Transfiguration and “The Asbury Revival”

– watching the sunrise from Sinai

As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

Luke 9:33

Sunday, according to the rhythms of the Christian Calendar, was “Transfiguration Day”. In church it is traditional to read the story describing the time Christ went up a mountain and, according to Luke’s account, “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning.” 

The word transfiguration means to transform into something more beautiful or elevated. It suggests some event, or encounter, that results in not just a change of appearance but a change in substance, and essence.

It’s an important idea because so much of religion – even Christianity – can be unproductive and fruitless in terms of day-to-day impact. Yet if ever there was a time in which something dramatic was needed, especially something that elevated not just our experience but our actual selves, then that time is now.

The Asbury Revival:

So this is – in a roundabout way – my commentary in response to the celebrated “Asbury Revival” in Kentucky, that has been creating a stir since it’s inception a couple of weeks ago.

My question for those who have been involved, or spectators, or in some way contributing to the narrative, is this: “Is this encounter with Jesus elevating you in some way, elevating your relationships, your service to others, the evidence of ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ in your life? Is this experience of a ‘thin place’ resulting in something more beautiful? Were you transformed in the presence of God, or simply entertained?”

This is actually a good question for each one of us who put ourselves in a place where we brush up against the Holy. On The Mount of Transfiguration, the substance of Christ’s true self was revealed. Jesus wasn’t so much changed as uncloaked. Likewise, when we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with the light of God, we are being “powered up” not so much from the outside as from deep places of truth about what God has intended in and through us from the beginning, The Beginning.

We are elevated, then, we become more beautiful, because that is who we are! Jesus… God… the Holy Spirit are agents of activation. I believe the power of God transforms us more fully into ourselves.

Just a short (maybe) story to help:

A companion story often read with the Transfiguration account is that of Moses going up Mount Sinai.

When I climbed Sinai, early one cold January morning, arriving in time to see the most amazing sunrise I have ever been privileged to witness (read “Destination God” for pictures and details) I encountered God in a profound way.

My transformation, in that moment, was not because God lives on top of a mountain, but because of the effort it took to get there.

God is everywhere, and we can meet our Creator, intimately, sitting in the comfort of our easy chair at home. Proximity is not the issue.

But preparation often is. Sometimes we need to be roused from sleep at 1:00 am, grab a strong cup of Egyptian coffee, hike from the hotel to the monastery in the frosty night air, negotiate with a Bedouin herder for a camel, careen recklessly into the pitch darkness holding on for dear life, climb precipitous paths by starlight, get off the camel when the path turns to rock-climbing, reach the summit an hour before dawn, and then wait – patiently – for the first drops of sunlight to spill over the Sinai Desert and begin to flood our senses with wonder.

– on top of Mt. Sinai

God told Moses, “Get up early in the morning and meet me on top of Mt. Sinai.”

God is telling me the same thing. Every day – DEREK

3 comments

  1. Sometimes proximity is an issue. God often moves powerfully in gatherings of believers. The church is supposed to gather in specific locations whether it be in a small room at Pentecost, Sunday morning, or Asbury college. Not that everyone is supposed to go to Asbury, but it’s amazing what’s happening there with these young people. When big things happen, it gets attention and then people come. Great opportunity for the gospel and a good testimony to the rest of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

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