Scripture: Luke 9:33 (NRSV)
Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.
Life is change, so it is said. Beyond change, 'transfiguring' means to change form, to take on a new shape, a new body; it is the outer expression of an inner transformation, it is the word become flesh claiming more body space. Transfiguring in scriptural imagining is a changing form toward the divine.
The past several years have been a transfiguring time for me. Thanks to a confluence of events, I found the courage and urgency I needed to come out as lesbian fully to myself and to others.
Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. In front of Peter, James and John he changes form. As Peter says after it happened, it was good that he, John and James were there to witness Jesus' transfiguring.
It is good to be witness to another's transfiguring. It is good to be witnessed in our transfiguring. We do it all the time, often without allowing the import of it to sink in.
Early in my coming out, a friend took me to get my hair cut. She enthusiastically photographed the transformation. By her being there, bearing such good witness to me, the transfiguring was allowed to sink in all the more.
Witnessing and being witnessed in our transfiguring gives us the grace to keep becoming.
Coming out as lesbian was just the start of my transfiguration. In its wake a whole new world has been born, and I continue to come more fully into my life.
That's where it gets tricky. Change begets change, and becoming becomes more, which is a hard reality to manage. One big change is enough, the good people say! In the wake of transfiguring, everything gets shuffled around; things, people and patterns of thought that were a long part of our life before the change found expression fall away. The context that made the transfiguring possible no longer serves the new being. It can feel like a wild, untamed place and in a real way it is.
If we look to the Transfigured One for guidance, we see that we aren't asked to manage what happens in the wake of the change. Jesus agrees with Peter that it is good he, John, and James are there to witness Jesus' transfiguring. He disagrees, though, that Peter should build a structure to contain the experience.
We are all in the heave of transfiguring; answering, avoiding, or desiring to respond to the call to become more fully ourselves.
When a confluence of events brings us the courage and urgency we need to let the transfiguring happen, it is good to be enthusiastically witnessed; when that happens to another it is good to enthusiastically witness them. It's by this witnessing that the transfiguring of one becomes the transfiguration of many. We don't have to manage the transfiguring or worry about how it will change things; we have to show up for it, witness its beautiful becoming power, and follow into the new world where it now leads.
Holy God, open our eyes to the changes that you have set in motion in this world, and give us the courage to worry less and follow further.
Lindsey Peterson is a General Synod delegate and is the Designated Term Pastor at the South Congregational Church in Springfield, MA.