Who can anticipate those moments in life which prove to be transforming? Sometimes they pass us by and it isn’t until much later that we realize their significance. Occasionally, we realize something of importance is occurring before our eyes even if we do not fully understand it. Mostly, we are gifted with insights that build towards a greater, final vision. Clearly, the transformation, the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountaintop was all of the above.
“Let light shine out of darkness,” wrote our patron saint, Paul; this from the man who had experienced the deepest of darkness. As a murderous religious fanatic, he had been on a mission to destroy the “followers of the way” of Jesus. Right in the middle of that mission he was seized by the love of God and transformed – so transformed he became (quite literally) blind. Thereafter, he lived no longer to bring death, but to bestow life through the good news of Christ.
The most terrifying statement I have ever heard from a person who was a dear friend was that they loved living in the United States because nothing like the Holocaust could ever happen here. I would like to believe that - but to do so would be to ignore the reality of human life. Each of us has within us the power for great good and the power for evil. None of us can ever be purely one or the other, however it might seem. Each of us is a sanctuary of grace and a grave of sin. To deny this is to live a life of denial, and to risk operating out of the shadow side we would rather not acknowledge. By contrast, to own our
personal goodness and sinfulness is to free ourselves to see the grace in each other.
Paul has no illusions about himself – how could he when he did so much that was wrong in the name of religion? But he also knew himself as changed by God’s gracious love. As we gather this coming Sunday to support those who are taking on conscious commitment to Christ by confirmation and reception, we are reminded of the freedom of the Christian life. We can tell our story, discard illusion, and live into the real.
On this, the Last Sunday after the Epiphany I am reminded that the divine word is the invitation to transformation for our own sake and the sake of the world. Imagine – imagine a world transformed by your love.
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves