I haven’t read Jefferson’s Bible, but I’m pretty certain the Transfiguration doesn’t appear there, because it’s a miracle, one of many we encounter in the gospels. Singular, however, without any “healing.”
When I was a teenager in the ‘60’s, the Bedford Presbyterian Church dominated the Village Green in my town. They ran an afterschool program for teens in the church basement, known as “the Pit.” I decided to go to the Pit to see what the Bible was about, since I knew nothing about it, having never been taken to Sunday School or church. That particular day they were talking about the Transfiguration. I never returned, since I thought if they believed that, they must all be nuts.
I joined Trinity Presbyterian Church in 1980 so our son, Thomas, could be baptized. I joined the Young Mothers’ Circle, meeting monthly for Bible study. That year, Senior Circle members led our studies; one leader was a widow named Alice Magness. Alice, an Elder, was first woman Moderator of the Mid-Atlantic Synod. She recognized my infant faith as needing guidance, and took me under her wing. One day, I asked Alice, “Do you believe that the Transfiguration really happened? Just the way it’s written?” She looked at me directly, and replied in a single solemn word, “Yes.”
Her faith infused mine, and I believed, because Alice believed. I grew to love the vision of Christ’s garment, “glistering white,” as I chose my word from among the many translations. Yes, it really happened.
Just as the half-faith of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 became more than whole, inspiring an entire people to believe after she met Jesus, so mine met his transfigured form, the booths, the patriarchs, the whole 9-yards, in the zeal of my dear friend, Alice. Can yours?