SUNDAY, MARCH 6: Many Protestant denominations take an extra step toward Lent today, marking the last Sunday of the Epiphany season with the Transfiguration of Jesus. (Most other Christians mark the Feast in August. Wikipedia has details.) The date of Epiphany officially marks the revelation of Christ to the magi, and so the entire season of Epiphany is a type of extension of the post-Christmas holiday. By highlighting the Transfiguration on the last Sunday associated with Epiphany, Protestants move toward the Lenten season.
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported in the Gospels but still under much debate: Some believe when the Christian gospels say that Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah from a mountain, the reality was physical; others insist that the reality was supernatural. Religious leaders from various streams of Christianity also debate the meaning when Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, and even the exact location of the mountain. Many agree the Transfiguration occurred on Mount Tabor.
Today, as Protestants hear about this observance in their churches, though, it’s not likely they will hear much about such controversy over details. Rather, they’ll hear clergy focusing on the larger image of salvation Jesus revealed in the Transfiguration. (Get a reflective perspective from Preacher’s Magazine.) Once on top of the mountain, Jesus was called “Son” by a voice in the sky and suddenly became radiant; according to the Bible, the disciples were nearly dumbfounded with amazement. It’s an inspiring moment to lift up as Christians around the world enter Lent.