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Visio Divina for 3/20/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 1 (Listening)

LISTENING

Read the text below, preferably aloud. As you hear the word, “listen with the ear of your heart” for a word or short phrase that God has for you this day.

 

Mark 9:2-8 

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.     

COMMENTS

In reading and listening with “the ears of my heart” to the passage from Mark’s Gospel, I am aware that so many words and phrases are full of meaning. It is difficult to choose one, but then again, I am not the one doing the choosing here, God is. Not too long ago when I reflected on this reading, the word “terrified” stood out to me. I identified with Peter, being so afraid in situations that I would depend on my own thoughts rather than listening for God’s direction. Peter always seemed to be blurting out, often missing the mark. When he did get it right, like when he confessed that Jesus was the Christ, it was because he was listening to the “ears of his heart” with faith to what the Father revealed to him. Then Peter got it amazingly right. 

This time when I read this scripture, “terrified” did not jump out at me. Does that mean that I am terrified no longer? Or that instead of blurting out and going forward with what I think I should do, I am listening to the Beloved Son? I can only hope.

Thankfully, today, I am not terrified. Instead, the word that I have been given in this first step of divine reading is “overshadowed.” It says, “Then a cloud overshadowed them.” The word “overshadowed” makes me think of the time when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that the “power of the Most High will overshadow you.” (Luke 1:35) The presence of God enveloped Mary in a unique and powerful way to bring forth God’s Beloved Son, Jesus. Although the presence of God in her womb guided her actions in the coming months and made her feel honored, we are told that she pondered these things in her heart. This suggests that she questioned the uncertain and often painful direction her life was going. I imagine at times during her pregnancy and in the years following, Mary clung to the words of the angel, to redirect her gaze to her beloved son.

Looking back to the Old Testament, we read that the cloud of God’s presence also overshadowed the freed Hebrews in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:10) They were used to hard labor and cruel treatment under the Egyptians, but they did have a home, food, and water. In Egypt, they knew what they were supposed to do. Now in the wilderness, although they were freed, they could not do what they normally did. Because they were tempted to look back to Egypt, God appeared in a cloud to overshadow them with his presence.It served to remind them that the divine was in their midst as well as to assure them of God’s unerring guidance.

What does it mean to me to be overshadowed by God’s presence?

-Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Visio Divina for 3/21/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 2 (Meditating)

MEDITATING

Ruminate on the word you were drawn to in yesterday’s scripture passage (Mark 9:2-8). What does the word or phrase you have chosen mean to you today?

 

COMMENTS

Some years ago I was driving home one early spring evening. Everything, the roads, the trees, the distinguishing features which normally told me when to turn and when to go straight, was blanketed with a dense fog. It was frightening in two respects. First of all, the fog/cloud was frightening in itself. Second, it was disconcerting not being able to depend on what I would normally do. It was only with the use of the fog lights on the car that I could inch forward through the fog. To me, this is what the cloud was like that overshadowed Peter, James, and John. Because I could not see through the fog with my own eyes, I had to rely on the lights on my car. In the same way, the disciples could not do what they would normally do; they were not to build the customary dwellings associated with the Festival of Booths for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Instead, they had to rely on the voice from the cloud, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” I imagine that for the disciples, God’s presence in the cloud may have been just as disconcerting as seeing Jesus transfigured before their eyes. God’s commanding voice cleared away the disciples preconceived notions and redirected their gaze to see only Jesus.

Today as I meditate on this word  I am invited to come away with Jesus to a place apart, to be overshadowed by the presence of God. In the overshadowing and in God’s voice,  I am reminded that Jesus is the Beloved Son of God and that I need to listen to him! Normally, I would fill my time with Jesus with reading scripture, praying or doing all of the talking without really letting God have time to talk to me. When the time was up, I would be off and running. Being overshadowed by God’s presence speaks more of letting God do the talking and me being quiet and listening so that I can look to Jesus for what is to come. That may mean entering into the suffering of another, just as the disciples were soon to enter into Jesus’ suffering and death. By being quiet in God’s presence and listening, I might be a bit more prepared for what is to come. Along with that, I must not forget the glimpse of glory that Jesus gives in himself, that suffering is transformed into glory.

-Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Visio Divina for 3/22/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 3 (Seeing)

SEEING

Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination below. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see. Be open to images, thoughts, impressions, and feelings that come into your awareness.

COMMENTS

In looking at the illumination, “The Transfiguration”, it is apparent that Elijah and Moses, and the disciples (eventhough they are not included in this sacred art) are in the presence of God. The figures are not overshadowed in the cloud but the artist makes it obvious that God the Father is present. Jesus is surrounded by gold and God’s words are at Jesus’ feet, but God, the Beloved Son is also present. Jesus’ appearance is tranformed; his garments are barely visible. Instead his robes are dazzlingly white, covered with what could be sparkling stars. Looking closer, I see they are not stars, but crosses, reminding me of Jesus’ destiny. Jesus’ face is also bright white. It is hard to make out his features, except for the eyes. 

What is the expression of Jesus’ eyes? I remind myself that in visio divina I need to gaze at the illumination, take it in my hands and see with the eyes of faith. It seems to me that Jesus is acknowledging that he is God’s Son; he does not deny his glorified state portrayed by his garment and the golden cross framing his face.  One guesses that Moses is speaking to Jesus of the new Exodus, the freedom from bondage that Jesus the Deliverer will bring. Elijah, too, looks forward to when Jesus will join them in the heavens with God. I would think that the look in Jesus’ eyes would be one of triumph, but it is not. It is a sober one. 

What thoughts are reflected in Jesus’ eyes? I am reminded that the event of the Transfiguration happens shortly before Jesus’ Passion. Jesus must go through horrendous suffering and a humiliating death before being glorified. Because these thoughts of suffering cannot be passed over in light of Jesus’ glory, the Father commands the disciples to listen to Jesus. As they go down the mountain, away from this amazing time with God’s Beloved Son, Jesus conveys what he has been thinking. He commands them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead (Mark 9:9). 

Although I take in the glory of Jesus’ transfigured body, I am not able to take my eyes from his. I must go with him down the mountain to enter into his Passion. It is not Easter until after his suffering and death.

-Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Visio Divina for 3/23/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 4 (Seeing – Continued)

SEEING (continued)

Return to God’s word for the purpose of “hearing and seeing” Christ in the text. Fix your gaze on the illumination below. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart and enable you to see what God wants you to see. Be open to images, thoughts, impressions, and feelings that come into your awareness.

 

COMMENTS

 Years ago I gazed at another piece of what could be called sacred art, a  movie called “Jesus of Nazareth.” At that time, I fully entered into Jesus’ Passion, feeling every lash of the whip, every strike of the hammer on his tortured body. I remember, as if it were just yesterday, sobbing for the pain he endured out of love for me. In the years since, I have to admit that I do not always allow myself to experience Jesus’ Passion. Sometimes I let the busyness of life overshadow me, clouding my vision of what I see here in Jesus’ eyes. 

 From experience I know that God doesn’t interfere with that busyness. He lets me go on my way. But I also know from experience that if tell God that I want to go with Jesus through his suffering and to know his love in a deeper way, God is faithful to give me that experience. In his love, he forgives me for succumbing to busyness, for evading the look in Jesus’ eyes. Then God transforms my life to sprarkle like the crosses on Jesus’ garment. 

This day Lord, I want to look deeply into Jesus’ eyes, to be overshadowed with the presence of his love. I want to enter into his Passion, and not to turn away. Though it is painful, the glimpse of glory I see in this illumination, gives me courage and hope.  

 

-Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Visio Divina for 3/24/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 5 (Praying)

PRAYING

Pray to God, allowing for the transformation of your being and feelings. Give to God what you have found in your heart.

  

COMMENTS

In reading and seeing “The Transfiguration”, by gazing into Jesus’ eyes, I have remembered a desire to enter into Jesus’ Passion. I want to be overshadowed by the presence of God, even if it is painful, in order to be transformed. And so I pray…

Dear God,

I praise you for being a god who reaches out to what you have created. Out of deepest love, you take on our suffering. You did not have to do this; you could have remained in this glorious state. Instead you stripped off the sparkling robe of eternity and came as a humble servant to die for our sins. You did not turn your eyes away from the painful task ahead of you. You endured the cross for our sake. It was only then, after death and resurrection, that you assumed your glory once more.

