Too strange NOT to tell: The Transfiguration

Learn the story of the transfiguration, or simply watch the video and do the “Ways to Wonder” exercises near the end of the post.

And be sure to check out Story Divine to hear more stories from the lectionary, along with personal storytelling prompts!

WATCH and WONDER

Matthew 17:1-9
The Story of the Transfiguration
as told by MaryAnn McKibben Dana

The transfiguration story is a strange one indeed. Many people have wondered what to make of this story. Storytelling the transfiguration is a wonderful way to connect with the story and to draw others into the experience on the mountain. Who knows–maybe we will be transfigured in the telling! I challenge to you to tell the transfiguration story BY HEART on Transfiguration Sunday this year. Here is a link to the text courtesy of gotell.org!

WONDER WORDS

Tranfiguration is the “act of being transfigured.” To be “transfigured” is to “change in outward appearance; transform” or “to change so as to glorify or exalt.” (dictionary.com) In this story, Jesus is transfigured on the mountain. What does the story say that transfiguration looked like?

Learn it BY HEART

1) As you are working on learning the story, considering using this Retell Wheel (just click the link)–especially if you are learning with the younger set. Just click on the wheel and answer the questions!

2) Divide your text into EPISODES. Episodes are “chunks of the story that are unified by a theme or an image,” (Story Journey, 13). Name each episode. The names for each episode should be brief (1-3 words) and easily understood. Write the names on the margin next to each episode. Choose episode names that will help you recall the content of the episode. When you are ready to tell the story, fold your paper over and see if you can tell it!

3) MAP IT OUT! On a piece of paper, map out the story. Where are Jesus, James, John, and Peter? Where do Elijah and Moses appear? Which way do they go up the mountain? Down? Where is the cloud? Where are you? Once you have mapped it out on paper, try to SEE IT in your mind. Now tell the story. (Hopefully you’ll begin to ask yourself lots of questions about location. For instance, where are you looking when you are Peter talking to Jesus?)

WAYS to WONDER

1) What would it have been like to see Jesus so transformed? Imagine the brightness. Is it blinding? Soft? Inviting? Harsh? Spend a few minutes just picturing that part of the scene. Now tell the first episode.

2) Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Tell a story about an experience you did not want to end. Why was it so good?

Remember to flesh the story out by thinking of the KEYS TO THE STORY:
Where were you? (Consider the sights, smells, sounds, etc.)
Who was there?
What were you (or others) feeling at the time? Thinking? Has that changed over time?
What actions occurred?
Did you have a sense of God in the moment? Has that changed over time?

MORE to TELL

Watch MaryAnn’s brief commentary on the experience of telling the transfiguration story!

And be sure to check out MaryAnn’s amazing blog, The Blue Room. MaryAnn is a pastor in the PC(USA), blogger, and the author of Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family’s Experiment with Holy Time. (Put this book on your to-read list–it is amazing.) Here is a recent piece she wrote about Faith and Wonder!

3 thoughts on “Too strange NOT to tell: The Transfiguration

  1. Pingback: Episode 4: Before The Whirlwind | Story Divine

  2. Hilary Campbell

    I took the challenge and told the Transfiguration today (Mark’s version). I’ve told oral stories before, eg for sermon, but this was first time I’ve told a gospel reading. It was scary and good. (Quite fitting for the Transfiguration!) I was surprised at the freedom I felt in telling the text and allowing myself and the listeners the freedom to be with the story without trying to work out the message and meaning. Listeners remarked on the difference in hearing and receiving when the gospel is told rather than read. Thank you for the push to try.

    Reply
    1. Casey Post author

      Just saw this comment! Again, so glad you told it by heart! There is a HUGE difference, and people are generally so supportive–they are amazed that you get up there and try it in the first place–and then even more amazed by the experience.

      Reply

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