The Transfiguration Feast is an important one for Orthodox Christians. In Greece and Romania, it coincides with the beginning of the grape harvest, and grapes would be brought to the church for blessing. In Georgia, Transfiguration psychologically is seen as the beginning of autumn by many people, but the grape vintage (rtveli) usually takes place later; late September in the East and late October in Imereti (and November in the Black Sea region). Interestingly, this year most of Georgia had a winter longer and colder than normal, a wet spring, vine budburst two weeks later than normal, and now the vintage is starting a month earlier than normal years for some vineyards, particularly in central Georgia. Don’t be surprised if you see some bunches of grapes in church today.
Jesus had gone with his disciples Peter, James, and John to Mount Tabor. Christ’s appearance was changed while they watched into a glorious radiant figure. There appeared Elijah and Moses, speaking with Jesus. The disciples were amazed and terribly afraid.
This event shows forth the divinity of Christ, so that the disciples would understand after his Ascension that He was truly the radiant splendor of the Father, and that his Passion was voluntary (Mark 9:2-9). It also shows the possibility of our own theosis.
This event was the subject of some debates between Gregory Palamas and Barlaam of Calabria. Barlaam believed that the light shining from Jesus was created light, while Gregory maintained the disciples were given grace to perceive the uncreated light of God. This supported Gregory’s larger argument that although we cannot know God in His essence, we can know Him in his energies, as He reveals Himself.