“Rabbi, it is good for us to be here,” stammers Peter. “Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Like Peter, I want to mark a holy space with something I did. I want to move in. I want to sell tickets. I want to be sure everyone knows I am in the seen-it club. I don’t want to wash off my stamp and am going to wear my backstage tags to class tomorrow. Maybe Peter was the hipster disciple. “Yeah, I was at the transfiguration. You know those three shelters? Yeah, that was me.”
Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
Today, January 6, many Christians celebrate the fact that Jesus was revealed, not just to the few on the mountain, but to the folks in darkness who didn’t know how dark it was before Jesus showed up. Some folks call this Three Kings Day: three big-wigs from outside the family used questionable methods to find and honor the King of the Jews. Some folks call it Epiphany.
I have spent time looking at my story with God, and thought, “Man, this could use a rewrite.” It just didn’t have a very compelling crisis or dramatic turning point. It seemed like I just sort of went to church until I went to church and really meant it. Fire the narrator, too; that one’s a stinker.
I am starting to see my story differently. My story was boring because I was unwilling to surrender control of the plot. I wanted to write the story, and all my ideas were driven by fear and selfishness. I kept it boring to keep it from being humiliating. Then things got terrible. Then I needed saving. And I had an epiphany. Or, rather, I was given one.
From a letter attributed to stammering, proud Peter, to churches now made up of folks across borders that he never could have imagined:
For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Even better than twelve drummers drumming. I am thankful for another day of paying attention for the morning star to rise.