On this day, the last Sunday before Lent, many Christian churches observe the Feast of the Transfiguration, or “Transfiguration Sunday,” calling to remembrance the story in the Gospels when Jesus revealed to his chosen disciples his glorious nature as a spiritual being of light.
As the story goes, “Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. … [A] bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’” [Matt. 17:1-2,5]
This week, followers of Jesus observe Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the Lenten season of sacrifice leading up to Easter. Ash Wednesday is a holy day of prayer and fasting — and it is a time for contemplation of our human nature as both the dust of this world and the light of the Spirit into which we may grow through our spiritual discipline in walking the path of Christ. As a reminder of these truths, many Christians place ashes on their foreheads and recite the words, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”