Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. – Matthew 17:1-2 (NRSV)
Transparent is a TV series about a parent who transitions from male to female. When Maura comes out, her vexed daughter wonders if “Dad” will spend the rest of life dressing up as a woman. Maura replies, “No. All my life, I’ve been dressing up like a man. This is me.”
It’s not uncommon for cisgender people (like me) to experience frustration and bewilderment when a loved one comes out as trans. “I thought I knew him! Have I lost her? Why didn’t they tell me sooner?” Ideally, we quickly remember this is not about us and find ways to celebrate our loved one’s courage to live more authentically.
What if Jesus’ transfiguration was a “coming out” moment? What if it was an opportunity for the disciples to see Jesus, not as changed and divinized, but as his authentic self?
When Jesus let his divinity out, Peter, James, and John might have wondered: “I thought we knew this guy. Have we lost him? Why didn’t he tell us sooner?” Hopefully, the disciples got over themselves and could celebrate the gift of experiencing Jesus in all his dazzling beauty. Perhaps they were more changed than Jesus.
Lent means transformation is in the air. Although we can’t know all the diverse experiences of all trans people, all of us are invited into the hard, glorious journey of the One who crosses all boundaries and binaries, who transfigures us into the persons God knew and saw all along.
God our divine Trans Parent, do your thing so we can do ours.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.