Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Since we are celebrating the Transfiguration today, let us dedicate this newsletter to this Festival.
Transfiguration is not just one of episodes of the sacred history. Transfiguration is an event of the same level as the incarnation of Christ, His crucifixion and resurrection. On the day of the Transfiguration, the Lord showed us the New Testament, even before it was established. The Lord revealed to us that the Kingdom of God is where He is, because He, Himself, is the Kingdom of God.
He revealed, that from now on, people can find God, not only in the Temple of Jerusalem (which, by the way, had to be destroyed in forty years, and Jesus knew it), but wherever the Eucharist is administered, the sacrament and mystery of the presence of God among His people.
Where the Eucharist is, there the Heavens meet the earth, the Heavens descend to the earth, and so it will continue “till the end of ages.”
That is why the ancients said that the liturgy is a visible presence of the Kingdom of God, the continuous Transfiguration.
Do you follow me? It is so simple, so understandable: in the church, after the word about Jesus, the main church sacrament follows, in which the Lord comes to us, and we lift up to Him:
“Lift up your hearts.” — “We lift them up to the Lord.”
So the Eucharistic liturgy begins. It is like we are climbing up a holy mountain, which was made accessible for us by God, Who became a Man.
We leave all our worldly worries and vanities at the bottom of this mountain, and go up, we lift up our hearts, where the Eucharist, where Christ and the angels, where there is no death and evil, but only the fellowship of saints, and the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life.
Here, in the church, the Heavens are among us, and we enter the cloud of God’s presence.
All this was so new and so incredible that the apostles were simply dumbfounded. And when they came back to their mind, Saint Peter said the first thing that occurred to him:
With this, Peter said to Jesus: Lord! it is good for us to be here; if You wish, we will make here three tents: To You one, and to Moses one, and one to Elijah. (Matthew 17:4)
You can laugh at these little childish emotions of Peter, but, probably, any of us would repeat Peter’s “it is good for us to be here.” After all, what can be better than to be where God is?
And the Lord, who often stopped too emotional Peter, and even scolded him for his overly human reactions, this time did not react to the exclamation of the apostle, thereby allowing him (and also me and you) to say the same thing:
“It is good for us to be here!” – isn’t it a wonderful and proper prayer?
It is good for us to be here, o Lord,
it is good for us to come to this place where You are dwelling among Your people,
it is good for us to listen Your words, and then to eat and to drink from Your holy supper,
it is good for us to be in Your presence,
where You give us the forgiveness of sins and the eternal life.
It is good for us to be in the church, on this Your holy mountain, because the whole previous week we dreamed how at Sunday we will come here. We are expecting how on the first day of new week, on the Day of the Lord, like the ancient Israelites, who with the singing of the Psalms rising to the Temple, and we will also make such an ascent — to the altar, into the God’s presence.
Please see the photos from Khakassia and the Parish of the Transfiguration of the Lord. And take a special look at the beautiful altar piece painted by Cara Zietz of the Lutheran church of Messiah in Kenosha.
And also we invite you to join our congratulations to Fr. Vitali (of the Parish of the Transfiguration), who turned fifty years old.