Worship for Sunday, February 27, 2022

Exodus 34:29-35

Moses 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. 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.

The Word of the Lord.

Psalm 99

The Lord is king; let the people tremble.
The Lord is enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth shake.

The Lord, great in Zion, is high above all peoples.

Let them confess God’s name, which is great and awesome;
God is the Holy One.

O mighty king, lover of justice, you have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 

Proclaim the greatness of the Lord and fall down before God’s footstool;
God is the Holy One.

Moses and Aaron among your priests, and Samuel among those who call upon your name, O Lord, they called upon you, and you answered them,

You spoke to them out of the pillar of cloud;
they kept your testimonies and the decree that you gave them.

O Lord our God, you answered them indeed;
you were a God who forgave them, yet punished them for their evil deeds.

Proclaim the greatness of the Lord and worship upon God’s holy hill;
for the Lord our God is the Holy One.

2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2

Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 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 was being set aside. 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. 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. 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.

The Word of the Lord.

The Holy Gospel according to Luke 9:28-43a

Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.   They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now 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. Just 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. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”   When 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.

On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him.   I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While 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. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.

The Gospel of our Lord.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I love to be outside – to walk – to hike – and to climb over hill and dale. I have even been known on REALLY good days to hike up and down a mountain. (Not Mt. Everest or anything nearly so impressive.) But I do love nature-y things. And from time to time – after spending a day in God’s great and glorious creation – I end up glowing just a bit.

Sometimes – I glow because I forgot to apply sunscreen and I get a sunburn. Wow – does this lady of Irish and German descent “glow” after a day in the sun without sunscreen!   If I am careless – I end up looking like a commercial for aloe vera lotion and Advil.

Parents use me as a cautionary tale. They warn their kids – “wear sunscreen or you will look just like that sad – red – crying lady over there.” And as soon as their children see me – they beg for sunscreen in SPF 10,000 and great big – goofy sunhats.

Other times I glow because I am huffing and puffing from a hike up a steep hill. Or these days – maybe just a walk up a modest incline. My knees simply aren’t what they used to be. Actually – neither are my lungs or my calves or my shoes!?!? Sometimes I “glow” bright red because of physical exertion and I am just plain out of oxygen!

Still other times I glow because of joy. Because I am so happy – I just can’t stop smiling. Nature has that effect on me. I find myself grinning from ear to ear because of a gorgeous blue sky or a lovely flower or a graceful butterfly or the delight I feel when I happen upon a turtle sunning itself in the afternoon sun.

In our first reading for today from Exodus – we heard Moses also experienced a special glow after hiking up and down a mountain. But Moses’ glow was very – VERY different!

Moses had been up on Mount Sinai spending time with God for 40 days and 40 nights.

Moses often spent time with God the Father. They had a very special relationship.

But this meeting was even more important than usual. During this meeting – God reaffirms the covenant he had made with the Chosen People. God promises he will continue to be their God. That he will be faithful to them. He will guide them. And care for them. And lead them into the Promised Land. God promises to defeat their enemies and to watch over them on their journey.

God reassures them. God makes it clear he is in this relationship for the long haul.

God also gave Moses the 10 Commandments. So – Moses descends Mount Sinai carrying the 10 Commandments on two stone tablets at the end of this very important meeting with God.

But that isn’t all Moses leaves Mount Sinai with.   Moses also leaves with clear evidence of his time spent with God. Evidence that stays with Moses for the rest of his life! The Bible tells us Moses’ face glowed. His face shined. Moses reflected God’s glory!

Moses was physically changed by the time he spent in God’s presence.

Can you even imagine what Moses must have looked like? What does a person look like whose face actually shines with the glorious light of God?

Moses must have been a truly amazingly awesome sight to behold!

Yes – Moses’ face glowed. But Moses’ glowing face had absolutely nothing to do with anything Moses had done. Rather it was all about God the Father. Our God is so glorious – so wonderful – so amazing – so incredibly awesome that just by being near God – Moses was changed forever.

Moses’ shining face was a clear reflection to the world of our God’s amazing awesomeness. Moses reflected God’s glory!

Moses was changed forever by the time he spent with God. And Moses is not the only person who has been changed by encountering the one true God.

Saint Paul was changed forever by his encounter with the risen Lord too. Before Paul became a Christian – his name was Saul. And honestly Saul was a wretchedly awful human being. He was mean and cruel.

Saul spent his days persecuting and killing Christians and his nights plotting to stop Christianity from spreading. Saul hoped to destroy Christianity. In fact – later in life Saul called himself Christianity’s number one enemy.

But all of that changed one day when Saul encountered his risen Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ – as he was traveling to the city of Damascus.

One moment Saul was a cruel – blood thirsty – hate-filled man focused on destroying the Christian faith. And the next he was a Christian named Paul – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.

And spread the Christian faith – he most certainly did. Paul spent the rest of his life sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and starting Christian churches.

Almost 2,000 years later Christians are still reading his letters and are still being inspired by his words. In fact – we read part of Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians this morning.

Paul was transformed by his encounter with Jesus.   One moment – he was Christianity’s greatest enemy and the next – he was a faithful follower of Jesus and a Christian missionary. Paul went from hating Christians and all they stood for – to giving his life to Christ.

And the amazingly awesome thing is – Paul is not an exception. Paul is most definitely not the only person whose life was completely transformed by encountering the Lord.

Paul’s life story is amazing – but what is even more amazing is the fact he only one example of the billions of folks whose lives have been transformed by encountering God.

Because everyone who encounters God – everyone who meets Jesus – everyone who hears the Good News of God’s grace – love and mercy is changed forever.

When we meet God – God changes us. God transforms us. God makes us different.

When we encounter God – we become God’s children and we become people of hope.

Yes – we are all still sinners who fall short of the glory of God each and every day of our earthly lives. Yes – we are still in desperate need of God’s grace – love and mercy. But when we meet God we are transformed into his children.

We aren’t perfect. We aren’t sinless. We are not even almost sinless.

BUT meeting God transforms you forever into his redeemed – forgiven – and saved children.

You have all been transformed from lost sinners into children of God.

You are all God’s beloved children. Today – tomorrow – and for all eternity. Truly this is Good News. AMEN.

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