Kolar: Discovering the Sacred

Rev. Janel Kolar write about the transfiguration of Jesus and its lesson for humanity

Rev. Janel F. Kolar is the pastor at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in Dickinson, North Dakota.
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Matthew 17:1-2: Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.

The transfiguration of Jesus was a momentous occasion. It showed the three men who were with him just how holy he was. Peter seemed particularly shaken by what was happening around him. He fell to the ground and started to talk – saying things that later he probably wished he hadn’t said, but things that came to him in the awe of that moment.

What Peter wanted to do was memorialize the place that this event took place, much like the ancient Israelites memorialized the places where momentous encounters with God took place. He wanted to build altars – to establish that mountain as a holy place. But Jesus was not having that. The mountain, in itself, was just an ordinary mountain. What was sacred was the event, the moment.

Jesus wants us to understand that sacredness is not in clouds, mountains, or even days on a calendar. Christ touching something, be it a mountain, a cloud, a word, a human soul -- is what transforms it into "sacred". On that day, the souls of three men were changed, and after the resurrection, when they recalled this “vision” (as Jesus referred to it), the additional meaning and sacredness helped many others to understand just who Jesus was. The beloved of God, to whom we should listen.

Perhaps God defined what was sacred and important in the best way possible that day – what is sacred – what was important -- is whatever Jesus says and how we will listen to his teaching, his advice, and his living Spirit.

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