This post, in addition to being a part of Rookie Anglican, is part of a series on the Collects of the Christian Year (ACNA), called “Collect Reflections.” If you’re just jumping in, make sure to check out the introductory post, “Announcing Collect Reflections.” All Collect Reflection posts can be found here.
The Last Sunday of Epiphany (Transfiguration)
O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain…
The word epiphany means manifestation, and it’s in this season that God’s glory is manifest in Jesus Christ.
We’ve already seen God’s glory manifest during this Epiphany season. Gods’ glory was manifested to the Magi. God’s glory was manifest in Jesus’ Baptism where the Trinity is revealed: God the Father speaks, God the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove, and, of course, God the Son is present in the water receiving baptism from his cousin John.
This last Sunday in Epiphany, the Sunday of the Transfiguration, is the crescendo of God’s glorious manifestation.
Again, like Jesus’ Baptism, the Trinity is revealed. God the Father speaks a similar message: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, but now the line is added, Listen to him (Matt. 17:5).
Again, God the Holy Spirit is revealed, not in the form of a dove, but in the same pillar of cloud that directed the Israelites through the wilderness in Exodus.
Finally, God the Son is manifest in his transfiguration where his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light (Matt. 17:2).
Grant that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance…
In Psalm 80:19 we cry out, “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” When God’s face shines, we receive our salvation, and we lay hold of that salvation by faith.
Where do we locate the face of God? In his gospel, St. John teaches us that God’s face has been manifest in Jesus Christ: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).
Finally, we read that upon the mountain, Jesus’ face shone like the sun. The glory of God is manifest in face of Jesus Christ!
We keep our gaze on Christ by always returning to his promise: the free forgiveness of sins found in Christ alone. This promise is given in Baptism, expounded through the preaching of the Word, and nurtured in the Eucharist.
Faith lays hold of the gospel promise. We are freed by faith to gaze upon the glory of our God – the face of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. From a lively faith flows the good works of loving and serving our neighbor. No longer are we bent inward looking to ourselves; rather, faith frees us to love and serve our neighbor.
…may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory
God’s glory is manifest in the face of Jesus Christ, and we behold him by faith. When we keep our gaze upon Jesus, we shall be changed from glory to glory.
How does this change happen? It’s through bearing our cross: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 16:24-25).
As we journey through this transitory life we will come up against people who hate us because they hate Christ in us. We don’t try to avoid the trial; we don’t beseech God to remove the trial. Rather, we ask God to strengthen us with his Holy Spirit that we may endure the trial — we take up our cross and follow Christ.
As you travel through this life bearing your cross, gaze upon the face of Christ, the face that shines like the sun. When you keep your eyes upon Jesus, you shall be changed from glory to glory.
Fr. Steven Lanclos is the vicar of Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Pelham, AL. A graduate of Beeson Divinity School, he is also a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve Chaplain Corps. He resides in Pelham, AL. with his wife and two sons. Fr. Steven blogs at Sarum Notes.