Have you ever had one of those moments when you just knew you were experiencing a vision of the glory of God? I have them constantly. I find that I tend to have these experiences during some of the most stressful or trying times of my life. Just in time to give me strength to stand up to the struggles of life. There is a reason why we get to witness with James, John, and Peter the transfiguration, the one instance that not even the nine other disciples got to experience. We are invited so we too will see the holiness of Jesus and allow for the vision of God to give us courage and to allow for it to help transform our lives.
For the past couple of weeks, my family has been under an enormous amount of stress and worry. Last week, my mother was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance because of heart palpitations and pain in her chest. She spent the night having numerous tests which came back with results pointing to an aneurysm. If there were ever a time when I needed a vision of the glory of God these past couple of weeks were it. And that is exactly what I received. It wasn’t in the form of the shining image of Christ or the glow of God in the face of Moses. I believe it appears differently in today’s world. It might be in the experience of the beauty of a sunrise, in the fresh air of a walk or hike; it could be in our interactions with humanity. It is all around us. For me, it came from the sensitive nature of my dog.
On Monday, after finding out my mother’s diagnosis, I got home from church and just sat in my living room trying to process and make sense out of the struggles my family was facing and what this could possibly mean. Maia came over to me and flipped my hand over top of her head and cuddled in under my arm grunting and she laid there next to me calmer than she normally is after being in her crate all day. She wouldn’t leave my side for the rest of the night. In that moment of care and love I caught a glimpse of God glory, of His care, of His compassion. I was being given a reminder that my family was not alone in our experiences. God is walking this journey with us. It was a transformative experience for me because it helped me to feel the presence of the Holy and helped me to learn to place my trust in God’s work in this world.
Trust. Trust is what the transfiguration is all about whether it was the experience of Moses and the people of Israel with the glory of God or the experience of the three disciples watching as Christ was transfigured right before their eyes. James, John, and Peter were very important figures in the story of Christianity. It was no mistake that they were the ones to see the glory of God. They would become the leaders in the Christian movement after Jesus’ ascension into the heavens. But they needed to experience the glory of God before they began to experience the struggles that they were to encounter.
Pope Benedict XVI preached in 2006, “These [transfiguration experiences] are usually brief experiences that are sometimes granted by God, especially prior to difficult trials”. These experiences come to prepare us even today for struggles. But I would venture to say that they come during our struggles, our personal seasons of Lent and if we are listening closely then we can extract the strength we need to live through our struggles using them to build our faith in the Holy instead of allowing for them to tear us down.
The disciples, as well as the people of Israel in Moses’ time, were being prepared for struggles that were going to be coming their way and they needed a dramatic sign of the presence of God to act as a reminder of God’s love and support. A reminder so that in the midst of their struggles, when life would become so difficult that they could no longer see nor hear God, they could hearken back to that experience of the Holy and feel His presence.
The Israelites faced fifty years in the desert after spending generations living in a land of plenty. They faced struggles and war to attain their land in the land of Palestine. They would spend so many years in the wilderness that many would never see the promise land. They needed to learn to trust that God would bring them where they needed to be but also to trust that in their most trying times that God would bring them through. Moses’ face would forever be a reminder to his people of the glory of God. He was their vision of the power, might, and presence of God in their community, in their congregation.
Peter, James, and John would face their own internal struggles with Jesus capture and trial. They would face their fear after his crucifixion. They would face persecution from gentile and Jew alike after Jesus’ ascension and ultimately they would face martyrdom for their beliefs. They needed to have this strong vision of the glory of God, a vision that would transform their lives in such a way that they could trust in the will of the Lord. So they could begin to trust that God walked with them in all their times of struggle.
We too, face our times in our life journeys when we can’t feel God, when we can’t hear God’s words of comfort and care. We, too, are given those visions of the glory of God. This is why we are invited by the author of Luke into the transfiguration. We just need to realign our attention to the Holy, to God, to recognize those moments when they come. They come to remind us that we are not alone. God is all around us in every experience we have. Whether it is through our relationships with others, our relationship with the natural world, or in our interactions with those things that we love, He uniquely reaches out to all of us at just the right time. And keep in mind, that how God communicates with me is not going to be same as for you. It is intended to be a unique experience for all of us.
So our challenge is to remain open to the possibilities of God in all the paths we walk in this life. Our Gospel reading says, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” We are called to listen for the words of Christ, to live the contemplative life and to look for the presence of God in all that we experience. We are called to trust in the power of the Lord knowing that he gives us the strength to face whatever struggles come our way. So, look for God, listen for God, and experience the vision of the Holy that will bring you through all that might come your way.
 XVI, Benedict. “Angelus.” Speech, Second Sunday of Lent, Saint Peter’s Square, Rome, March 12, 2006. Accessed February 1, 2016. http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/angelus/2006/documents, 1.
 Luke 9: 35, NRSV.
(Based on Exodus 34: 29-35 and Luke 9: 28-43)