|Pen and Ink Reflections||
‘Who do you say that I am?’ Jesus’ question to the disciples is one for all of us, isn’t it? Indeed, if you are like me, it is a question you will answer in different ways at different times. Sometimes that may feel like a growing and deepening sense of who Jesus Christ is. At other times it may feel like a peeling away, and even a painful deconstruction, of old or unsatisfying patterns of understanding. Either way, my own sense is that if we are not continually being transformed by a transfiguring understanding of God in Jesus Christ then we have largely missed the point of the journey of faith. That was Peter’s mistake, wasn’t it? Today we only hear about his great confession of Christ and of gifts Jesus bequeathes to him. This passage is immediately followed however by Jesus’ powerful rejection of Peter’s failure to understand him and his calling. ‘Get behind me Satan!’, Jesus cries out. For the Christ Peter had seen, and wonderfully declared, was not the full picture he needed to see. So it is in our own lives, in the church and world today…
I love being trans. How about you? No, I am not so much speaking about being transgender, as about simply being human, or at least a Christian variety thereof: in other words, about being a person who is transfiguring. That is each and every one of us. This is not to downplay the significance of someone being transgender, or otherwise. After all, we still have some way to go in working through that. The particularity of each of our human lives really matters. Each transgender life and story is also unique: a special creation in God’s love. Yet, the more I reflect upon it, in a powerful sense, in the divine economy, being transgender is also a way of helping us all recognise that each of us is continually invited to embrace transfiguration. For, as human beings, as Christians, we are never fixtures but loved works in process. What we shall be is not what we are now. All that is loving in our past and present is indeed taken up into what we shall be. In the glory of God however, we are, and will be, so much than we can ever imagine. This is part of the gift of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ which we celebrate today…
If you were only allowed one book from the Hebrew Scriptures, which would you choose? It would be a tough selection, wouldn’t it? At the risk of being called a Marcionite, there are a few books I might dispense with quite cheerfully: not least Leviticus (that continuing bane of some people’s lives) and also Numbers, and perhaps Ezra and Nehemiah. Personally, I’d also be happy to see quite a few other passages put to one side, including the invasion of the land by Joshua. However it would be hard to choose just one book to keep. For Isaiah would be high on my list, together with Genesis and the Psalms, Lamentations and some of the other prophets. In the final analysis however I’d pick Exodus: a book which begins with abject slavery and ends in the glorious presence of God. Along the way, we see all kinds of adventures, highs and lows, encounters and transformations, betrayals and revelations, miracles and mercies: all ending in today’s vision of clouds and glory. Such a core story which encompasses so much about living faith! What a perfect prelude today to this Sunday’s feast of the Transfiguration….