Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Radiant Glory"

Exodus 34:29-35,Psalm 99,II Corinthians 3:12-4:2,Luke 9:28-36

February 14, 2010

by James Greene

 

†††††††††† There are times in our life where we have used terms to describe people, their personalities, and their effect upon us.We use the phrase about a woman who is pregnant that she has a certain glow.There are successful people in the work place who are described as a rising star.People who are known people, because of their integrity or exemplary work ethic, are described as a shining example.It is about their glory.It is about their importance to us.

In the reading in Exodus, we see the experience of Godís people described when Moses returns from Mount Sinai with the testaments of the Lord. This was really scary to the Israelites at the bottom of the mountain.He could readily be described, in modern terms, as a shining example to the people he was leading.

††

The Hebrew term for this glow, that come from Moses, is called Shekhinah, or ShekhinahGlory.It is in the ĒfeminineĒ gender in the Hebrew language.It represents the feminine attributes of the presence of God.It is a word that means the Ďdwelling or settlingí, and is used to denote the dwelling or settling presence of God, especially in the Temple in Jerusalem.It can also mean ďroyaltyĒ or dwelling place with the settling in of Godís presence, where God is indwelling in the Temple.In the Hebrew wedding the veil is worn by the bride because Godís presence is with the bride during the wedding ceremony, and the veil, like Mosesí veil, covers the brideís glory.This is the history behind our modern tradition of the bride wearing a veil.

It is the Spirit of the Lord being present like the cloud or smoke described in Isaiah 6:4 where ďthe house was filled with smokeĒ, that filled the sanctuary, denoting the presence of God.It is like the pillar of fire in the desert, at night, that let the people know that God was in their presence.

 

There is type of cloud structure called a Glory, in meteorology.A Glory an optical phenomenon produced by light reflected toward its source, by a cloud of uniformly-sized water droplets.It gives off a series of rainbow rings.The technical description, is that this optical phenomenon, is produced by light backscattered (a combination of diffraction, reflection and refraction) towards its source by these uniformly-sized water droplets.Since it is seen in the direction opposite the sun, it is most commonly observed while airborne, with the Glory surrounding the airplane's shadow on clouds. ††

There is a term associated with Glories called Brocken spectre. This is named after the Brocken peak in Germany.It is above the cloud level, and the area is frequently misty and, the peakís shadow is cast onto the cloud layer.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1

This is also when a large magnified shadow of an observer is projected, upon the upper surfaces of clouds, below the mountain peak where they are standing.The appearance of giant shadows that seemed to move by themselves is due to the movement of the cloud layer, and they are surrounded by optical glory halos.

 

This description of meteorology can help us to see and understand the description in Exodus 24:15-16 ďWhen Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.For six days the cloud covered the mountainÖ and the Lord called Moses from within the cloud.Ē

This concept can be seen reflected in our call to worship ďKnow that God is in this place and present with usĒ.We also see in Luke 2:9 another example of Godís Glory, with the appearance of the angel of the Lord in Bethlehem, and ďthe glory of the Lord shone around them.ĒIt represents Godís Glory and presence to the shepherds. So, in the modern description of the Glory cloud reflecting the light, gives us a glimpse into the text as to how ďthe Glory of the LordĒ reflects Godís presence with His people in the Old Testament and in our modern worship.In the New Testament this glory is equated to the presence or indwelling of the Spirit of the Lord.We see and refer to it as the Holy Spirit.

 

†††††††††† In Psalm 99 is another aspect of glory.It is our personal praise in worship to a Holy God that is a reflection of His glory.The entire focus is of the Psalm is the praise of the Lord, and in worship that the Lord our God - ďis HolyĒ.We see this in the Greek word Doxa which is the root for name of the Hymn from 1647: The Doxology.It is a praise of the Glory of the Lord.It calls to mind, the history of Godís people, how Moses, Aaron, and the priests called upon God.It reminds us how God spoke from pillar of cloud in the wilderness.†† It recalls how Samuel called upon Godís Name, and how God, in his glory, answered.†† It reminds them that even at a time when the people of God were impure, Godís Divine Presence was still with them.It reflects upon Mosesí shining face and the Divine Presence that resided with Moses.