Lord, I ask forgiveness for the times past, even today, when I turned my eyes away from yours and ignored what you did for me, for all. Please pardon my giving in to busyness or whatever else I put in my way. I thank you for your mercy and grace to begin again, walking with you. Please put on my path those whose suffering I can take on, in some way. Let me not be ashamed and turn my eyes away. Nudge me to share with them the love through suffering that you showed us and to tell your story.  This holy season, overshadow me with the love of the cross  so deeply that I am transformed to sparkle with the hope of your glory. I love you, Jesus, for loving me and for not turning your eyes away from the cross. Amen.

   

-Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Visio Divina for 3/25/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 6 (Contemplating)

CONTEMPLATING

  Notice the transforming presence of God within you. Let go of words and images. Surrender all that is stirring, even if only briefly, and rest for a few minutes in God’s embrace.

 

 COMMENTS

I have been trying to think of an image that will help me to contemplate or rest in God’s embrace. Taylor is right; it is difficult to still your mind and just rest. When I was a first time mother, I remember holding my infant daughter in my arms. For long moments I simply held her, gazing with an overwhelminly powerful love at this precious one. So dependent she was on my care! I watched her tiny chest breathing and her heart beating. I brushed kisses upon her brow, her little fingers. If she was awake, she would gaze back at me. Sometimes she would reach out to touch my face, just being content to be held.

Those times were but moments. She would begin to wriggle, to want to be fed or changed. I had chores to do, other needs to be seen. They were indeed precious moments.

With this image in mind, God, I am your child, your precious one. I come, and for this moment, rest contentedly in your arms. Let me gaze into your eyes and receive the love that pours from them. Let me reach out with love to you. Let us overshadow each other with love.

-Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Visio Divina for 3/26/11 – “The Transfiguration” – Day 7 (Becoming Christ-like)

BECOMING CHRIST-LIKE

Return to God’s word. Allow it to transform you. Notice how your faith is being deepened and your way of life motivated.

 

COMMENTS

 When I go back to God’s word, I realize that I have come through a process. I have been changed in some small way. It has not been earthshaking, but a deepening of faith. Will I be able to hang on to it? I think I will if I put it into action. So what does this mean? If I have been overshadowed with the presence of God and God’s Beloved Son and I am convinced that I need to enter into Jesus’ Passion, what does must I do? I have asked for the opportunity to share in someone’s suffering and to offer encouragement. I have said that I want to be transformed. I believe that God is faithful, so now what?

I think the last part of the reading gives me the clue: “Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.” When I look around, I see many faces, but if this word is true, I see only Jesus. That means my daughter is Jesus; my neighbor is Jesus. If she or he is Jesus, I need to listen and join them in their journey to their cross. I must not turn my eyes away, but stay the course and through the suffering, offer them hope.

 It means that this week I will go learn about an illness so that I can understand the one who is ill. I will listen while women voice their pain at the closed door of the priesthood. I will do visio divina with others, listening to hints of suffering and offering glimpses of hope.

 A thought just occurred to me…I am also Jesus. God will continue to overshadow me with his love by sending others to walk with me and encourage me, too.

 -Kathy Janku

© The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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March 9, 2012 – Seeing the Cross – 3rd Friday of Lent

Chase Becker, graduate assistant for Seeing The Word, meditates on the crosses found in The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8)

Join us every Friday this Lent as we continue to look closer at some of the crosses of The Saint John’s Bible, journeying from the Birth of Christ, to the Crucifixion.

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Illuminating Christ: The Transfiguration

Transfiguration cropped

Witnessing the transfiguration of Christ must have been an absolutely amazing moment. But soon after, Peter, James and John had to come down from the mountain. After this incredible experience, the apostles had to go back to their “ordinary” lives. But what does “ordinary” mean? Even when we return to the routine, our lives as disciples of Christ are never really ordinary.

There are precious moments during our days when we encounter the divine — our “mountaintop moments.” Maybe yours comes in the Eucharist. Maybe it comes on a retreat. Maybe the beauty of the divine hits you as you gaze at the sun setting over the lake or listen to friends share a story. These are our moments to see the dazzling white of Christ. These are our moments of transformation.

