This Sunday we have the rare treat of the Transfiguration falling on a Sunday. Recalling Jesus' appearance on the mountain in great light and glory prior to his Passion, we hear the Gospel of the Transfiguration twice every year - on August 6 and on the Sunday before Lent. Transfiguration is also one of those special feasts of the prayer book that can replace a Sunday.
For the duration of the summer we have scheduled Night Prayer and Benediction on Sunday nights at 7:00 pm. This has given us the opportunity to sing the Daily Office once a week, and because our identity is Anglo-Catholic, having weekly Benediction is helping us live more fully into who we are as a parish. Musicians offer weekly support at this service, as does our acolyte corps. (Did you know that over 30 volunteers are scheduled for services at St. Mark's each Sunday when you add up the lectors, servers, and ushers?) In the future, some of the 7:00 pm services will be choral offerings.
There are certain feasts of the year when Benediction is particularly appropriate. Corpus Christi is obviously one such feast, and the Last Sunday after Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Christ the King, also comes to mind. Sunday's celebration of the Transfiguration is another example. When we adore the real presence of Christ in the Holy Sacrament, the imagery of the Transfiguration makes sense. Christ is enthroned in all of his glory; meanwhile we are like the disciples, dazed and confused that God would stoop so low to earth. If you have ever gazed upon an icon of the Transfiguration, you may have noticed how the disciples are confounded by the mountaintop experience. It is baffling and yet wonderful news, that God chooses to descend among us, and then love us.
Because the Transfiguration falls on a Sunday this summer, we will celebrate Evensong and Benediction of this feast at our 7:00 pm service. Jesus Christ in the Sacrament will shine with radiance, and we will get down on our knees to show respect and love for everything God has done for us. The first reading from Daniel at Sunday's evensong says it best.
As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousand served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgement, and the books were opened. As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.