Lifting the Veil

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

Let us pray for the Holy Spirit of God to guide our thoughts …

Gracious God, how wonderful that you grant us glimpses of the Holy, eyes that allow us to see if but for a moment the eternal. It is your expectation that by faith we receive these evidences of your power into our lives, that we discern your will, your purpose for each of us. With life around us and before us, we pray that we be kept on your Way of grace and truth, in order that we grow into the full and complete children of the Holy that you mean us to be. Guide us this hour into a greater understanding and a deeper communion with Christ in whose name, we pray through your Spirit. Amen.

FIRST SCRIPTURE READING–            Exodus 34:29-35                        The Shining Face of Moses

Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant[f] in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; but 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, the 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.

May the Lord blessing this reading to our understanding.

 

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING–2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2      The Glory of the Covenant

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that[c] was being set aside. 14 But 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. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And 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.

Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice 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.

SERMON                   “Lifting the Veil”

Transfiguration Sunday comes near the end of the season of Epiphany which ends on Shrove Tuesday. The Season Epiphany represents surprise and intense perception of our experience of God. It begins with the Magi seeking the presence of God after following the miraculous star that led them to Jesus’ home. The Magi experience a divine movement and return home by a different route and we believe this encounter change their lives.

We end Epiphany with another miraculous event, mountain top experience, when Jesus becomes transformed with God’s glory. Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, Peter, James, and John witness Jesus reflecting the glory of God while our Lord converses with Moses and Elijah. The Disciples seem overwhelmed by this event and don’t fully understand the divine interaction. They want to stay on the mountain top in worship and keep away from the challenges of the world. They attempted to veil the episode and hold tight to God’s grace and glory. 

Moses also experienced the glory of God when his face shone brightly following his encounter with God on Mount Sinai. The presence of God’s glory on Moses’ face scared the Israelites. They did not know how to receive this manifestation of God’s presence. So Moses covered his face with a veil until the glory of God faded from his face. Each time, Moses entered the presence of the Lord his face reflected God’s glory for a time.

Christians still experience mountain top experiences that transform our lives and deepen our faith. The Holy Spirit still creates divine interaction. At some time along our faith journey, we encounter the glory of God and it transforms our understanding of God’s love for us. We realize that power of the Lord to touch our hearts and help us experience the Lord’s presence in our daily life. We may want to stay in that place and hold tight to this event never letting go and hoping that the glory of God will never fade.

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle explains that some live with a veil over their eyes. They cannot see the glory of God even when it shines brightly. Their hearts are hardened to the grace of God. These people can hear the Scripture read, but not understand. They reject the message of Good News. They fear that if they get too close to God’s glory it will hurt. Their guilt keeps them from getting close enough to Jesus to be transformed.

The Holy Spirit removes the veil so that we can experience the power of God’s love and grace that allows us to receive forgiveness. God’s Spirit lifts the veil that transforms our life and restores our relationship with our Creator. When we turn to Jesus the veil of blindness fades away and we can see God’s gift of hope. The hardness of our heart is softened and we make room for Jesus to enter in. We discover a new freedom from our sin and we live a new life.

As new creations, we may want to stay in the place where we encountered God’s gift of new life. We want to keep the veil away and display the glory of God. If we looked in a mirror we could see the glory of God shine brightly. The Spirit transforms our very existence with the eternal hope that explodes. Our countenance shines radiantly and those who know us can see how faith transformed our life. They may want us to cover our faith with a veil. They are not ready to come face to face with God’s glory. It still terrifies them.

As Christians, when those we love don’t share our enthusiasm can squelch our faith. As the joy of faith fades, we can start to stray away from God with our non-Christian friends. If we don’t get a new spiritual infusion of God’s glory we will go through the motions of attending worship, but not feel the presence of God. We will do good deeds without feeling compelled in serve the Lord with gladness. We keep the veil hiding our complacency with our culture and not feel inspire to be more Christ-like.

Our culture veils our perception of church. In the 1950s and 60s, Christian faith dominated our society. The culture integrated Christian principles in society and the church accommodated cultural values. New members seeking cultural standing and social contacts joined a church. Society expected community leaders to be members of a church. New members came to worship, just coming in the doors. Our veil expects this to continue.

In the last couple of years, the Spirit of God lifted our veil of complacency.  The 50 year of membership decline in the American Church is real. We realize each one of us must be active in our journey of faith. The idea of reaching out with our faith to invite guests to worship becomes evident. We must lift the veil of others to see God is alive and well, and active in our life. The Lord transformed our life and can transfigure all who trust in the Lord. 

Let us lift the veil and let God’s love shine from our life to others. Let the Holy Spirit use us as instruments to lift the veil that keeps others from seeing the glory of God. TGBTG. Amen.

 

 

  September 2017  
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