This coming Sunday celebrates Jesus’ Transfiguration, when Jesus meets Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop. His clothing shines dazzling white, and his true identity as Son of God is made known to the disciples Peter, James and John, as a cloud envelops them. Peter mumbles something about being glad they were there to see this, and should he build booths to commemorate the occasion, someplace to come to remember the event in the future, and out of the cloud comes a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!”
Transfiguration Sunday marks the end of the season of Epiphany. Epiphany means revealed or discovered, an “aha!” moment. In this season, Jesus’ identity as Son of God is discovered or revealed as he begins his earthly ministry.
Epiphany Day is Jan. 6, when the Magi find Jesus, worship him, and deliver gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These were the first non-Jews to whom Jesus’ identity was revealed.
As Jesus’ ministry began, he was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and his identity was announced through a dove descending on him and by a voice from heaven declaring him God’s beloved.
Jesus’ identity was demonstrated throughout his ministry as he resisted the wilderness tests Satan put before him, as he preached and taught with power and authority (quite unlike the local religious leaders), as he healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out demons and unclean spirits, as he lived his life in accordance with God’s expectations, even dying on the cross.
We, too, are to claim our identities as beloved children of God, named and claimed by God. My tradition recognizes this happening at baptism, but other traditions recognize this occurring at other times. Regardless of when the naming and claiming takes place, we are recognized, named and claimed by God, and our identity is forever changed.
We, too, should live our lives in accordance with God’s expectations for us, both in general, and in particular. Each of us is to live as a God-filled human being.
We also are each called to unique, individual callings, whether that is a familial calling (to be a parent, aunt/uncle, cousin, part of a “chosen/friend” family, etc), a calling to a specific paid job (nurse, teacher, construction worker, plumber, judge, etc.) or non-paid vocation (expert dog-walker, volunteer with children/youth/elderly, gardener, artist, etc).
Whatever we do, we are to reflect our identity as God’s beloved child as we live out our lives, through our actions, our words, our responses.
This Sunday is the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, the 40 days before Easter where we reflect on Christ’s obedience to God as he lived into his identity as God’s Son.
We are not called to such extremes, but we are called to live out our Christian identity in this broken world to the best of our abilities. May God equip and strengthen us to do so!