O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy 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 thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.
Yesterday, August 6, was the Feast of the Transfiguration. Praying the collect above, I was particularly taken by the phrase, “delivered from the disquietude of this world.” To be delivered from disquietude. This is an apt request for any age, driven as our race has always been: driven by desires for security, solace, and safety in a world that threatens us with destruction, decay, and death.
In our particular age our experience of disquietude is amplified by technology and super-sized by screens. Deliverance from the disquietude of this world, the chronic anxiety of our hyper-modern age, is a gift sorely needed. And this gift is singularly available by, with, and in fellowship with Jesus Christ, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Now notice the shape of this collect. Deliverance from disquietude is referenced as an accomplished fact, “being delivered from the disquietude of this world.” This fact is an act, an action, accomplished for us by someone else, God the Father. He accomplishes this act through Jesus, God the Son.
In the logic of the collect, being delivered from the disquietude of this world is a figure of speech for coming apart from the multitudes and masses for time in retreat and rest with Jesus. This was initially a gift given to only a few upon the holy mountain: Peter, James, and John. But it was a gift to the few for the purpose of being shared, in time, with the many.
Having seen Jesus transfigured in glory and conversing with Moses and Elijah, the three disciples were told “to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of man should have risen from the dead” (Mk. 9:9).
The reason for the delay is evident. There is a cross before the crown. Or, as we pray in the Morning Office on Fridays, “Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (BCP, 56).
The transfiguration is a foretaste of future glory: Jesus’ glory by nature, our glory by faith and grace. “O God . . . mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty.”
Beholding by faith the glorious beauty of our King, Jesus, we are transfigured, we are transformed, we “are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
The Lord hath manifested forth his glory: O come, let us adore him.