August Journal: Eighth Sunday after Trinity

It is a rich time, an unfolding time, a time full of fullness, a time when we pause and wonder at the world about us and how we came to be here, to live each day in beauty, truth, and goodness, to love and esteem one another, each as a child of God.

Yesterday was the Feast of the Transfiguration, and I learned something in church today about the light of God, the light that transfigured the face of Christ as he spoke in a cloud with Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets). The scene has always dazzled me with its many surreal qualities, a scene that no one could possibly make up who hadn’t been there. It’s puzzling at first. Did it really happen? But the Church has expounded for us for centuries, helping us understand the short narrative we find in the Holy Gospels.

What struck me today was the light. The light of God can be blinding, our preacher said today. To look into the face of God – too bright for us, unless we have been transfigured ourselves, unless we have grown through repentance, have chosen the right path through our time on earth. “Fear not,” the angels say when they visit. Shepherds cover their eyes as they look to the heavens to see the choir of angels on the eve of Christ’s birth. The light is so bright, so blinding. So bright to be burning. So bright to be a fire that consumes. And so our path leads us to Heaven, prepares us to choose Heaven. For those on the wrong path will be blinded by the light, burned by the flames.

Is this where we recognize the flames of Hell? The light of God will either burn or transfigure. C.S. Lewis in The Great Divorce envisions Heaven as a place too real for the wraiths of Hell to endure. Blades of grass are sharp and cut through them. But those prepared for Heaven are real enough to walk on this same grass.

And so the light transfigures us, changes us, for we have been transformed.

There is a darkness over our land today. It is a darkness that makes it difficult for many to see their way to the path that will lead to Heaven. The darkness beckons, enshrouds, clouds. How do we know to turn away from the dirge we hear, the deadly wail of grievance and despair?

It’s easy. We turn away from the darkness of death and toward the light of life. We turn to the light of Christ found in our local church. We enter the doors and step inside. We learn to lean to the light by sitting alongside others seeking God and the path to Heaven. We learn we are not alone on the path. We learn we are sisters and brothers, children of God. In fact, St. Paul tells us today, we have received “the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father… we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:12+)

In the nave we sit together, sing together, speak together as one voice. We form a family, where many become one in Christ. Each one of us is unique, never created before and never to be created again. The Master himself made us, a glorious creation, each adding to the seamless garment of many colors. We face and embrace the light of Christ on the altar in the tabernacle, alit by flaming candles, and sunlight shafting from above. We step into the aisle and walk in line with our sisters and brothers to receive the Real Presence. We become one Body, the Church, the Bride of Christ.

Christians experience a miracle many times over in the consecration of bread and wine. But they also receive a miracle many times over in the many becoming one. We who have been divided by race, abilities, genders, beliefs, know this is true. We know this is how we should be – not divided, but undivided, united by the love of God our Creator, united by adoption, united as his children, each unique, each a part of this family of God. We know this is how it should be, how it is meant to be. And we are reminded by Scripture, by song, creed, and prayer, that we are one body before our Father in Heaven. We sing with one voice, Gloria.

We are reminded how to see the path, how to turn toward the light, how to listen and to learn and to love, for such a path transfigures and enlightens and leads us to Heaven, as one Body, the Bride of Christ.

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