiculous.
In 2010, Michael L. Beck invited readers of Homily Service to reflect upon the transitory nature of the mountaintop experience of the Transfiguration, and to consider the necessity of leaving the mountain for home.
They want to preserve the moment, hold on to it… But we all know it is impossible to stay in those ecstatic moments. We have to live in the real world.So too for these three men: their idea of three memorials, three dwellings cannot be a reality (only recently have the three chapels appeared in the church on the summit of Mount Tabor) they have to go back and live in the power of what they have witnessed.The same is true for us. There will be times, perhaps very few, when we will glimpse something of the glory of God. It could well be in church, it might as easily be elsewhere. We may wish to hold on to that moment, but God calls us into the real world of great darkness in financial crises, lost jobs, lost homes, sick people, suffering children. There, the light, the shekinah of God’s presence, needs to be seen as much as, if not more than, in those glimpses we may be given. It is in sharing that light, that understanding, that we fulfill the command of the voice to “listen to him” and make God’s love real.
The Transfiguration is a strange little episode in the life of Jesus. Here’s my real question. What on earth do you do for a children’s sermon this Sunday?
Michael L. Beck. "Transfiguration Day", Homily Service 42:1, 165-166.
Michael L. Beck is is an Anglican parish priest in the Durham Diocese of the United Kingdom.