 

†††††††††† This brightness and glory are also a reflection of the individual.This Shekhinah is also what caused prophets to prophesy and King David to compose his Psalms.It was regarded as the source of prophesy.ďIt manifests itself as a form of joy, connected with prophesy and creativityThe term that comes to mind is the word and the concept of inspiration.Like the way music can inspire and move us to a higher level, and bringing about creativity and harmony.So we see in both the use of Godís name, and Godís glory the subtly of the abiding presence of God with his people.This is not demonstrated with Godís voice, but in Godís presence in the light and in the cloud of his presence.

 

††††††††† In II Corinthians, Paul demonstrates how we as Christians are not like Moses, but we are to be bold because of our hope in Christ.He shows how their minds were veiled

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2

by their dullness.It is a veil that covers their hearts.Paul says, it is only in Christ, that the veil, is taken away.It is the Lordís Spirit Ė like that represented by the Shekhinah, in that inspired creativity, there is freedom, whenever anyone turns to the Lord.

†††††††††† We are like a mirror that reflects Godís glory, and Godís image, though that reflection is imperfect.Our veiled faces should reflect the Lordís glory in our walk as Christians.We are to reflect and are to be transformed into his likeness, just like the Glory cloud effect.We in who are created in the image of God also called to reflect Godís image in the living of our lives.

 

This is also an illustration of how God's light shines through us, to be Christ to those around us, and the impact, upon all around us, in hearing and being apart of the Good News.It is to be in our nature to inspire and to bring that light to the world.We are to be the living example of Jesus.We are to be a witness and reflection to, and of the light of Christ.We are committed to be the living examples of what it is to be in, and doing God's Will; living aware of salvation, and the resurrection after this life.

 

In some of the tower tombs from about 400BC in Palmyra in eastern Syria, there are carved images of the individuals buried there.There were entire family portraits in stone.What was interesting, was the woman was shown with her veil down, to reveal her face, symbolizing that in death her true image was revealed.Today for us, it is like taking the risk of revealing ourselves.†† It is because the light, the Shekhinah glory of God, shines through us to demonstrate Godís love and presence to others.††

What Good News we have, that our greatest hope is realized in the Light of the world that has come into the world.Christ comes to us and calls us by name, that we might have Hope, and Joy, and Confidence in knowing that presence of Christ, the Savior, is with us, and we are to participate in God's Creation and sharing of that light. We are to be both light and salt to those around us, so they might have hope and believe. We must bear witness and reflect Godís Light like the Glory cloud.††

 

From Luke, we see the story of the transfiguration of Christ before Peter, James, and John on a mountain.This is just before Jesus sets out for Jerusalem and the cross.We see again, the Shekhinah glory of the Lord revealed in the brilliance of Jesus.We also read, like in the Exodus, how a cloud encompasses them on the mountain and the voice of the Lord identifying Jesus as the Son of God.

 

The experience in the Marine Corps of climbing Mt. Fuji with a friend, and how your are walking along and a cloud come and envelopes everything and you can only see 15-20 yards in any direction around you.††

 

The disciples see Moses and Elijah with Jesus.And there is the Glory of the Lord revealing the Son of God in his Shekhinah Glory.The only thing is, that they like the Hebrews, have veils over their faces, as seen by Peterís suggestion to build 3 booths.They are blinded to the significance of Godís intended Glory for them and mankind.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3

†††††††††† It reminds us of the things that cause our perspectives to be asleep (like the apostles) where we are closed to new ideas, we donít face questions or doubts, or we are just apathetic to events around us.

We must remember friends in Christ that as followers of the Lord, we are to be aware of the inner glory, and inspiration that God has given us and has revealed to us in the text.We are required to act in boldness, and to remove the veil that separates our inner radiant glory, to reveal the love and intent of God, and Godís Glory to all of those around us if we are to be in service to Godís will.††

 

 

†††††††††† In the Name of the Father,the Son, and the Holy Spirit.Amen

 

 

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 4