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Sunday before Lent



A sonnet for today by Malcolm Guite.

For that one moment, ‘in and out of time’,
On that one mountain where all moments meet,
The daily veil that covers the sublime
In darkling glass fell dazzled at his feet.
There were no angels full of eyes and wings
Just living glory full of truth and grace.
The Love that dances at the heart of things
Shone out upon us from a human face
And to that light the light in us leaped up,
We felt it quicken somewhere deep within,
A sudden blaze of long-extinguished hope
Trembled and tingled through the tender skin.
Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar
Eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.

The gospel for this particular Sunday is always an account of the Transfiguration because it seems to show most clearly the contrast between glory and fulfilment. That ultimate mountain top moment in Jesus’ life that will occur after his resurrection and ascension, of which the Transfiguration is a foretaste of. And what awaits Jesus as he comes down the mountain and carries on his journey to Jerusalem and his impending death. As the Church stands on the threshold of Lent it is right that we should be preparing for it with prayerful reflection on the Transfiguration and discovering how you might response to this glorified picture of who Jesus is.

Your response is really important. That’s what the sonnet I read at the beginning is trying to say, “the love that dances at the heart of things
shone out upon us from a human face and to that light the light in us leaped up.” You may spend a lifetime discerning and figuring out what your response to Jesus is, but there will be a response, there will be something. And hopefully you will have a sense that your response is a positive one, one that is truly full of light, one that really does have an effect on your whole being. It is a response such as this that will enable you to share in the very life of Christ with passion, enthusiasm and determination. The very activity and ministry of any church, of any baptised member of the church, is an outworking of this response to Jesus’ glory in our midst. There is something deep within you that enables you to do all sorts of things in God’s name. You cannot do them under your own power or inclination; rather everyone has to rely on that spark, that light of God already in us.

So, you find that those around you can also do all sorts of things, surprising and unusual things for the church and its mission. There is willingness and a confidence to give something a go because ultimately it is not for the glory of the person concerned but for the glory of God. Jesus’ response to experiencing God’s glory was to come back down the mountain and walk to the cross. Sharing in the glory of God doesn’t mean that life in and out of the church is going to be easy. The sonnet says, “Nor can this blackened sky, this darkened scar eclipse that glimpse of how things really are.” The poet is referring to Good Friday, but there is a sense in which the little Good Fridays that are experienced throughout life are being mentioned as well. But to hold onto the glimpse of how things really are is the important thing, to remember that however difficult and challenging life is, you must continue with your attempts, in all that you do, to be faithful witnesses to God’s glory.

As you reflect on your place in God’s church give thanks today for the people who most clearly show something of God’s glory in their lives. That someone whose ministry is able to inspire and enable others in their journey of faith and ministry. That someone who is aware and shows in their life that being faithful in service to God is not always easy, but for all the difficulty and challenge they carry on. That someone who knows how to work with others, knowing that sharing the task is much the better way of revealing God’s glory to the world. The Transfiguration was a turning point for Jesus, I hope and pray that your reflection on his Transfiguration this Lent will be a turning point for you and for God’s church wherever you are.


  • How are you going to be a faithful witness to God’s glory as you journey through Lent and to the cross of Good Friday?
  • In whom do you see the glory of God?
Page last updated: Friday 18th February 2022 1:57 PM
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