Transfiguration is the change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state. There are many different children’s stories that feature the transfiguration of a Character. One example is the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. In the Disney version, the story start by telling the story of a selfish and unkind prince who was cursed and turned into a beast because his actions had been beastly. The curse which was on him and all who lived in the castle would be lifted if he could learn to love and earn the love of that person in return before the last petal dropped from the enchanted rose. Belle, who originally was taken captive in the Beast’s castle, does grow to love the him and he also opens his heart to her and loves her. At the end of the movie he is transfigured in bursts of light back into a man. The beauty, Belle, and the Beast live happily ever after.
In the Gospel reading of Jesus’ transfiguration we hear that Jesus’ “face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white”. We are also told a “bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!””
It would be a great place to end the story and say they all lived happily ever after. The season of Epiphany, the season of light and revelation has just climaxed with this shining figure again being identified as the Messiah with these words from God. Words that are an echo of the words that we heard at Jesus’ baptism “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” But this is not the end of the story. The transfiguration of Jesus is the bridge between Epiphany and Lent.
Lent is the 40 day period leading to Easter. Lent begins in the wilderness. The Spirit guides Jesus into the wilderness where he comes face to face with temptation and struggle. The journey continues through Holy Week and the Passion of Christ. It is a journey through pain and suffering. It is a journey we would rather avoid but in Jesus we see God revealed as one who is willing to journey through pain and suffering. We see the God of love who longs for reconciliation and renewal of the whole earth. We see the God who takes the long, hard and humble path rather than be tempted by power and glory. And even though on Good Friday it seems darkness will have the final victory, that too is not the end of the story. For God raises Jesus in love and gives us hope and the faith to say “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” (St Julian of Norwich).
Rev Tammy Hollands