Transfiguration Sunday yr A, 2023 This week I spent some time reflecting on the word transfiguration… How is it different then transformation, or transubstantiation, how is the suffix- trans used in reference to gender…where do transformers come in to play or the transubstantiation vs consubstantiation of the Eucharist. All of which tells you that in many ways…I don’t get out much! But really.  Why do we celebrate the transfiguration?  And what is the relevance for us, today. One of the results of the Transfiguration was that it allowed those who witnessed it the opportunity to see Christ’s divine nature.  To experience a revelation, to see Christ revealed as more then he appeared.  The transfiguration of Christ allowed the disciples to see Christ as he truly was, and is, and will always be.  The eternal Messiah and God incarnate.  To see Christ’s inner nature. But how does this translate to daily life? Do we ever get the chance to climb the mountain with Christ and see him revealed in all his glory?  I’d say yes, but perhaps not in ways that you’d anticipate. A transfiguration is a revealing of the essential nature of something or someone which can in turn can change how we view that thing or person or how people view us. One area in which we, as a church, seek to be transfigured is our understanding and view of indigenous peoples.  It is a process that has been a long time coming and will take a long time to come to completion, but each step is a transfiguration in itself.   We have begun to learn that the appalling fact is that if you look indiginous you have been, at some time or other, treated like dirt.  If you talk to someone who is Indigenous, they will tell stories of how poorly and how stereotypically the have been portrayed, how badly people have treated them and the erroneous assumptions people have made about them…and if not them, a family member or friend.  As for women and girls, the absence of thousands of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women speaks of how little society cares for them.  A point that is becoming increasingly challenged as we read of and witness protests to search the landfills for children of God who have been literally treated as garbage. Yet, we know, as a Christian people that Christ is reflected in each of us.  That Christ looks at us out of the eyes of each person we meet.  Including men like Faron Hall, whose story we may have forgotten, yet who was, for a time was transfigured in eyes of the city. Allow me to remind you of his story. Faron Hall was, for many who passed him by, just another drunk by the river, without a name and without a story.  Born on the reserve, taken by Children’s aid at 3 and denied family ties, Faron made the best of a bad situation.  He went to school, aspired to be a teacher, made friends, visited family when he could and got involved in sports. But when tragedy struck his family, he began to spiral down into depression and drinking…his mother died, his sister was murdered and Faron moved to the city to get away from it all.  Soon, he became homeless, with little console or help him Faron sank further into the bottle. For those who passed him by, not knowing his story or caring to find out, Faron became viewed as just one more danger to those who walked past him.  His appearance providing all the information anyone wanted from him.  Yet, soon many would see him transfigured before their very eyes. I wonder if the name has rung bells in your minds because Faron Hall would soon be known as Winnipeg’s Homeless Hero.  This troubled man in the space of 4 months dived into the Red River to rescue two people who had fallen into the Red River. Something Faron didn’t believe was worthy of note because ‘if somebody fell in the river and you were a good swimmer, you go in and pull them out.’ A perfectly human response. Yet, it seemed exceptional because for so many in Winnipeg, people like Faron were, unappreciated at best. However, after these rescues Faron was awarded the Mayor’s Medal of Valor, two commendations from the Royal Lifesaving Society and had a nation fund for the homeless set up in his name. The way that people saw Faron Hall was transfigured and people had the opportunity to get a glimpse of who he truly was…not simply another drunk, but a man of integrity, bravery and compassion.  A revelation that cut through the stereotypes… to show God’s grace within him. Faron Hall received awards, medals, recognition and financial rewards, it was like being on the mountain top, this extraordinarily generous human act transfigured Faron in the eyes of the city and the city set up booths and press conferences to keep him there.       And surely God was well pleased that we could finally see past the stereotypes pushed onto Faron to the kind, generous and humble man that reflected Christ before us. Yet, just as Christ came down from the mountain, so too did Faron.  The transfiguration experience in our reading today ended with the chosen disciples coming down the mountain and keeping silent about what they had seen.  What we find out though, is that in time the disciples realized that they were transfigured by this experience as much as Christ was. In Faron’s case, as well, the experience of this transfiguration experience was quickly silenced.  Instead of remembering the truth revealed about Faron the news published all his failings and lost faith in who he truly was, instead focusing on his brokenness.  When he was in need of healing, we shamed him instead. In May 2009, Faron was transfigured in the public eye and seen as the man he truly was, generous and compassionate.   By August 2014 Faron had come down the mountain, people had forgotten the mountain top experience, lost faith in his potential, and after Faron’s father died… Faron now an orphan… was found downed in the very river he had saved others from. A tragedy that should not be forgot or silenced. Christ’s transfiguration not only allowed the disciples a glimpse of who Christ really was, but allowed them the opportunity see themselves in different light as well.   To realize… that Christ’s transfiguration was facilitating their own transfiguration.  The disciples were given a chance to see how Christ is to be reflected in themselves.  We are all called up the mountain to see Christ Transfigured, but we are also called down from the mountain top for a purpose.  So that the transfiguration of Christ can transfigure our own lives.  We are privileged to see Christ reflected in the lives of people like Faron Hall, not so that we can exult them as mountain top exceptions, and then forget them. Rather, so that we can see Christ reflected in our neighbours and have our own lives and perceptions transfigured through them, so we can reflect Christ more truly in all his many facets.  So that we can see past the stereotypes that culture and church has set up of people, and see people like Faron as who they really are, brothers and sisters of Christ with us. We as the church and we as individuals are beginning to learn, beginning to be transfigured by our education and encounters.  So, things are beginning to change.  God be thanked and us being willing, they will continue to change for the better. The Transfiguration was a turning point in the disciple’s journey with Christ… it was a chance to move from the words …I believe you are the Son of God…to the experience I see you are the Son of God and then to the opportunity to live out life transfigured as one who acts out their faith in the Son of God. As people who see the transfigured Christ changing their perceptions of those around them, as people who experience Christ in those whom they meet we too need to act our faith as people who are transfigured. In the transfiguration we experience Christ revealed in those around us and in ourselves, we need to believe that this experience is transformative, transfiguring…not only revealing our true nature, but allowing us to act on it and change how we talk, how we act, how we live. Christ is manifest in each of us, no matter how we appear on the outside and when we have faith, even faith the size of a mere mustard seed we can see it. Each of us here has to allow ourselves to be transfigured, to see Christ transfiguring the world around us.  So that we can transform our church, our city, our lives into ones that reflect Christ in all we say and do. So that each person, born of God, each child of the Creator and heir with Christ can realize their potential, can be likewise transfigured and we as a community can see Christ’s glory reflected in all those around us. amen