Updated: Feb 9
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Amanda Husberg
1. Wreathed in bright divinity,
Jesus’ light is all they see,
Luminous with dread and wonder,
Terrified they hear heav’n thunder
“This is my beloved Son!
Hear him, my beloved Son!”
2. Later, Peter, James and John
In the darkness let him down,
Sleeping as he begged his Father
“Take from me this cup of sorrow,
Not my will but yours be done.
Not my will but your be done.”
3. In the darkest night of all,
In the wormwood and the gall,
Did we see his glory shining,
What the Father was designing?
Did we see his grief and pain?
Did we see his grief and pain?
4. Come, Lord Jesus, help us catch
Glimpses in the long night watch
Of the light of our salvation,
As you reconcile creation,
Crucified and risen Son
Breaking in us like the dawn.
Text © Copyright 2008 Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
The Light. Shines Through the Darkness
Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: Carson Cooman
The light shines through the darkness
But if my eyes are veiled, I cannot see the glory Of Jesus Christ my Lord.
For if I cannot see him, My days will seem like night,
I’ll wander through the darkness
With nothing in my sight.
While I walk through the shadows
And need. your healing grace,
Lord, help me see the glory
Of your transfigured face.
Text © Copyright 2015 Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.
MEDITATION The Transfiguration of Christ is the climax of Epiphany, a season revealing Christ's divinity. This scene shows him fully to the three disciples who are stunned. They have had hints of his divinity as they observed his ability to cast out demons, to heal the sick, and to speak the truth. Ever since they heard his voice calling them to be his disciples, they knew here was something never before seen on earth and so they followed.
I have always wondered if seeing the Transfiguration changed how the disciples saw Christ as he suffered his passion and death. As they watched him being whipped, tortured and finally lifted up on the cross to die did they remember the glory of this day? If they did, they must have known they were watching their God being tormented. From what we read in the Gospels, it seems they really have forgotten.
We have heard the expression “mountain top experiences” and how they don’t last down in the valley of pain and suffering. This refers directly to this scene in Scripture. It was often used in my memory to warn Bible Campers that their time together around the word at camp was mountain top and now they would be going down into the valley where they would meet with difficulties and trials. And they should remember back to the mountaintop even if it might seem to go dim in their memory.
While I fully agree with the advice, I wish we could speak of it without such a clear line between the mountain and the valley. Jesus is still Lord, he is still shining and bright even as we face the darkness. Even as we ask where are you, Lord, could we not also say, open my eyes so I can see your radiance now in my suffering and trials?
The Gospel of John insists that the full glory of God in Christ is seen on the cross. To many that seems rather hidden—the Son of God dying in the most ignominious place one could find in the Roman Empire. Yet there it is. God come down to us, eager and willing to do whatever it takes to win us back. That is the reason the cross is at the center of Christian meditation.
When we contemplate Christ on the cross, we see a man suffering a terrible death. The artists who portray this moment must show that this is something more and somehow convey divinity without in any way taking away the notion of his full humanity. In the same way that it is difficult to remember the full glory of Christ as we are suffering the trials and terrors of the shadow of death, so it must be difficult to draw that into an image on canvas.
Because Christ died and rose again, and sent his Spirit to dwell within us, we are now made the temple of the Holy Spirit in our flesh. He promised us that he and his Father would come to dwell in us. That makes us holy, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, to sanctify us. In other words, could we not view the Transfiguration as an image of the glory of the Lord which now dwells within us and goes with us into the darkest valleys of the shadow of death? This makes all life holy. Could we not pray that we will be given eyes to see the glory now present in us. And in our neighbors, like the kids I am fretting about, ones we are to serve because in them, we meet the glory of the Lord.
HYMN INFO In the hymn for the gospel I wanted to get into verse what I have just written here. Amanda does a fine job of setting that to music. The second, the hymn on the Epistle, prays that Christ will show himself so all can see. After writing this meditation, I think I would change it to what I have above, not what is in the printed hymn.
LINKS--I have no recordings of these songs, but here are some recordings of the composers' music
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say/Amanda Husberg
Morning Star/Music b Carson Cooman
NB: Lent is only a week away. A wonderful Lenten discipline is reading the Passion hymns, one for every day of Lent. Follow the link to buy it and receive it in time.