2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Luke 9:28-36
Every year about this time we read about Jesus walking up the mountain with a couple of disciples, becoming brilliantly white, meeting with Moses and Elijah and hearing the voice of God say, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”
Then Jesus, Peter, James and John make their way back down the mountain and continue on their way to Jerusalem.
This is not the only time someone became dazzling white in the presence of God. Moses, when he came into the presence of God, had his face glow so much that he wore a veil over it so as not to scare the Israelites as they walked through the desert from Egypt to the promised land. That too, occurred on a mountain.
I’ve also witnessed several adult baptisms and proclamations of faith in the church where people publicly profess their faith in God through Jesus Christ.
When I’ve witnessed this happen, there is something about their face. The easiest way to describe it is they glow. Sure, it’s not the blinding white glow we read about this morning with Jesus, but there’s something in their wide smile as their eyes sparkle.
Even in 2001 when I joined the church for the first time, I remember walking through the hall after church for a luncheon, people would come up to me, congratulate me and tell me how I was “glowing”.
There’s something about making a public statement about your faith that brings you closer to God, and it’s something people recognize just by looking at you. You end up wearing a smile that couldn’t be wiped off by a 2×4. The only way people won’t stop and say something to you is if you keep your face covered.
Just like Moses did.
In the book of Exodus, Moses came down the mountain after talking with God and his face was glowing. The passage in chapter 34 says his skin was shining. And when the Israelites saw him, they were afraid to come to him. So he shared what God had told him, then covered his face with a veil. Moses would remove it to talk with God and would replace it after he shared what he learned with his people.
Paul questions why Moses would do this. Why would Moses cover his face to hide the glory of God?
Paul tells us that in Jesus Christ we have great hope. And because we have such great hope, then we should act with boldness. If we hide the glory of God, all we are doing is helping people miss the goodness of God.
Or as Paul puts it, we are helping “their minds [be] hardened.”
Paul tells us it is through Jesus Christ that the veil is removed. Even Jesus tells us the same when he explains why he speaks in parables. He speaks in parables so those who are in relationship with God can understand. He tells us others, who are not in relationship with God, they will not understand the message.
I can’t say it better than Paul himself, when he writes, “Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
When we read scripture, how are we receiving it? Whether in the church or at home, where is your mind? Where is your heart?
I think that when we gather here and in many churches, we are quite open about our faith. We ask questions, we listen with open minds and hearts, we come to be close to God and worship Him.
But what happens when we leave? What happens to the knowledge and insight we’ve picked up while we sit here for an hour a week?
There was an interesting article in USA Today earlier this week. It cited a study on the state of the churches in Canada. The title of the article is, “Christian churches in Canada fading out: USA next?”
The study focuses on the Anglican church in Canada, but simply shows the trend we’re all becoming increasingly aware of: the future of the church in Canada looks bleak.
Quoting Michael Valpy from the Globe and Mail, who did the initial study, the article says, “Canada has become a ‘post-Christian society’ where once-dominant Anglicanism has ‘moved to the margins of public life.’”
The same can be said for our own denomination as we have seen dramatic declines in our own national attendance figures.
The veil that Paul talks about is spreading fast.
And it blocks out the light. The light of Christ.
The question I have is, “Why do Christians put on the veil when we leave our churches?”
What if, when we leave the church, we let the light of Christ shine. The same light that was emitted when Jesus was transfigured on the top of the mountain in the presence of the disciples, the same light that shone through the face of Moses, the same glow we see in the faces of those who come to Christ and declare it to the world through baptism and confirmation.
The light of Christ is a light to let shine for the whole world to see.
As Christians we are people who carry this light within us. Paul told us to be bold with this light. Take it to places where it’s not normally seen. Which, in Canada it seems, is a lot more places than it used to be.
There’s a song by a band called Newsboys called “Shine”. The chorus goes like this:
Make´em wonder what you’ve got
Make´em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored
Let it shine before all men
Let´em see good works, and then
Let´em glorify the Lord”
How true these words are.
When we turn to Jesus and let our veil be lifted we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We are filled with a light that makes others wonder what it is we are up to. They look at us and see the love and enjoyment we have in serving our God, and they wonder what they are missing.
So, if you’ve encountered Jesus Christ in your life… if you have been touched by the Son of God who came to earth to set us free from the veil which keeps us in darkness… then shine.
Let the Christ who live in us shine. When we go out into the streets… shine. When we talk to our neighbours and friends… shine. When we go about our daily work… shine.
Jesus told his disciples not to speak of what they saw. Why? It wasn’t time. He still had work to do. But Paul! Paul tells us it is time to speak of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Paul tells us it is time to shine.
When we shine, Jesus Christ is seen by the world. When we shine people want to know what it is that gives us life. When we shine, the world around us wants to shine with us.
The hope of Jesus Christ gives us the ability to shine by letting others see what he has done for us. When others see what he has done, they will want to shine as well.