Transfiguration Glitter Blessings

On Sunday (5th March 2023) we looked at the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration in the Gospel of Matthew 17:1-9 and then shared a special ‘Glitter Blessing’. Intrigued? You can read the blessing in full below:

Image by John Paul de Quay, lyrics by Sufjan Stevens from his song ‘Transfiguration’

Jesus’ Transfiguration
Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.
Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.” The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.
Then Jesus came over and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” And when they looked up, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus.
As they went back down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen until the Son of Man[b] has been raised from the dead.”

Matthew 17:1-9

Transfiguration Glitter Blessing

At the start of Lent, some of us offered Glitter+Ash blessings in the Gay Village for Ash Wednesday – The Ash represented mourning, and, drawing from Queer History, the glitter represented a gritty, scandalous kind of hope.  It seems somehow, incredibly fitting to bring this same hope-laden glitter into our Lenten re-telling of the story of Jesus’ transfiguration today.  The season of Lent connects the mourning of Ash Wednesday with the new life and celebration of Easter.  As we’ve been talking about, Jesus’ Transfiguration so spectacularly bridges the earthy, visceral humanity of Jesus with his shining, glittering, other-worldly divinity.

I imagine Jesus still shining and glittering from his God-moment in the mountains as he descended, shaking off a bit of that God-sparkle, that glitter from the mountaintop onto his three disciples, Peter, James & John.  His inner circle.  Peter who was called the ‘the rock’ on whom he would build his church … James the first of the apostles to die as a martyr, and John the beloved disciple – the only one of the 12 who would be present at Jesus’ crucifixion and the one to whom Jesus would pass on the care of his mother Mary.

As you know, glitter never REALLY goes away.  It has a way of getting onto everything and everyone, showing up in the most surprising and unexpected places… that little shock of refracted light stubbornly clinging onto the furniture or showing up on your cheek months after a party or a drag show.

I like to think of a bit of that God-sparkle from the mountain clinging to Jesus’ inner circle of friends and being passed on and on and on.

During this next song, we’re going to invite anyone who wants to come receive a glitter blessing … a reminder of the God-sparkle. There are folks at 3 spots around the room with little pots of biodegradable glitter and oil. Unlike the blessings we offered on Ash Wednesday which mark our foreheads, this Transfiguration Glitter Blessing is on your hand for a very important reason.

This subtle but glimmering blessing is to remind you that you can bring the light and joy and glitter of God’s love and radical inclusion to all that you touch. As with glitter, sometimes you are passing on light and blessing to others without even knowing that you are doing it.

For you today, this glitter blessing might be simply a reminder of who you are – a beloved glittering child of God whose very existence, as you are right now, is a delight to God.

Or perhaps today you will receive it as a charge to embrace your influence and capacity to bless others with what God has entrusted to you – as we say in our closing blessing each week: to have the courage to be all that God has created you to be. To consciously, scandalously spread your glitter more each day -an overflowing of the love that God pours into your life.

This next song we’re going to play is by Sufjan Stevens and it tells the story of the Transfiguration.

As you listen to the song and look at the Transfiguration artwork on the screen, pay attention to the sound as it builds and feel free to sing along – it’s ALMOST over the top and overflowing with voices and instruments. It’s a hair’s breadth away from chaos.  Perhaps through the music and the glitter you can hear, feel and experience a bit of that spectacularly shiny, dangerous glittering love of God overflowing for you today in this place.

Jesus has passed on the God-sparkle so that we, too, might be transformed into sources of glimmering, glittering light and gritty, scandalous hope – shining and sparkling like Jesus. Not everyone understands or accepts our kind of sparkle, but we sparkle none-the-less.

Today, this is your blessing and your charge: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. AMEN.

[Glitter applied in a cross on the back of the hand with the words: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world.]

Photo by Gary Hopkins (of Gary’s hand!)

Written by Danielle Wilson for Inclusive Gathering Birmingham – an LGBTQ+ affirming, diverse, justice-seeking church for all in Birmingham UK’s Gay Village.  (IGB is part of the Birmingham Methodist District).

Inspired by the blessing for Transfiguration Sunday written by Rev. Lindsay Conrad for First Presbyterian Church, Mankato, MN as well as the other Glitter Blessing liturgies made available by the wonderful Parity NYC.

The words offered in blessing are taken directly from the Message translation of Matthew 5:14-16.

Feel free to use and share if it’s helpful.