Dear Hyde Park Family,
What are the defining moments of your life?
All of us can point to memories that we consider pivotal in shaping who we are today. Perhaps you think of the day you got married, the birth of a child, or the moment you survived a near-death episode. These moments change you, leaving an indelible imprint.
For Jesus, the transfiguration was a defining moment in his life. On a mountaintop with his three closest friends, Jesus appeared glowing white, accompanied by Elijah and Moses. And he heard a voice from heaven: “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
The synoptic gospel writers tell this story about halfway in their gospels, to suggest that the transfiguration was not just important to the life of Jesus, it was important to the salvation story of all humanity. The presence of Elijah and Moses, the words heard at Christ’s baptism, and the allusion to mountaintop experiences throughout the Bible all point to the grand sweep of salvation history.
The transfiguration story is therefore a defining moment for all those who walk the life of faith. Will we choose to stay on the mountaintop, as Peter, James, and John preferred, or will we enter a life of self-sacrifice, commitment, and surrender to God?
Wesleyan Christians refer to the daily decisions to follow Jesus as the process of sanctification. It is the grace-empowered journey of slowly being conformed to the image of Christ in every aspect of our lives. Catherine Livingston was a nineteenth-century Methodist married to the preacher Freeborn Garretson. In an entry in her personal diary, she reflected on the defining moment in her life, when she chose to identify with Christ, in his death and resurrection:
I find myself more than ever engaged for sanctification. I desire to rest in nothing short of this great privilege. I want to serve my God with a perfect heart and willing mind. I have long seen a great beauty in this doctrine, and long to bear witness to the truth of it. I last night dreamed I was crucified. Be it so, Lord Jesus! Let me die that I may live, and that my life may be hid with you. Such a day of heaviness and travail of soul I have not experienced in a long time. (Garretson Family papers, UMC Archives, Drew University)
This Sunday, we celebrate Transfiguration Sunday, the final Sunday before the season of Lent. Join us for this important last step of preparation before we begin our journey to the cross.
In the words of Peter on the mountain, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.”
Grace and Peace,
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist