I generally don’t talk about my family in my sermons, but I am going to make an exception today. I don’t believe they would object to my sharing this story.
I have two sons, both of whom grew up around cars and the car industry. They both took an interest in cars and are working in the automotive industry. My oldest son loved Ford Mustangs and became very adept at building Mustangs that were quite fast. My younger son developed a wider interest in cars.
Several years ago I knew a man who owned a replica of a Shelby Cobra. The Cobra was a high performance sports car developed to compete with the more popular Chevrolet Corvette, and they competed very well. My younger son became interested in the Cobra.
One day this friend of mine came into the shop where I was working and told me about a car show the following weekend where he would have his Cobra. I enjoy car shows and so I took my son to this one. There were a nice variety of cars, and seven or eight Cobras. While I walked around the show, my son stayed in the area where the Cobras were.
Then he asked if he could go for a ride in one of the Cobras and the owner agreed to take him. My friend vouched for the man that it would be safe so I let him go for the ride. After about 15 minutes they returned and as they drove across the field I could see that my son had a smile on his face from ear to ear. You might even say he was glowing.
When we returned home he was still smiling. When his brother came in he said to him: “Mike, I have two things to tell you. I went for a ride in a Cobra, and your Mustang is slow!”
Scripture tells us when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, after receiving the Ten Commandments from God, that his face was glowing. He was glowing so much that he wore a veil to cover his face. He took the veil off whenever he went to be with God, but put it back on when he was with the Israelites. We also read about the Transfiguration of Jesus and about how he was glowing dazzling white while on the mountain with Moses and Elijah. Then a voice came from the clouds, a voice like the voice heard at Jesus’ baptism. “This is my Son, my chosen; listen to him!”
The Transfiguration of the Lord comes between the end of Epiphany and the beginning of Lent. For us Christians it is God revealing without any doubt who Jesus is and that we are to listen to him, and to follow him.
The glow that was on my sons face after his ride in a Cobra came from happiness. The glow on Moses’ face and the glow of Jesus came from the glory of God. Often when one spends some time with God, in worship, in prayer, in meditation, in devotion, or just listening for God’s voice away from all the noise and distractions of our daily life, we may glow also. Sometimes this glow is discernable by looking at us, but often it is an inner glow, one that we feel more than one that is visible. When Moses was in God’s presence, he glowed. When we gather to worship, we are in God’s presence, when we sit alone and pray, or meditate, or just listen, we are not really alone, we are in God’s presence. In fact there is nothing we can do to escape God’s presence, for God is always with us. Sometimes we just get so caught up in what is going on we don’t notice.
As Henri Nouwen wrote: “Truly the good news is that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle. God is a compassionate God. This means first of all, that God is a God who has chosen to be with us. As soon as we call God “God with us”, we enter into a new relationship of intimacy. By calling God Immanuel, we recognize that God is committed to live in solidarity with us, to share our joys and pains, to defend and protect us, and to suffer all of life with us. God with us is a close God, a God whom we call our refuge, our stronghold, our wisdom, and, even more intimately, our helper, our shepherd, our love. We will never really know God as a compassionate God if we do not understand with our heart and mind that God came and lived among us and with us.
The way God is with us is through the Word made flesh in Jesus, who walks beside us with love and understanding.
Many of us have felt God’s presence with us in different circumstances. It may have been at a time we were filled with fear and through prayer God calmed us and empowered us to face our fears. It may have been a time when we faced a medical crisis.
I remember when I faced one such crisis. As I lost consciousness, I felt an incredible peace come over me. All the things I was worried about left my mind. I was no longer worried about missing the class I was supposed to be attending. I was no longer worried about reading or writing assignments. The work I was doing for Sunday’s worship service that was not finished no longer weighed me down. All the chores I had left undone left my conscience. It was as if I had totally surrendered and turned everything over to God. All my worries about all the unfinished tasks, and even what was going to happen to me were gone and were replaced by a feeling of comfort and peace, a feeling that my life was in the hands of God.
This same feeling of warmth and peace is often experienced in worship services as well. Many people come to Church with a lot on their mind, the chores they need to do in the afternoon, loved ones who are facing difficult times, or what Monday is going to bring. But Church is a place and time where those concerns can be shed for a while, where those concerns can be given to God, and replaced with God’s love and comfort. Giving our cares to God and being attentive to God’s voice can provide direction for us to handle the things we are worried about. Giving our cares to God, can make us glow on the inside.
When we go out and share the love God has given us with others, we often glow on the outside as well. People can see Jesus working through us, they can experience God’s love and compassion through us, and we can see Jesus in them as well.
As we approach the season of Lent, which starts on Wednesday, this is a good time to examine our spiritual devotions and ourselves. It is a good time to spend some quiet time with God each day, and to listen for God speaking to us. It is a good time to rekindle that glow within us and let the light of Jesus shine through us to help illuminate the darkness for others.
Let us pray:
O Lord our God,
you are great indeed,
clothed in majesty and splendor,
wrapped in light as with a robe.
In the solitude of a mountain height
you revealed your glory in Jesus Christ
even as he faced his crucifixion.
We praise you for this glimpse of the mystery of our redemption.
You loved the world so much
that you sent your beloved Son to dwell with us.
He who bears your very image,
the firstborn of all creation,
through whom all things have been created,
took our flesh and suffered death,
that we may be made whole.
By his death he conquered death,
and by his rising he gives eternal life.
We praise you for your saving grace.
Transfigure us by your Spirit,
and let your love shine in all we do and say
that all the world may see the radiant light of God
Guiding all creation, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen and Amen.
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