Experiencing the divine should motivate us to live differently. We may follow routines, but as Christians, we are called to be inspired; to be joyful; to serve others; to love wholeheartedly.

There is nothing ordinary about that.

Join Seeing the Word this Lenten season as we take a prayerful look into the ministry of Jesus Christ through the lens of The Saint John’s Bible. The weekly posts will feature either a prayer or reflection paired with an illumination. All content was written by Jessie Bazan, M.Div. candidate.

Illumination: © Donald Jackson, 2002 The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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Illuminating Lent: The Transfiguration

February 21, 2016 – February 27, 2016 

Transfiguration

The Transfiguration, Donald Jackson in collaboration with Aidan Hart, 2002. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

WEEK TWO•DAY ONE

Reading
Mark 9: 2-8Mark Transfiguration

What word stands out to you?

 

WEEK TWO•DAY TWO

Listening

As Christians, we are reminded to see God at work in the common occurrences of our lives, in the everyday encounters that we have. We see Christ in the words of encouragement that we might offer or receive, through helping to ease a hurt or assuage fear in the heart of friend, and in the face of the person to whom we have reached out in love and compassion. In Mark’s account of the Transfiguration, however, we are told that Jesus takes his three disciples to a place that is extraordinary: “up a high mountain apart, by themselves.” God reveals something extraordinary to Peter, James, and John in a place quite removed from the ordinary and every day.

Traditionally, the Mount of Transfiguration is held to be Mount Tabor in Galilee. The lone mountain rising from the rolling hills is striking in its solitary grandeur. Climbing to the top of Mount Tabor is not an easy task. It is while they are resting at the summit that this miraculous event happens. Despite being related in the third-person, Jesus’ Transfiguration is meant to be shared with us as an eye-witness account. We become witnesses, also, of this revelation of Christ’s divine nature and the culmination of Law and Prophecy that he represents.

As a participant in this story now, by extension through narrative, I find myself wanting to experience it in deeper ways. What is that place apart, by myself, to which I can retreat and be prepared to encounter Jesus in an extraordinary way?

 

WEEK TWO•DAY THREE

Meditating

I find it difficult to find a quiet place, set apart, where I can be alone with God. So much in our lives works against this simple desire of more intimate communion with Christ. The omnipresence of digital media creates an atmosphere in which it is well-nigh impossible to be alone. When we add the busy schedules of our children, the demands of our professions, and the burdens we place upon ourselves to the cyber-word, we realize the difficulties that exist in answering Jesus’ simple call to come to be alone with him. I feel a longing in my heart when I think of the three disciples being with Jesus at the top of the mountain.

I suspect that Peter, James, and John responded to that same longing, glad to be alone with Jesus and awe-struck with the Transfiguration. This is why Peter suggested erecting three tents, to connect the Transfiguration with a place, a place to which they could return for rest and comfort. The story does not record the building of dwellings, nor does scripture recount a return to the Mount of Transfiguration. An essential part of pilgrimage is to know that there is no standing still, only the next stop along the way. Jesus invites us to that next place where he reveals himself to us in new ways. Movement, not stasis, is the essence of pilgrimage.

Part of my pilgrimage of Lent is to set aside all that prevents me from being alone with Jesus and to listen to his invitation to come apart to a separate place.

 

WEEK TWO•DAY FOUR

Seeing

Jesus’ face attracts my attention immediately in this illumination. It is not the iconic representation of a bearded rabbi with which we are familiar. Rather, this face is something new, something unexpected, something transfigured. There is an energy and freshness to this vision of Christ that is at the same time powerfully attractive and yet strange. Christ’s face is full of humanity; I’m able to see myself in him. While Jesus’ garments, shimmering with dazzling brightness, reveal the essence of a transformed reality, his face reminds me that he is both fully God and fully human. He is part of the world that I inhabit.

Moses and Elijah are depicted very differently, in the Eastern iconographic style—a representation that is rooted in tradition. They, themselves, are not changed. Their transfiguration comes by virtue of being united and fulfilled in Christ. Transformation and redemption are to be found in the “Son, the Beloved”, not in the Law or the Prophets alone.

