A FORESHADOWING OF THINGS TO COME
This first Sunday of March 2019 will be “Transfiguration Sunday.” It is the last Sunday before we begin the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. All kinds of things “change” with the season of Lent: we no longer sing “Alleluias” and the Graduals and Opening Sentences of our worship are of a darker mood and ominous tone. But before we begin the Lenten journey, we get to see a “foreshadow” of Christ’s glory through the witness of Peter, James and John.
When I was in school, the Lion’s Club threw an all-sports banquet at the end of the year to celebrate what the various athletes in the various sports had accomplished. Annually, a well-known sport figure was invited to give an inspiring or encouraging message to the young athletes being honored. We had Dan Pastorini and Elvin Bethea from the Oilers; Gordy Howe of the Houston Aeros (yes, Houston had a hockey team); we even had the coach of the Houston Cougars speak to us. Each year was a time to be “wowed” by the speaker and acknowledged for whatever sport or sports you had participated in; it was a great night in a high school athlete’s life.
What I remember most, however, is that as an eighth grader, we were invited to come to the banquet as the guests of the High School coaches. They wanted us to witness the festivities and experience the encouragement of the speakers to prepare us for the pre-season work and effort that would be required once we hit High School. They wanted the image of a major celebrity handing out a medal or certificate as the coach called out your name burned into our brains – especially when it was 100+ degrees (Fahrenheit, of course) and you were sweating and sick and wondering whatever possessed you to try out for the football team! Going as an eighth grader was meant to be an encouragement to you before you faced the challenges to encourage you to keep on going when the inner voice was telling you to “Stop!”
On that mountaintop experience, as Peter, James and John saw Moses and Elijah, standing with Jesus in his heavenly glory, they were being given a “foreshadow” – a glimpse of things to come. Granted, they still had to descend that mountaintop to the “valley of the shadow death” as David once described our walk in life. They would doubt and they would be afraid, and they would think about “bugging out” when Jesus was arrested, and they feared for their life. But, perhaps…maybe…they remembered their witness to Jesus’ glory alongside Moses and Elijah; perhaps…maybe…could be…God had given them a “foreshadowing of things to come” to keep them on their journey when their inner voice screamed “Stop! Don’t do it! Run away!” And, perhaps…maybe…we, too, might keep that image of our “transfigured Jesus” in mind when days seem dark and challenging – looking forward to the “Well done, good and faithful servant” acclamation of our Savior when our days are done and our journey is finished.