How do you picture God? Most of us have some image of God that we keep in our heads. Many people have either Gandalf or the ghost of Christmas present from The Muppet Christmas Carol as their base image for God. Old. Beard. God.
Some people focus on Jesus, which, for many, is basically just a younger version of the old God image. Young. Beard. Jesus.
Still others focus on the Holy Spirit and have a cloud or fire or maybe the wind, which is like blue lines that represent a more mystical version of God. Mystical. No Beard. God.
In our Gospel this Sunday, Peter, James, and John get to see God. They witness Jesus transfigured before them. In other words, they see Jesus as he really is – God made man. What does God look like? Dazzling white. (no mention of beard).
But there is one other thing they say about the moment. When they see God they can barely speak because they are terrified. Terrified is a pretty strong response. This piece of scripture doesn’t say they were upset or amazed or found God interesting. No, their response to seeing God in his glory was to be terrified. No one is terrified of jovial old-man-beard God or blue-line-wind-spirit God.
No matter what we hold in our mind’s eye as our image of God, I bet he is a nice God. Because God is love and generous and good, we tend to also make him tame. Unfortunately this also makes God simple and maybe even strips him of some of his power.
As we read this Sunday, that image of a nice, tame, weak God is wrong. No, God is terrifying. God is scary like a good rollercoaster or like falling in love. God is the kind of terrifying that is terrific, not horrifying. To meet God face to face is thrilling.
If this is God, then the question for us is – Have you ever been terrified, thrilled, or overwhelmed in God’s presence? If meeting God is the kind of experience that leaves us speechless and trembling, have we ever experienced God in this way?
This Lent and Easter is an opportunity to experience this God, the God that thrills us and terrifies us. All we must do is follow the example of the disciples and say yes to walking up the mountain with Jesus. Our faith lives will change for good when we meet God face to face.
Make a plan to visit an Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. If you’ve never done that before, there is no wrong way. Just go and focus on Jesus. Tell him you want to see his face.