It is important that Jesus’ feet are not seen in this illumination. He inhabits a place between the earth, upon which Moses and Elijah stand, and heaven, the swirling blue reminiscent of the first day of the Creation illumination. In Christ, we find God’s power to transform our lives on earth. The world needs to know the power of God’s love. I need the transfiguring love of Jesus in my life. To acknowledge that need, that desire, is to begin truly to listen to the voice of Jesus.

 

WEEK TWO•DAY FIVE

Prayer

O God, you are always ready to hear the voice of our prayers.
Our world is full of violence and hatred; nation against nation,

people against people, belief against belief.

We seek your transforming love to be made manifest

in the midst of the terrible suffering of multitudes.

In our lives we experience fear, loneliness, anxiety, illness, and grief.
Hear the voices of our hearts that seek your loving presence

in a way that transfigures our daily lives.

There is beauty all around us in the world;

our families, our friends, your creation, the joys of work and play.

Help us not to be so overcome with adversity that we fail to see

the blessings in our lives that your love creates.

Too often, in the midst of our busy lives, we fail to notice the faces that surround us.
Give us wisdom not to lose sight of the face of your Son,

in whom we see your glory, the dazzling light that shines in the darkness.

Be with us, in a place set apart, so that we might listen to your voice

and follow the paths of love and service to which you call us.

 

 

WEEK TWO•DAY SIX

Contemplating

I love my children. I express that love in many ways. I want what is best for them. I want them not to be satisfied with the way things are, but to always be looking for ways to change the world for the better. Change, after all, is an essential and natural part of life. The old saying is true: When we stop changing, we die.

God loves us. We are described in Scripture as “children of God”. In the beginning, God created us to live in perfect harmony with the world and in full communion with him. God wants what is best for us. Part of that divine desire is for us to actively seek ways to change the world around us and to allow God to change us.

This illumination of the Transfiguration and the scripture that inspires it contain a deep message of change. Moses and Elijah are changed in relation to the Messiah. Jesus is changed in the sight of the disciples. Peter, James, and John are changed in their understanding of their Lord and, therefore, their understanding of themselves.

Part of human nature is to dislike change. The three Apostles attempt to forestall transformation by enshrining the Transfiguration, much like we in the church can avert change through an unhealthy attachment to the institution, rather than to Christ.

We know that God is love. God’s love, in Christ, is dramatically projected in this vision of Transfiguration and is the catalyst by which we are changed. May we so embrace God’s love that we accept the transformation of our lives that God wills.

 

WEEK TWO•DAY SEVEN

Becoming Christ-like

One of the most tragic aspects of human civilization is its emphasis on “winners” and “losers.” This stratification can be seen at all levels of society. Children learn this dichotomy between haves and have-nots through the awarding of trophies. While it is true that not every team can win, the emphasis on trophies, rather than on the fulfillment of the game, inculcates an understanding that worth is based upon attainment. The truth of our ultimate worth as beloved of God is obscured.

In the Transfiguration, Jesus’ humanity is shown to be but a part of his true nature: fully human and also fully divine. The brilliance of God’s love overwhelms the earthly manifestations of the incarnation of the Son.

We are not of a dual nature, like Christ. Jesus, nonetheless, dwells within us and the Holy Spirit fills our lives with the fire of God’s love. We, too, have within us the potential for transfiguration, not out of our own power, but through God’s grace. To become more Christ-like, then, is to seek the transfiguring love of God in our lives. Such seeking cannot be merely symbolic, either; it must be practical.

To live in hope of transfiguration is to be purposeful about rejecting the stratification taught by the world around us. There are no trophies for the best or brightest in the kingdom; all persons receive the crown of life. Regardless of any division we could imagine, all persons are equal in God’s eyes. All persons receive God’s love in full measure.

Through the sharing of the narrative of the Transfiguration, is not only Peter, James, and John who are witnesses to this miracle. We are all now part of the story.

 


The Reverend Mark Goodman, a native of Oklahoma, is Dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has served congregations in Ohio, South Carolina, and New Mexico. Before ordination, Mark received degrees in botany, and still maintains an interest in that science. He is a Fellow of Sinai and Synapses, an organization whose work is the deepening of the conversation between science and faith. He is married, with two children, and he enjoys cooking, reading, travelling with his family, and taking long walks with his dog, Jeeves.