The Collect for the Feast of the Transfiguration
O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
These days, Monday Matters offers reflections on the prayers we say in church on Sunday, the collect of the day. We do this based on the conviction that praying shapes our believing, that what we pray forms us. We do this hoping that the prayers we say on Sunday will carry us through the week.
Yesterday in church we observed the Feast of the Transfiguration. Many, if not most, of the feast days in the church calendar recognize a person. From time to time, we remember an event in Jesus’ life or in the lives of one of his followers. This year, August 6 fell on a Sunday, so in church we focused on this mysterious story of Jesus taking his best buddies up a mountain. (Read about it here: Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13, and/or Luke 9:28-36.) There they experience this remarkable event, with special effects that would make Steven Spielberg jealous. We know it’s an important event because we not only celebrate it in August. It also shows up each year at the end of the season of Epiphany, right before we transition into the season of Lent.
Have a look at the collect for this feast day, included above. The word that caught my attention was disquietude, a word I don’t think I’ve ever used in a sentence. I looked it up to find that the word suggests anxiety or agitation. I thought: Well, that’s a word that might prove useful in all that we face in our world these days. Whatever anxiety or agitation you feel, prompted by what you see on the news, or what you experience at work or at home, what do you think is the key to deliverance from disquietude, which is the focus of this prayer?
A scan of biblical stories indicates that mountaintop experiences are places where that kind of deliverance can come. Has that ever been your experience? Religious leaders from all kinds of traditions head for the hills to figure things out, to find wisdom. Moses climbed a mountain to have his encounter with the Holy One. When he was beset with disquietude, Elijah went to Mt. Horeb where the divine presence was revealed in a still small voice. Matthew tells us that Jesus gave his seminal teaching in a sermon on the mount. And for Peter, James and John, the mountaintop experience provided a chance to “behold the King in all his beauty.”
The revelation that came to those disciples on top of that mountain was indeed a gift, prompted by God’s gracious revelation. At the same time, they had a part to play. They had to climb the mountain. Whether or not they knew something would happen, they intentionally pulled away from routine making room for this encounter.
So here we are at the outset of August. For some, the summer months provide an interlude before all kinds of activities crank up in the fall. It can be a useful time for retreat, opening the way for deliverance from disquietude. Maybe you can find some kind of mountaintop experience this week or this month, a way to take the long view and gain some perspective.
That may take intentionality on your part. We can practice that kind of intentionality on small scale, a few minutes of quiet each morning. A walk in the park. A break from screen time. A stop by a local church for some kneeling prayer. Shavasana.
My guess is that we each know something about disquietude. Whatever your version of that state of mind, pray for deliverance. Pray for the vision to take the longer view, to see something of Jesus in his beauty. Pray for the help of Jesus who spoke to the storm and said, “Peace be still.” And know that your prayer can be offered not only with your lips but with your life. What might that look like as we move through this week?