I am getting excited and a bit anxious.
This coming Sunday is the last after the Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday in the calendar-the "Feast so nice, we observe it twice" (next date, August 6th) on the liturgical calendar.
I love the observance of that experience on the mountain top. Chiefly, because it heralds a moment of human experience of Christ as the divine that is both intensely private and exquisitely ill-kept as a secret of the community of faith. Peter, James and John are told explicitly NOT to say anything about the experience...and yet, here we are talking about it openly in the assembly of the Church.
On top of that, we are pushed into a thin place to experience God. This is the knowledge that the holy is drawing near, that we are being transfigured as the Body of Christ, that something is about to happen to us and to this world. It is about as close to pure apocalyptic as we can get to in the synoptics. Good stuff. God is not so distant, and that immediacy effects us. We are different afterward...But we also CAN'T hold on to it. Time marches on, and so does the community of the disciples as Jesus makes his way from the mountain top of the Transfiguration to the hilltop of the crucifixion at Calvary.
So, Lent looms over us. How fitting, and today we are embracing word that snow is coming. A lot of snow...or maybe just a bit, but it is the first storm of the season that we have had to embrace the idea of weathering. People are making their way to the supermarkets to buy out the towns' supplies of white bread, milk, toilet paper and batteries. Forget green, leafy vegetables. This is survival we are talking about! Get those necessities in mass quantities! Alert! Prepare! Even as the flurries arc in tumbling swirls outside my office window, that which is anticipated with dread is fast approaching.
One of the things that I am viewing with enthusiasm as it approaches is the annual visit of the African Episcopal Church of St Thomas' Gospel Choir. Last year was my first experience of being with them as we led the congregation in worship and praise. What better way to mark the observance of the Transfiguration of Our Lord that to be transfigured with the energy and light that these singers and musicians bring to our sanctuary. The pillars of the sanctuary almost literally shake with the intensity, and it takes me back to the albums my grandfather used to play when I was a kid. There was the low, slow and heavy tone of "Miss Mahalia" Jackson (I was NOT allowed to speak when she was singing). There was the wild abandon of the New Orleans jazz masters my grandfather had played with "back in the day." I love it.
Granted, I love it all. From being slain in the spirit wailing to the high Latin of Palestrina. But, for a change of pace, I do enjoy stomping and clapping to music that I do not hear too often in the Episcopal Church.
So, the storms draw close: both in the white stuff that challenges us this week, and in the witness Trinity is called upon to make continually in the wider community as our life in Christ continues to unfold.
Time to draw in close to our selves, to set down some of the frantic and to remember that storms and transfigurations come and go. What remains for us is to continue, through ups and downs, to be the Body on the way.