And they kept silent, and in those days told no one of any of the things they had seen. Luke 9: 36
So ends the Gospel lesson for last Sunday, the story of the Transfiguration. It was quite a scene on that mountaintop: Jesus, whose face became dazzling white, with three of the disciples; the appearance in glory of the long-gone Moses and Elijah; the great cloud; and the voice of God, with instructions to listen to his Son. Rev’d. Geoffrey’s sermon provided useful insight into what this was all about … but I’m still thinking about that last line. Peter, John and James didn’t tell anyone what happened, not even the other disciples. Jesus indeed had instructed them not to speak of this revelation of his divine nature, and maybe they were just good secret-keepers.
But did they start wondering if it really happened? Or were they worried that people would think they were crazy or making it up? I had one experience that I consider a “holy happening,” and I chose to share it with a few people I loved and trusted. They later laughingly described it to others at a dinner party, like it was some joke. My blessed revelation was ridiculed. It hurt, and it was a painful lesson learned. Had the disciples had been through something similar and didn’t want to go through it again?
Were they frightened? The Transfiguration was toward the end of Christ’s ministry, and as this radical Jesus became known, his followers were aware of the building animosity and possible danger. Was it safer to be quiet?
I identify with them. You and I, more often than we’d like to admit, keep our relationship with Jesus to ourselves. In these times, we know that some might feel we are those Christians” who are espousing hurtful ideas, and that’s frightening. Or we may be perceived as naïve oddballs in our workplaces. We may say that our faith is personal, but unlike the three disciples, we were not asked to keep quiet. We have been commissioned to proclaim our faith. Today.
Some years ago, I watched a Jimmy Carter interview on the Tonight Show. As one might expect, most of the dialogue was funny, with lots of laughter. Then Carter was asked why, as an ex-president who could have a nice retirement, he kept traveling to troubled parts of the world. Without missing a beat, he quietly responded, “Because I worship the Prince of Peace.”
I want to be able to do that. I want it to be okay to be an oddball for Jesus if someone decides that’s what I am. I truly believe that there are many roads to God—my daughter is an ordained Zen Buddhist, for Pete’s sake. It feels like the right time for each of us to lovingly proclaim and move down our individual road. It might even change the world.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry with our roadmap:
“Now is our time to go. To go into the world to share the good news of God and Jesus Christ. To go into the world and help to be agents and instruments of God’s reconciliation. To go into the world, let the world know that there is a God who loves us, a God who will not let us go, and that that love can set us all free.”