Skip to content

The Transfiguration of our Lord

Clouds covering the top of Mount Tabor in Israel

Sunday 6 August
Year A: 9th Sunday after Trinity (Proper 13)
Liturgical Colour: Gold or White


  • Daniel 7:9-12
  • Psalm 97:1-12
  • 2 Peter 1:16-19
  • Luke 9:28-36


This year the Transfiguration of our Lord falls on a Sunday. Some churches that follow the lectionary might move it to Monday so that the flow of Year A readings isn’t interrupted. However, many will celebrate it today. Of course, some churches don’t follow the lectionary at all, but if it is your tradition, please note the change of liturgical colour.

The Transfiguration reading recounts the journey of Jesus, along with Peter, James and John, to a mountain top; according to tradition, Mount Tabor. They were going there to pray, and as they did so the appearance of Jesus’ face changed and his clothes became a dazzling white. Then the apostles saw two men appear who they recognised as Moses and Elijah. Peter wanted to make three shelters, one each for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. He was perhaps making connections with the Jewish Festival of Booths / Sukkot. However, events moved too quickly and they were overshadowed by a cloud and heard a voice from heaven saying ‘This is my Son, my Chosen’.

The passage is often presented as confirmation of Jesus as fulfilment of the law and the prophets, as represented by Moses and Elijah. Also, of his divinity, as he reflects the Glory of God and receives his Father’s commendation.

In that moment on the mountain top, Peter, James and John were given a glimpse of the divine. And in that presence, reality was transfigured. The world appeared differently, and so did the people in it


Have you ever had a ‘mountain top experience’ like Peter, James and John, where time has seemed to stand still and you have recognised some kind of divine presence? I had one about 30 years ago. It was the moment I became a failed atheist. (And I was a very good atheist!) That occasion was a bit dramatic and yet ordinary at the same time; just full of love, joy and peace. All I did was open myself to the possibility of God. (My exact words were: ‘I don’t believe in you but if you do exist I would quite like to get to know you’ – thank goodness God is gracious!) It changed my life. I was almost completely ignorant about Christianity at the time, but I vividly remember how the world suddenly seemed brighter and more colourful, and how on the way home I went out of my way to be kind to a woman I would have normally crossed the road to avoid!

It was a big moment for me, but I don’t think experiences like that are at all uncommon. I have had some ‘mini versions’ since. Indeed, I believe that God’s glory can be glimpsed almost every day, if we have eyes to see and ears to listen.

We use the term ‘face lights up’ to describe how people are changed, literally transfigured, when someone they love enters the room, and they radiate peace and joy. And so it is with us, when we draw close to God and experience afresh the presence of His love, joy and peace.

So What?

It strikes me that we can be very reluctant to speak about our experiences of God. Perhaps we are worried that we will be seen as a bit strange or ‘off message’. Certainly, we need to be careful to discern whether what we have experienced is of God before acting on it. There are too many examples of people who have said they have heard God telling them to do something that has turned out to be wicked. But what better way to check our experience out than to talk with others about it. Obviously, the Transfiguration of our Lord is in a different category all together, but I have a sneaking suspicion that there are a lot more minor moments when the divine presence breaks through than we realise. What is your experience?

Finally, as Focal Ministry begins to become embedded in the everyday life of our churches, I am absolutely convinced that increased public presence and having the doors open more regularly will result in people coming to us in search of meaning and some sort of experience of God. Let us make sure we are open to the love, joy and peace of God ourselves, so that they might see it reflected in us, and therefore feel encouraged and enabled to open themselves to receiving the light of Christ too.