Yesterday I preached on Jesus’ transfiguration at Three Chopt Presbyterian Church here in Richmond. My focus was on the relationship between Peter’s doctrinal confession at Caesarea Philippi and his experience of Jesus’ transfiguration soon thereafter. (Contrasting doctrine and experience is definitely one of my current themes.)
In a sermon several years ago I talked about Peter’s impulse to create a shrine after his experience as analogous to institutional religion. This wasn’t really my focus yesterday, but it was certainly in the back of my mind.
At the beginning of the worship service Three Chopt’s associate pastor showed an interesting video on transfiguration from The Work of the People. Part of it compared Peter’s desire to mark this remarkable occasion with our tendency to market the good things we experience, which draws us away from living in the moment of the experience.
Perhaps it was because I had snapped an Instagram photo of the church’s beautiful stained glass window before the service began, but it occurred to me that our cultural habit of taking pictures and selfies of both mundane and momentous occasions reflects the same tension between living in the moment and marking special occasions. Does our desire to capture and share images prevent us from fully experiencing life? Or in this cultural moment do these activities actually contribute to our experiences in the moment and as time goes by?
I’m sure other folks have made this connection already. But next time I preach or teach about Peter’s response to the transfiguration, I’ll keep this contemporary analogy in mind.