Saturday, February 25, 2006

February 26: The Transfiguration of Our Lord

A few Sundays ago June and I worshipped at the Sunday evening contemplative Eucharist at Faith Lutheran Church in Lexington, Kentucky. After the final benediction, June asked Diana, one of the parishioners, why there were candles lit in many places in and around the altar. Diana answered, “Because it the season of Epiphany, the brightest season of the church’s year, and we want to remind ourselves that Jesus is the Great Light, the Light of the world, and he, in turn, is giving us light.”

Today, many churches—Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopal, among others—celebrate the Transfiguration of our Lord, the last Sunday of Epiphany; in their worshipping communities these Christians will hear the story of the Brightly-Shining Jesus, whom of his disciples saw in all his radiant glory. After hearing the story in the Gospel of Mark, their pastors will help them understand the meaning of Jesus' transfiguration and once again, our Lord will be worshipped and given glory.

As the Epiphany seasons comes to an end today, such churches may put away the candles because the church will soon emphasize the dark suffering and death of our Lord, the awful prelude to Easter. It’s for this reason that something else happens in many churches. As Ash Wednesday on March 1 begins the forty days of Lent, today Christians also sing their last Alleluia until Easter Eve. In this way, the church year moves us through the life of Jesus--today with much light and a great Alleluia; on Wednesday more somberly, in the shadows of things, so speak--without candles, without alleluias. If you are leaving the Season of Epiphany and entering Lent, you may wish to read Lutheran Pastor Lyle E. McKee's sermon, "The Tunnel at the End of the Light."


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