Me serving Liturgy for the Feast of the Transfiguration at Christ the Saviour parish in McComb, MS

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In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

This evening we begin our celebration of the Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. To spend a few moments thinking about this Feast – my personal favorite Feast – I thought tonight that we could look at the Troparion and Kontakion of the Feast and see what aspects of the Feast the Church brings to the front of our minds in the services.

In the Troparion for Feast we sing:
Thou wast transfigured upon the mount, O Christ God,
Revealing Thy glory to Thy disciples as far as they could bear it.
Let Thine everlasting light shine upon us sinners,
Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, glory to Thee

The first two lines of the Troparion essentially remind us of what we read in the Gospels about the Transfiguration. At the top of Mt Tabor, our Lord reveals His divinity to 3 of His disciples (Peter, James, John) by allowing them to glimpse His divine glory “as far as they could bear it.” His face shines like the sun and His garments shine brightly like light as He stands atop the mountain talking with Moses and Elijah. This is an experience beyond the comprehension of most Christians – being allowed to glimpse the glory of God. If we remember the Old Testament, Moses was allowed only to see the backparts of God, and his face shined so brightly afterward that the people were afraid and his head was covered with a bag until the effect of the glory of God on his face had gone down. The mountain is then covered by a cloud, and the Apostles again hear the voice of the Father (having heard it the first time at our Lord’s baptism) saying “This is My Beloved Son, in Him I am well pleased, hear Him.” This experience of the Apostles seeing the divine light of Christ is not an isolated incident – St. Paul on the road to Damascus has the same experience, as do a great many of our Saints – the experience of seeing the glory of God. So the troparion then makes a request – Let Thine everlasting light shine upon us sinners. We acknowledge ourselves to be sinful and therefore unworthy of seeing the divine light of our Saviour. Yet at the same time we beseech Him that He would bathe us in His light, just as He did the 3 Apostles on Mt. Tabor, St. Paul and so many of the Saints. This request assumes that we are fellow followers of Christ, along with the Apostles. They were able to see the divine light because of their relationship with Christ. We then end the troparion by offering praise unto God for this manifestation of His glory – Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, glory to Thee.

In the Kontakion for the Feast we sing:
Thou wast transfigured upon the mount, O Christ God,
Revealing Thy glory to Thy disciples as far as they could bear it.
So that when they saw Thee crucified,
They would know that Thy suffering was voluntary,
And would proclaim to the world that Thou art the Light of the Father.

The first two lines of the Kontakion mirror those of the Troparion, reminding us of the actual Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. We then we go on to sing these two very important lines – So that when they saw Thee crucified, they would know that Thy suffering was voluntary. The first word, “so,” tells us that in this kontakion we’re hearing one of the deeper purposes and meanings of the Transfiguration. Christ revealed His glory to the disciples to negate the scandal of the crucifixion before it even happened. The disciples were to see the glory of God in Christ on top of the mountain, and then they were to understand that anything that happened to Him was by His own will. They were to know that His sufferings on the Cross were accepted willingly. Of course, we know how this actually played out. As with so many other things that Christ revealed to the Apostles, once the soldiers came to take Him, they forgot the revelation of His glory and fled. The Transfiguration was only seen to be what it truly was after the Resurrection. After Christ crushed death with His Resurrection, then the Apostles realized that they had known His glory all along, especially as revealed on Mt. Tabor. So now, Christians today can look back and know that this is truly a great feast, the clearest revelation of the divinity of Christ during His earthly ministry outside of the Resurrection. And as we all know, once the disciples understood, once they saw the glory of Christ in the Resurrection, they were able to fulfill the last line of the kontakion – And would proclaim to the world that Thou art the Light of the Father. Since the time of the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, the Church has proclaimed the deity of Christ, of one essence with the Father and Holy Spirit. We proclaim that God has has become man, and offers us life with Him and salvation.

May we also witness this great feast of our Lord, and join the Apostles in proclaiming the Gospel to the world. The world is desperately in need of Christ, the world desperately needs the divine light of our Saviour. May God guide and help us to show the world this light. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson

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