Transfiguration: Seeing or Hearing?
It's simply gorgeous! I'm sitting on my back patio in the late afternoon sun of Santa Barbara. It's been in the 70's all day. Now I hear the chirping of birds as sun spills through the oak trees and makes shadows on the whitewashed walls. There are fifty shades of green all around me set off by terra cotta tiles and ceramic pots. I'm a visual person. Most of us are. We take great care with how our personal spaces are designed and arranged. Some people focus on their houses, others their gardens. Some have their one, special room: garage, study, work-room. Still others maintain their car as their one personal space. One good friend's only real space is his laptop screen, that he guards and designs with infinite care.
Since our teaching time at the Midwinter on altar-pieces, I've had a number of intriguing conversations with educated and thoughtful people who minimize space over sound. It's the Word; sung, read, spoken and shared that carries all the power, not the space. Religious space for them should be minimal, sparse and spare. The visual (except for video) is unnecessary, wasteful and distracting. It could be better employed in mission and ministry, not decoration and sight.
Maybe that's the residue from our Reformation based anti-catholicism. When I speak of robes and stoles, some of these friends instinctively flinch.
Maybe that's why the Transfiguration plays so poorly in the evangelical world (except for the command to "Listen to Him.") and so strongly in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox world.
What do you see? What role does your seeing play in your believing, obeying and faithfulness to Jesus? How does seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus help your faith? Do any visuals sustain your faith? Some time ago I blogged on the ever-presence of the cross in worship, as back-drops to most screen lyrics. Maybe our only visual is the cross. What does that say? Should we expand our visual repertoire beyond an empty cross?
What will you see this Sunday as you worship? Where will there be signs and signals of transfiguration? Look, listen.