Sunday 7th

 

SERMON 2

 

6.30pm  Holy Communion         Last Sunday before Lent                    Preacher  -  Fran Powis           

 

2 Corinthians 3 verse 12—4 verse 2        

Luke 9 verses 28 - 43a

 

Opening Prayer

 

Yesterday we met together for the first time to discuss and share our reflections learned in the first month of SACRED, ‘simply a chapter read every day’.

Some owned to reading the set chapter of the Bible each day, Gary and I have fallen into the pattern of reading two every other day, some may read in a block each week; we have to look at our available time, to our own schedule, what works for us, and plan our time and journey accordingly.

This is proving enlightening, for me at least; I have read much of the Bible, I have used study notes for many years, however I would accept that I have not read the whole Bible. I do know however that when I re-read familiar passages then something new strikes me afresh each time.

In 2 Corinthians 3 verse 18 Paul refers to “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

This veiling comes from the Old Testament, from Exodus 34:29—end, Moses had been up the mountain, meeting with God and receiving the second copy of the Ten Commandments. The first had been smashed by Moses in anger at the disobedience of the Israelite people whilst he was with God.

Moses came down from the mountain carrying the stone tablets bearing God’s Law for his people. Moses’ face was radiant, it glowed; the people were afraid, so Moses veiled his face after he had spent time with God until his radiance faded and the people could look upon him again.

Exodus does not specify whether the people actually said ‘sorry’ to God for their disobedience, or whether they repented, they may have regretted their actions because of God’s decision to travel no further with them. In Exodus 33:3 God said, “Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.”

Exodus 33: 4 tells us the people began to mourn and no-one put on any ornaments. Moses pleaded with God for the people and he also asked God to confirm his instructions by allowing Moses to see Him in his glory. However Moses was only allowed to see the back of God as he passed by, but talking with God was enough to cause Moses’ face to glow with radiance so the people could see that he had spent time in God’s presence.

This giving of the second covenant revealed God’s character as ‘compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin,’ Exodus 34:6,7.

From this aspect of God’s character we know for certain that when we mess up, when we sin and repent, then we are forgiven and our lives can begin anew, untainted, the slate is wiped clean

As Moses’ face became radiant when he spoke with God, so Jesus was transfigured when he went up to the mountain to be with God.

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him up the mountain, where they saw him in conversation with Moses and Elijah. The appearance of Jesus’ face changed ‘and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning’.

The disciples were allowed to see whom Jesus associated with and who he talked to, this was progressive learning for them. As the vision faded and Moses and Elijah left Jesus, a cloud enveloped them, and God’s voice could be heard, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to him.”

Jesus talked with Moses who represented the Law and with Elijah who represented the Prophets, Jesus would fulfil the law and the prophets by coming to earth, showing us God’s love, dying for us and rising again and so defeating death. When we know Jesus and spend time with him, then we are in the presence of God.

The Transfiguration was a high spot in the lives of the disciples, they were on a mountain and witnessed something wonderful, but they couldn’t always live permanently in a ‘high place’, continually being in a state of euphoria, and neither can we. The disciples, when enveloped in the cloud were terrified, and when they came down from the mountain they met with disappointment at their failure to heal the boy with the evil spirit.

We have to live in this world, not all are called to join a closed order or to live on a desert island.

So we go out into the world and we want to share our faith with others by example, for not all are called to preach and teach. We were talking a few weeks ago about gifts, not all are called to the same task for God but we can show his grace to those we meet, and we can show how God has transformed our lives.

Can people see in us the light of God’s love?  We want people to see the radiance that comes from within us as we live by Christian example.

God called Jesus his Son, his chosen one. Jesus has God’s authority. We must abide by the word of Jesus, as he came and spoke on God’s behalf, “Listen to him”, God said from the cloud on the mount of Transfiguration.

Knowing God, through Jesus, saves us from being ‘overcome’, by the evil of this world. Sometimes the news and what we hear of tragic events makes us feel helpless, but by seeing Jesus clearly, by accepting his divinity, our belief and faith save us from being overwhelmed.

As Jesus went to God in prayer, high on a mountain, as he so often did, seeking out places of solitude in a high place, so our time of prayer in God’s presence will strengthen and guide us.

Jesus, Moses and Elijah, on the mountain, spoke of Jesus’ journey and his death, of his ‘departure at Jerusalem’. Here Luke uses the Greek word exodos, meaning divine deliverance.

This is a journey that Jesus must travel alone, Moses and Elijah can’t accompany him; the disciples can’t accompany him. This is a new path, never before trodden by a human, a path leading to Gethsemane and Calvary, as a pioneer, Jesus must travel alone.

No longer would the veil of Moses be necessary to shield people from God’s glory, the three tabernacles that Peter wanted to build were not necessary, the old order of the Old Testament was done away with by the divine nature of Jesus, he stood alone and would journey alone but for the divine deliverance of God which would accompany him.

Returning to 2 Corinthians 3 verse 18 and repeating Paul’s words, “we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Moses and his veil illustrate the fading of the old system and the veiling of the minds and understanding, by their pride, hardness of heart and refusal to repent, of the religious leader in Jesus’ day. The veil has been lifted by Christ, giving us eternal life. Without the veil we can be like mirrors reflecting God’s glory.

As we study God’s word are we aware of our progressive learning, as God reveals more of himself to us and so deepens our faith?

Let us always be open to continuing to learn, day by day, as we move close to God’s glory.

Amen.