Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Early in the month of August we celebrate one of the church’s great feasts: The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. This feast, marked on August 6, celebrates the experience of James, John, and Peter, who witnessed Christ “transfigured” on Mount Tabor. One main idea that comes from early commentators on the Transfiguration is that what we see in the transfigured Jesus is not his “divinity” (what makes him different form us) but rather his completed, divinized “humanity” (what makes him the same as us). And it’s certainly true that in our and other traditions there are stories of similar transfiguration.
One of the most famous is the story of St. Seraphim of Sarov (d. 1833), who was transfigured just like Christ in the presence of his disciple, businessman Nikolay Motovilov. I’ve mentioned this story briefly in a sermon a few months back. What is most interesting in this account is this: when seeing the transfigured Seraphim, Motovilov became afraid, and felt he was unworthy to be in Seraphim’s presence. In response, Seraphim said to him something like this: “My joy, you would not be able to see me as I now am unless you, too, were presently in the same state!” In other words, it was the Christnature (the transfigured humanity) of Motovilov that was able to see, and recognize, the Christ-nature in St. Seraphim.
For us today we do not need to climb Mt. Tabor to have this experience. It requires only the opening of the eye of the heart—and that we can do anywhere. When we look for the Christ in one another, when we truly seek the transfigured Self in one another as we are, our own nature begins to shine like the Sun for all to see. This means speaking to one another as if we are addressing Christ within them; it means thinking about one another as if we were thinking about Christ within them; it means treating one another as if we were hosting the Christ within them. When we encounter one another as “my joy” as Seraphim did, we become able to see their transfigured Selves and they, ours. It is as if we are given a pair of special spiritual glasses that renews our vision, allowing us to truly see: “In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew… barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!” (Colossians 3:11).
The mountain of Transfiguration is everywhere—in each of our interactions and thoughts, in every word and cup of coffee shared among us and with others. May we constantly seek the opening of the eye of the heart in how we treat one another, that the Light of Christ that is all and in all may shine upon us!
Together in ministry,
The Rev. Dr. James H. Reho,
Sunday 8:00 AM
Sunday 9:00 AM
HOLY EUCHARIST WITH MUSIC
Sunday 10:00 AM
Sunday 10:00 AM