One More Word On Transfiguration
My preparation for Transfiguration this past week was theologically transformative.
It brought together many things that I have been studying for the last 7 years, and I am now prepared to say that Transfiguration is pure gospel, and contains no law whatsoever, as Lutherans understand that dialectic. That there is not a word or suggestion of condemnation, but only of pure grace, mercy and peace in the Transfigured and crucified Christ who is: the Apostle and High Priest of our Confession. (Hebr. 3:1)
To reach this conclusion I ceased to view the gospel account of Transfiguration as a piece of information recorded simply in order to transmit knowledge of the event. Yes, it did factually happen as written, and we do indeed gain holy knowledge by this written Scriptural account. But I see Transfiguration as mystagogical (liturgico-sacramental) catechesis about an event to be repeated in the church every Sunday. The church is the mountain to which the baptized are called (thus: "brothers of a heavenly calling" in the epistle Hebr. 3:1), and Eucharist is the cloud. It doesn't get any more mystagogical than that.
And plaudits for the disciples who, even in their stupor, wanted to make the event permanent. For Transfiguration / Eucharist is the glorified Christ among us and in us. An event that will continue to be celebrated until the end of the age; when it will be taken up into the worship that perpetually happens at the heavenly altar. Where Jesus is our Liturgist (Hebr. 8:2). The High Priest of our confession / liturgy (Hebr. 3:1)
Let's talk about that "stupor". "For he did not know what he was saying." (Luke 9:33) This is not a negative, but a positive; the church's fitting response to the Eucharistic presence of Christ within her. Christ in glory. Yes, without question, a glory that anticipated the cross, the Lord's true glory. But glory none the less. Stupor is the condition of every Christian as he kneels at the altar. And if we are not so enveloped by the cloud, if not mystified and bewildered by what is here taking place, then we are in serious need of catechesis. The wonder of the Eucharistic event is the intersecting of heaven and earth! It is Christ coming again in glory to save his church and judge her enemies. It is the answer to every prayer. It is an installment of the very Parousia! (2nd coming) Not just a prophecy or sign of it, but a piece of it! Indeed, one rightly wonders why the entire edifice does not glow with blinding light as did the Lord's garments as the Bread and Cup are Transfigured in the church each Sunday surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses" (of which the five saints present were representative.) As Christ: present-s himself alive by these many proofs (Acts 1:3); and transfigures his people "from glory to glory" (2 Cor. 3:18)
It is true that the three disciples: kept silent in those days and told no one what had occurred. (Luke 9:36) But that all changed on Easter evening when the Crucified and eternally Risen Lord celebrated the Second Holy Communion at Emmaus; where they identified Jesus in the breaking of the Bread. And again one week later when faithful Thomas partook of the flesh of Christ - apart from which he would not believe anything. Nor should we. Jesus minus the Eucharist, is no Jesus at all.
No it is not bad to be here (Law), but Good. Truly Good, Right and Salutary. May we "make this hill our home." (TLH #135)