The story goes something like this. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up to the top of a mountain where he appears to be transfigured. Mark’s gospel describes that “his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.” We might say he glowed or was illuminated. Then Elijah and Moses appeared, talking to Jesus. The disciples are suitably terrified and a voice is heard from a cloud saying “this is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him.” On the way back down the mountain, Jesus tells them not to say anything about this until after he has risen from the dead.
Cool story with some great special effects and dazzling imagery. Anyone’s takeaway from it might be that clearly Jesus is something special, something divine, someone to whom we should listen, as the voice commands.
But hang on a minute. Do not stare directly at the light. Look at where it’s shining. See who’s really illuminated?
Here’s another story. So there’s the Grinch, all dressed like Santa Claus. He wants to stop Christmas from coming so he’s taken all the Christmas decorations and gifts and delicious treats from Whoville, loaded them on a sleigh and dragged them to the top of Mount Crumpit. Well, Max, the dog, did most of the dragging.
The Grinch stands there with poor Max, waiting for the Whos to discover Christmas is gone, waiting, so that he can hear all the Whos down in Whoville cry boo-hoo. But what he hears isn’t that at all, it’s the Whos singing, welcoming Christmas. It didn’t sound sad, but glad. And he realizes that maybe Christmas is more than all that stuff he took, maybe it’s something much more.
“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day! And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!” He brings everything back and celebrates with the Whos, even carving the roast beast. He lives into his new found enthusiasm for life.
Remember the classic Christmas cartoon version of that? How, when the Whos are singing, all holding hands in a circle, a radiant light seems to rise from them?
You know who’s who, right? The Whos are Jesus. You know what that makes us.
And why not? Like the disciples, we may not be green and grinchy - most of us, anyway - but there is, within us, a precious heart that may just be two sizes too small. Metaphorically, of course. In a moment of illumination, of enlightenment, elucidation, insight, even bedazzling, we can experience something more than learning.
Look at Jesus, listen to Jesus. But there is more there. There is something that connects deep in our hearts. It’s something life-changing, an empowering wisdom, an inspiring spirit that moves us beyond what we might feel inside. There is a light and a love that expands our hearts and moves us to see what is around us and engage it.
The story goes something like this. Jesus’ life is a living example of love at work in the world. What’s your story?