Last Sunday Of Epiphany – The Transfiguration

TO LIFT FROM SHADOW
(Matthew 17: 1-9)

I
The shadow fell six days before: he’d talked
of suffering death. His words so worried
Peter – the one just named by him the Rock
beneath the church – that Peter had hurried
to halt such ill-considered speech, bringing
a stiff (“You Satan!”) rebuke. He, the Christ
as Peter confessed, was just beginning
to teach them that to follow had a price:
a cross of their own, the sacrificial
love that was his way. If dreams of power
had spurred them, or other superficial
goals, they were soon to face with him the hour
of powerlessness and loss, of his pain
and death – and of a greater, lasting gain.

II
To lift them from shadow he has them climb
a mountain to a solitary place,
a peak where the wide air and slower time
could make for clearer views, an open space
for thought and prayer. Clouds draw near, sun grows
dimmed, but a stronger light begins to gleam:
Christ himself begins to shine, clothes to glow,
as if a veil has been raised on unseen
glory. Glazed in splendor, a stranger sight:
Moses, Elijah, speaking to Jesus
as to a friend. Amidst the blaze of light
a voice from the cloud that briefly freezes
the men with fear. They hear: “This is my son.
Listen to him.” – And the vision is done.

III
“Keep what you’ve seen”, Jesus says, “to yourselves
until after I’ve risen from the dead.”
And while it seems the case that no one tells
the tale – despite wonder filling their heads –
before his death and resurrection, we
have the story now. . . preparing to make
our own journey to the cross and empty
tomb. Darkness will fall again, but we take
the bright vision with us for strengthening
faith: the moments on mountain top a gift
to all we valley-bound, where lengthening
shadow can sometimes remind us to lift
our head:  To find the way that’s joy to live,
the light that leads us – within us – he gives.

Copyright © 2014 by Andrew King

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