In the Eastern Church the feast of the Transfiguration is taken far more seriously than it is in the West. For Orthodox Christians it is celebrated as a major feast, which of course it is. Consequently I have written this article in such a way that we can meditate on it through some of the troparions from the Orthodox services of Vespers and Matins for the Transfiguration. 
"With a column of cloud you led [your people] by day, and by night with a column of fire. To light the way of their journey, the way in which they must travel. On Mount Sinai you came down, you spoke with them from heaven; You gave them just ordinances, firm laws, good statutes, and commandments." Neh. 9.12-3
Under the old covenant God gave to the Israelites the guidance and ordinances they needed to reach the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. Mount Sinai represented the covenantal relation between God and His people, and the laws by which they had to live. 
When Christ was born He became the Law and the Prophet under the new covenant. Just as Mount Sinai was and is important for the Israelites so is Mount Tabor for those living within the new Covenant, that is all the baptized. That is why Moses and Elijah appear also on the Mount.
                Moses and Elijah stood before you,
               declaring you Lord of dead and living.

Mount Tabor is an icon for the final glory of Christ and eventually ours too. The light that shone there was brief but a foretaste of the light of resurrection which will shine permanently. 
                   When you were transfigured, Saviour, on Mount Tabor, 
                   you showed gloriously the transformation human beings will undergo 
                   at your second and awesome coming.

Yet Mount Tabor also reveals that there can be no resurrection without the cross. That is why the light on the mountain was fleeting because our Lord could enter into the glory of the Father only by the way of the cross. It is the reason too why the events on Mount Tabor occur just before the Christ's prediction of His passion and death.
                   Before your crucifixion, Lord, you took the disciples up a high mountain,
                    and were transfigured in their presence, 
                    shedding upon them the light of your power.

What Peter, James and John witnessed on the Mount was a revelation of the Trinity, first manifested at our Lord's baptism by John. The voice of the Father echoes His words at that baptism, "This is my beloved Son" whilst the Spirit is the light that enabled the Son to shine radiantly. This experience is too dazzling for the trio who fall to the ground in amazement. 
                To Peter and John and James, your chosen disciples,
                You showed today, Lord on Mount Tabor the glory
                of your divine form.

That light that manifested Christ as the Son of God is later echoed in Colossians as "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (2.9). But Christ is also fully human and so His transfiguration is also a revelation of what we human beings are meant to be.
                For when you had gone up the mountain, 
                Saviour, with your disciples, you were transfigured, 
               and made human nature, darkened in Adam,
               once again shine forth,
               changing it into the glory and radiance
               of your own divine nature.

The light of Tabor is furthermore the anticipation of the parousia, the final coming of  Christ in all His glory. In the meantime the Holy Spirit's guidance in the Church spreads this new resurrected life in the hearts of all who hearken to His prodding. This will come to full fruition in God's kingdom.
                When you were transfigured, Saviour
                on Mount Tabor, you showed gloriously
                the transformation human beings will undergo
                at your second and awesome coming.

One final reflection centres on that light illuminating the whole of the mountain, which in Orthodox tradition represents the whole created order. This too will be transformed with the coming of the kingdom of God. All will be restored to its original state  perfection. 
                Word of God, you are the unchanged light
                of the unbegotten Father's light.
                in your light, displayed today on Tabor,
                we have seen the Father as light, and the Spirit as light
                Who brings to the light the whole creation.

On the feast of the Transfiguration pray for the Holy Spirit to penetrate our lives so that they will glow with that same radiance seen in the beloved Son on Mount Tabor. Pray too for this Spirit to continue to work within us, renewing, refreshing and revitalising us in His service of holiness and love.

Meditating on the events on Mt. Tabor enables us to see our life in relation to that of the Lord. By reflecting we can examine our lives in how good we are in finding a quiet spot to pray, how we pray, our radiance as a Christian, how good we think it is to be with the Lord, and how so often we are like the three disciples and fall asleep on the job. Is the Lord well pleased with our efforts? 

Marianne Dorman
            THE LIGHT OF TABOR
Before your crucifixion, Lord
you took the disciples up a high mountain,
and were transfigured in their presence,
shedding upon them the light of your power.
Both from love of mankind,
and to display your authority,
you wished to show them
the radiance of the resurrection.
Make us too, O God,
fit to see it in peace,
for you are merciful
and you love mankind.
- from Orthodox Vespers for the Transfiguration
When you prefigured your resurrection,
Christ our God,
you took three disciples,
Peter and James and John,
and went to the top of Mount Tabor;
And when, Saviour, you were transfigured,
Mount Tabor was overspread with light.
Your disciples, Word of God,
threw themselves down on the ground,
for they could not bear to look
at the form which cannot be seen.
The angels in attendance
were afraid and trembled,
the earth quaked,
when they saw on earth
the Lord of glory.
- from Orthodox Vespers for the Transfiguration
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