Transfiguration Sunday Musings
"There is no such thing as a totally hopeless case. Our God is an expert at dealing with chaos, with brokenness, with all the worst that we can imagine. God created order out of disorder, cosmos out of chaos, and God can do so always, can do so now - in our personal lives and in our lives as nations, globally. The most unlikely person, the most improbable situation - these are all 'transfigurable' - they can be turned into their glorious opposites. Indeed, God is transforming the world now - through us - because God loves us." -Desmond TutuAs we look around us, it is not obvious that things have a chance of getting better. An optimist will look for signs of potential, readily claiming them and pushing them to the foreground, and they will quickly become a pessimist when those signs of potential disappear. But a realist will look at the situation with honesty... not with cynicism which fixes the present firmly and certainly to its past and cannot recognize a future, but with the dialectic realism which acknowledges reality not only in its perversion but sees also the provisionality of the present and takes seriously the possibility with which reality is filled. Realism does not ignore the devastation of the present but it also refuses to ignore the moments of serenity, majesty, justice, and profound renewal. Honesty cannot dismiss the moments which signal restoration - past and present - but must hold them up as a lens through which to see everything, just as suffering serves as a similar lens. Where the one exists the other is presupposed so that "Hope alone is to be called 'realistic'" (Jürgen Moltmann).
Where there is justice, injustice is presupposed. Where there is a feast, the hungry must be acknowledged with anticipation of their feasting. Where there is 'transfiguration,' the cross is assumed and where there is a cross, there is always hope for resurrection. Jürgen Moltmann has said, "if... the crucified Christ has a future because of his resurrection, then that means on the other hand that all statements and judgement about him must at once imply something about the future which is to be expected from him." Cross and resurrection are bound together so that when we see Christ on the cross, his identity as one with resurrection in his future is presupposed (even if provisionally as a promised future awaiting historical validation), and when we experience Christ in glory - in resurrection as well as in transfiguration - we see a crucified Christ, always at one with the experiences of the oppressed and the marginalized. Honesty embraces both sides of the dialectic. Hope knows well the anguish of the present and takes seriously the possibilities of the future signaled in transfiguration.
So today, on this Transfiguration Sunday, let us be 'realists' - filled with hope as we look upon our experience with honesty. As we engage the transfigured Christ, shining in glory with all the promises of the law and the prophets imposed upon him, let us humbly embrace the transfigurability of all that is around us - the struggle and the chaos. Let us see in the transfigured Christ, the crucified one. And let the one who hangs on the cross be the one who has resurrection in his future, affirmed by and identified with the healing promises of God's whole story.