February 07, 2018
By Larissa Forsythe.
Scripture: Mark 9:2-9 (NRSV)
Six days later, 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 his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
He did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, "This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!"
Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only 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.
When I was a very little girl, my maternal grandparents had a little house in Fort Myers, Florida, right on the water. I remember few details about that house except for the lanai, a screened-in room at the back of the house, that included a swimming pool, furniture for lounging, and a pass-through window from the kitchen that served as an ideal place for my grandmother to cool the pies she was continuously baking.
I remember the lanai so clearly because it was there that one of the most vivid memories of my childhood occurred. It was late morning and my mother, grandmother, and I were spending time relaxing on the lanai. I had the idea that it would be great fun to walk around the very edge of the pool, round and round its perimeter.
My mother warned, “You’re going to fall in.”
I responded with what would become my mantra as a young and reckless child, “No I’m not.”
And, immediately, I fell in.
My memory of the next few moments is bathed in wonder. I remember feeling no sense of fear. I was simply amazed by this other world beneath the water; sparkling aqua and golden sunlight, everything moving in slow motion, bubbles rising upward toward the swirling surface.
Almost instantaneously, my grandmother, like a bolt of lightning piercing the sky, came bursting through the surface of the water. She came to a floating stop right in front of me and she was - there's no other word for it - transfigured. Her normally carefully coiffed hair swirled around her face, lit by the sun like a halo. Her fabulous 1970s lounge dress billowed about her legs and bubbles created by her wake sparkled all around her. She was suddenly not just my doting grandmother who made the best pies and always had pinwheels and grape soda to snack on. She was not just the nice lady who read me stories and tucked me in when I came to visit her. Here, before me, bathed in light, was a woman who, without hesitation, would leap into danger to rescue me - even when I didn't know I needed rescuing.
I wonder if Peter felt like this, seeing Jesus bathed in light - transfigured - at the top of the mountain. Of course, he’d already confessed that Jesus was the Messiah - and then immediately went on to prove that he had no idea what that might mean. Maybe, for Peter, up to this moment, Jesus was an amazing teacher, healer, even miracle worker. Maybe, up to this moment, Peter hadn’t yet seen him for who he truly was: Love Incarnate willing to do anything to rescue us, even when we didn’t know we needed rescuing.
And I wonder, how many times, in how many people, do we meet Jesus again? How many times have people been transfigured before us in ways we haven’t recognized? How might we be rescued if we were open to notice those transfigurations, happening right before our eyes?
Holy One, open our eyes to see you in our neighbor, in ourselves, and in the Word, as you are: Love Incarnate working tirelessly to rescue us. May the truth of who you are transfigure us to be a healing force in this world. Amen.
Rev. Larissa Forsythe is Associate Minister at Congregational Church in South Glastonbury.
February 07, 2018