This Thursday, August 6, was the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, when Jesus is revealed in glory to the disciples on the holy mountain, and also the 75th Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. Tuesday of this week saw the horrific and devastating effects of the explosion of ammonium nitrate in Beirut, Lebanon. I am not the first to note the juxtaposition of the impact of divine and human power, God’s glory shining through the person of Jesus and breaking into the world, set against the destructive force of human weaponry.
Yet in the Gospels the Transfiguration, indeed a moment of Glory, is already linked with human suffering: it comes at a turning point in Jesus’ ministry, as he sets his face towards Jerusalem, and his own imminent suffering and death. The Transfiguration is a sign to strengthen Jesus and the disciples, Peter, James and John, for what is to come; a sign that God’s glory shines through, even in times of testing.
Archbishop Michael Ramsey wrote in The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ (1949): “Confronted with a universe more terrible than ever in the blindness and the destructiveness of its potentialities, men and women must be led to Christian faith, not as a panacea of progress or as an otherworldly solution unrelated to history, but as a gospel of Transfiguration. Such a gospel transcends the world and yet speaks directly to the immediate here-and-now. He who is transfigured is the Son of Man; and as he discloses on the holy mountain another world, he reveals that no part of created things, and no moment of created time lies outside the power of the Spirit, who is Lord, to change it from glory to glory.”
In these disturbing times of COVID-19, are we able to catch glimpses of God’s Glory breaking through and shining in our world today, to give us grace, strength and hope to persevere?
Download the service booklet for Sunday here: Liturgy at Home Pentecost 10 Sun August 9 2020