A Bright Light Casts a Long Shadow

Sermon on the Transfiguration, Epiphany, Week 8

March 1, 2014

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Many people, especially those who are religious, have had epiphanies of some sort–moments of divine clarity, intervention or calling.  These epiphanies become the source of great faith and confidence in God.  But over time, they also become maddening teases as those epiphanies become less frequent or disappear altogether.

It would be great to figure out how we could consistently experience the light of God’s presence, wisdom and providence.  Countless sermons have been preached, books have been written and prayers have been prayed in humanity’s attempt to break through to an ongoing experience in the light of God’s magnificent presence.

But the reality of our spirituality is that we experience a lot more shadow than light.  Is that the result of a lack of faith or prayer?  Or is it exactly what God intends for us to experience?

In the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration in Matthew 17, we encounter a moment when Jesus is transformed from an average-looking Hebrew man into a radiant, divine being accompanied by two great prophets and the audible voice of God.  The three disciples who were with him were in awe.  Notice what Peter wants to do:  he says that they should build shelters so everyone could stay there and bask in the light of this moment.  But almost as soon as the light comes, it disappears.  And Jesus tells the disciples to follow him back down into the shadow of the valley.

Perhaps God is in the confusion, struggling and suffering of the shadows.  Maybe God gives us moments of light, but invites us to then be light in the shadows.  It’s not easy, it’s not comfortable and it doesn’t feel “spiritual.” But it might just be where God actually is and what God actually wants.

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