In the orthodox churches there is a large screen that is placed at the front of the sanctuary. This wall of icons, or Iconoclasis, distinguishes the sanctuary from the nave of the church. There are certain Icons that must be included on this wall, in a particular order. The priest and deacon enter the sanctuary from the right, and leave on the left side. The liturgical rites are not seen by the congregation, but throughout what would be the Eucharistic Prayer, the deacon comes to the entrance of the sanctuary and leads the people in chants and song.
The feast we celebrate today is that of the privilege which the Apostles, and we the hearers of the Gospel, have in seeing Jesus in his glory. Jesus is not simply a doer of good works, or an articulate speaker, he is the Son of God who shows us the way to the Kingdom. Towards the end of this Gospel people wander away from Jesus as he expresses the demands of discipleship. In John's Gospel we begin to witness the hostility towards Jesus because of his teachings and actions. These folks have not allowed Jesus to lead them through the "portal" into the vision of the Kingdom.
The Transfiguration calls to mind for us the fact that God has a plan. The prophets and all of the holy men and women call upon us to be true to the covenant and to live a worthy life of conversion and discipleship. Remember several weeks ago whereas we heard Jesus remind his followers that some would call out his name, to which he would respond that he does not recognize them.
The challenge of that our faith conveys is a certain depth and intensity in regards to our relationship with Christ. Christianity is a climbing the mountain experience, not a stroll through the park. One has to wonder how often that vision was discussed by Peter, James, and John. And in their ministry after the death and resurrection how it might have become that source of strength and confidence.
Today's feast gives us a momentary glimpse into the everlasting banquet, beyond the screen. It reminds us in a most powerful way of our ultimate life with God; challenging us to live as God's holy people.