I know: not a big day on the calendar. The mail still was delivered, the banks were open, and no stores were running any sales (although this would be a great day for a laundromat to proclaim that they can get your whites radiantly clean!)
Even for the church, this isn't a day special enough to transfer its celebration to the nearest Sunday. But this is a really big day, even if its not tied to a special season or grand occasion. Because what sets this day apart, amidst our "ordinary" time, is the pulling back, momentarily, of the veil to show Jesus standing between the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah), his clothes a dazzingly white, and the cloud comes down on the mountain and announces to Peter, John and James: "This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him!" Jesus himself, the man, has not changed in his outward appearance. But Jesus, as well as his friends who witnessed this incredible event, have been transfigured by what's happened. Or more plainly stated, they've been transformed and changed. The disciples have seen that Jesus is completely at One with God. Jesus, from here on out in the Gospels, understands that he must go to Jerusalem to complete the work that he's been given to do.
The longer I keep on this journey, the more I realize that the transforming nature of contact with the Holy is not just a one-off; each moment, each encounter, each experience of the Presence of that power shapes and changes us. We don't come in contact with the Holy and stay the same.
I think back on Holy Week 2013 in which I had two very profound moments in which I engaged in actively ministering to another. There was the woman who was anguished because she said her husband was in a county jail and accused of a crime he didn't commit. She was with a few others protesting for his release in front of the state Capitol building where our PFLAG group was about to have a rally. I wanted her to know that she was welcome to stay there, but we had booked the space and would be occupying the area by the steps. This woman opened up to me, tears in her eyes, as she poured out her story. In the back of my mind, I knew I needed to keep working on getting things set up for our rally. But in front of me was a woman who was hurting and burdenened. I listened patiently and, for this moment, went into that pain with her, acknowledging her hurt and frustration at the system. She brought up God, and I assured her that God had not forgotten her or her husband. We hugged and she and her friends moved on. That same week, I intervened to stop a sheriff's deputy from arresting a tall African-American man named Moses for the crime of praying in Carter Chapel at St. John's during the Maundy Thursday vigil. A part of me had wanted to move on and not get involved in this. But the better part of me forced me out of my silence to not only speak up and get the officer to see reason, but also go so far as to say, "I will vouch for this man."
Sandwiched between these two events was my mom's massive stroke, and that feeling of fear and helplessness, and reliance on the kindness of strangers... and my rector... to minister to me at a time of great need. Each of these moments transformed me and served as the reminder of what we heard today in 2 Corinthians at Morning Prayer:
"(S)ince it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
It's up to us to allow our compassionate selves to shine, and be willing to get involved when it is necessary and when it is truly the need for us to reflect the glory of God to one another.
May we all be so moved and transfigured in our beings!