St. Luke 9.vv.28-36

~ Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter, and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah", not knowing what he said. Whilst he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my chosen; listen to him!". When the voice had spoken Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen. ~

After more than 30 years in the North East of England I am still finding new meanings to the magical word "canny". I think even natives don't understand all its connotations. But I do understand, as we all do, the meaning of "uncanny", i.e. other-worldly, awesome, strange.

Most Bible stories refer to events that are simple and easily grasped, but three New Testament events have the uncanny breaking through of the other-worldly into this world of sense and experience. They are the Baptism of Christ, the Temptations of Christ, and the Transfiguration with the voice and presence of the "Great Beyond". At times of great significance in our Lord's life these events took place, i.e. his acceptance by the Father, his acceptance of the role he was to play and his preparation for his departure. Jesus lived as a human being; but at time of great crisis his divinity shone through in a very special way so that the glory, the power, the presence of God and the splendour of God were made manifest, reassuring him of the care and closeness of God giving him courage and strength for the tasks ahead.

This "theophany" or "showing of God" happened not only to Jesus. We see it in the account of Moses on the mountain (Exodus 34.vv.29-end). St Paul refers to both events in II Corinthians 3.vv.4-end and the Transfiguration is well attested in the New Testament.

To what extent, one wonders, can this Transfiguration experience be shared by other people? I can testify that I have seen the glory of God in many faces. It may be in the serene and beautiful faces of young people (are not figures of the Madonna and the Saints modelled upon the lovely faces we see around us?). I have seen it in the care-worn and wrinkled faces of the aged who have gained the peace that passes all understanding. In sorrow and in joy, faces may be lit up by that inner sense of God's presence, power, joy, splendour and glory.

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