All Saints' Episcopal Church

How to “Transfigure?”

transfiguration06032011_01We live in a world where virtual realities are taking over actual realities. In 2011 Microsoft bought Skype for $8.5 billion. There is a battle going on here with Microsoft’s Skype Video Chat Service, Apple with FaceTime Video Chat Service and Google with Hangout Broadcasting services. All of them are trying to enhance virtual realities. What are all these? These are ways now you can make a video call or chat with some far away from you. I have to say I do use it when I can to talk to my people in India. I am sure several of you have used these technologies for talking to your dear ones away from your home. So, meeting someone virtually is not a bad idea after all. Diocese of Arkansas has tried a few of these technologies to save time and money and so does other dioceses, churches, leaders and nations.

I wonder if Elijah and Moses knew about virtual meetings? I wonder if they would have employed them if they did? I think I am going to open a virtual confessional and an automated forgiveness booth. May be better will be to create an automated avatar that could dispense someone with a penance, counseling service, complaint attendant and more. Possibilities are limited by only our imagination.

I think Moses brought a text message from God when he came with his two tablets. God was catching on. But it took a long for us to catch on to the technology God was sharing with us. Over 4000 years or so for texting to begin? Well….

Anyway, all to say, in a world that is now filled with facebook relationships, friends and families, face-to-face meetings, connections and care are fast disappearing. Virtual realities and technologies are taking over. We get automated computer prompts when we call. We get gavatars and avatars that look like us, talks like humans and make us believe that we are talking to a human being. The good old face-to-face visits are replaced by technology.

This makes me wonder, if Moses could have simply left his tablet in front of those crazy people, who were dancing around a cow? I wonder if he said, “you morons, read them on your own. I have no time for you or are interested in this outdated form of worship and pagan behavior? You are acting like idiots who lost their mind. I have nothing to do with you bunch of losers”. But instead, he calls them even in his anger to have a face-to-face conversation. He returns to God and then comes back again to talk to them in person. In this process, Moses is transformed and so did the rest of people of Israel.

I wonder if living in a world that is fast changing challenging us to learn some new ways of relationship. We have to find a new way of personhood rather than virtual fantasies. In a place called Second Life on the web, people create and manage their fantasies only to find out life is more meaningful, powerful and beautiful until they encounter another human being in their personal surroundings and real life.

While I am a fan of technology, I am still old school when it comes to worship, prayer and relationship. While I believe there is incredible beauty in the world we live in and is a better one than a few years ago, I still strongly believe our world can only be enhanced by being present to the other in their actual life situations than virtual situations.

I believe we are called upon to get out of all that we are engrossed in for an hour or two and be with those whose faces are not glowing or grand but familiar and searching. We are called upon to visit with those that do not seem to act holy, and whose countenance look the same as that of the old fashioned Fred, depressed Dorothy and dangerous Darlene.

We may be afraid that as we leave the mountaintop none of us might have the holiness of Moses. I am sure most of us will not glow like Moses or feel like Elijah. But let us not lose heart.

There is something very beautiful about today’s scripture. When Jesus came down from the mountain, his face was not glowing, but it seemed just like anyone of us. When Jesus returned to his hometown he was just like anyone of us in his appearance. But internally he knew he encountered God. He knew what he knows about himself was deeper than what others knew about him. His awareness of himself was greater than what he knew before. The apostles knew deeper who they were and who they are with.

True transfiguration happens in the mind and not in the body. True holiness is a change that happens within a person that changes the surroundings he or she is in by doing nothing to it, but being present in it. What makes the difference in the lives of people is the presence of the one that is changed, not the presence of the person that instigates the change and is tired in the process.

How do we learn this art of transfiguration? How do we experience God like Jesus on the mountaintop and be Christ like in the valley? Here are four simple steps to follow. May be I am simplifying too much. But here it is regardless.

  • Pray daily: “Lord show us the glory in the gray”. [1]
  • Believe daily: “Being fully alive means beholding God daily”.[2]
  • Know daily: “Relationship with God changes yourself rather than someone else”.
  • Accept daily: “Your face glows when your compassion flows”.

Transfiguration is an experience of those who are willing to meet with God daily. It is not reserved for Christ alone, but for all who are willing to follow Christ and set aside their time to be with God.

What is the outcome of meeting with God?

Silence. Deeper silence.

  • Transfiguration changes thought process.
  • Transfiguration transforms realities.
  • Transfiguration changes insignificant people into important friends.

It finally helps us to climb down the mountain and face realities daily.

So, be fully alive, for you will behold the Lord today here and around you. Life is then worth living.

Mayor Baker of Fort Smith, AR used to say, “It is worth living in Fort Smith, AR”. That is right, it is worth living life from the moment we behold God”.

So if you are up to it, I invite you to do this, “Open yourself to a relationship with God. Tell me where it took you in your relationship with the other.” And I will call it: Transfiguration.

[1] George MacLeod, founder of the modern-day Iona Community

[2]  Adapted from St. Irenaeus

How to “Transfigure?”

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