|Pen and Ink Reflections||
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….
Today we come to the climax of the Epiphany season - leaving all the little 'ephiphs', the mini revelations as it were in the foothills, we come to the very top of the mountain, to the big one, to the Transfiguration; to the moment when Jesus stands before his closest disciples in all His luminous glory. All too briefly the fullness of his divine nature is there to see. He shines with all the brilliance of a hundred thousand diamonds. And it is amazing! But not as amazing as what it implies for us and our world.
For the thing about diamonds, it is said, is that in chemical reality they are just chunks of coal that kept on doing their jobs. And that is helpful to us when we think about the fullness of humanity transfigured in Jesus Christ. We are like those lumps of coal. We have the potential to be diamonds, but mostly we don't and can't see the job through to the end. In the Transfiguration Jesus shows us what we would be if we did. This is the principle of theosis, or God-becoming that has been part of the Orthodox teaching of the church from the beginning. You and I and the whole created order have the potential to be transfigured, to reveal to the world the glory of God just as Jesus did, but it is a process that even in the best of us like Moses is fitful and incomplete this side of eternity...