Waking to Divinity
By Khouria Faith Potter
The more years I spend within the Church, the more I am amazed by how beautifully woven together the feasts of the Church are. August 1 is the start of the Dormition Fast, where we remember the death of the Theotokos. In the middle of this fast, we will celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration. The Gospel passage for this feast is one of my favorites:
Here we see the collisions of sleep and wakefulness, death and life, humanity and divinity, speech and silence. The humanity of the Apostle Peter is so evident here: sleeping when he should be awake and alert, saying something kind of ridiculous, missing the point at first. These are such relatable errors. The significance he does not initially comprehend is the Divinity of Christ that’s shown through His Transfiguration. Peter had been with Christ all along, so it makes sense that he focused on Moses and Elijah, though their presence was not what was most significant. It takes a cloud descending and a voice speaking from it to tell Peter what is important. Remembering the humanity of the saints is so beneficial, because it reminds us that we can glorify Christ in our lives as well. The hymns of the Church for this feast offer us insight on how:
In this hymn, we are the “sluggards” that are being challenged to wake up and participate in the Transfiguration. This feast is not seen as being just a moment in time that we have no part in, but we are told to experience it for ourselves. What a beautiful reality. In the timing of this feast, there is a juxtaposition of the Apostles falling asleep away from life while the Theotokos’ death is a falling asleep into life, moving towards Christ, resting in Him. I love how the icon for this feast shows Christ by her deathbed holding the Theotokos’ soul as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, bearing her into heaven as she bore Him on earth. This feast of the Dormition celebrates how she who interceded on behalf of the couple at the wedding of Cana is now with her Son, interceding on behalf of the world. We rejoice in her death, because through it we gain her intercessions for our healing and salvation. We are asked in this season to contemplate how humanity and divinity met in Christ and the Theotokos and how humanity and divinity can also meet in us. May we both awaken more to Christ’s nearness to us and learn more to find our rest in Him.