Last Sunday after Epiphany – Yr C (2/10/13)

31 Jan

Exodus 34:29-35

2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2

Luke 9:28-36,(37-43a)

 

Psalm 99

Extol the Lord our God,and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy.

 

Opening Questions

  1. Think of your personal experience with a dramatic life changing event.
  2. Did it produce some benefit; and would you welcome such an experience again?

Appointed Passages[1]

Exodus 34:29-35

29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32Afterwards all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

  • How do you think Moses relationship with God changed after he received “the word”?
  • Assuming his relationship with God was closer and improved, how might we pursue growth in our own relationship with God?

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

12Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

4:1Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

  • How might we engage hope as a catalyst for acts of “boldness” (v.12) in our religious development?
  • Assuming that the “veil that lies over our minds” describes being bound in our own comfort zone, what actions might we take to move us out of that zone in order to enhance spiritual growth?
  • What does it mean to commend yourself to the conscience of those around you (v. 4:2)?

Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

28Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said. 34While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’ 36When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

37On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. 38Just then a man from the crowd shouted, ‘Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. 39Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It throws him into convulsions until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. 40I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.’ 41Jesus answered, ‘You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.’ 42While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. 43And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said to his disciples,{ 44‘Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.’ 45But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.}

  • Peter obviously wanted to translate the experience into something meaningful by actions.  If building dwellings to commemorate the event was inappropriate, what would have been better?
  • After the resurrection, the disciples were empowered to heal (apparently in this passage, that power had not been engaged – v.46).  Do you think your religion has the power to heal?

Comment

We read of Jesus and Moses having mountaintop experiences in today’s scriptures.  God becomes present and they become prescient.  They become living pipelines of spirituality from God to humanity.  While their relationships with God were already strong, the mountain top experience infused them with Holiness in a way that both dramatically and physically changed their human existence and set them apart.  They received the word of God and were transformed into exemplary messengers.

Paul reminds us that by we also, by receiving the message of God, have hope which can empower bold acts.  We can therefore also become servants and messengers for God in ways both large and small.  I think of instances when I am leaving work at the end of a long day and encounter someone whose face reflects the anxiety of a grueling workday.  My usual tactic is to suggest “its martini time” as an icebreaker.  It is fascinating to see life return to their faces.  I’m not sure God would support my encouragement of a martini, but suspect he would appreciate the attempt at lifting their spirits.

The transformations that Moses and Jesus experienced helped them become more transparent in terms of their connections with God as fundamental to their sense of values.  We tend to trust those whom we know well enough to understand their motivations.  Such trust empowers those who earn it with an extraordinary strong connection to those who trust them.  This connection also opens unusual access to the “trustors” inner person – and thus the ability to recommend actions or helpful ideas…perhaps in a sense, healing the trustor.

When we open ourselves to receive God’s word, we can and do become transformed into agents of change.

 

Quotes for Today:

To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.

George MacDonald

 

The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.

James Yorke

 

These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.

Vernon Cooper


[1] New Revised Standard Version of biblical passages

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: