Today we heard stories about two people who came so close to God that it made them GLOW. Like a light bulb!
First was Moses. God chose Moses to be the great leader of God’s people. To lead them to freedom, after they had been enslaved in Egypt; though their long journey in the wilderness until they finally come to a land where they could settle.
Who remembers how long that journey was? …
During that wilderness time, Moses talks to God to learn how the people are supposed to live as God’s chosen people. And he teaches them.
There’s a lot that happens in this story, isn’t there? Moses and God are talking up on the holy mountain, and I guess they lose track of time, and the people get impatient. “Why are we just sitting here in the literal middle of nowhere? How do we know that there’s actually a god who is leading and protecting us? Maybe we should just make our own god…”
That doesn’t work out so well, does it? …
But at the end of the story, Moses comes down from the mountain after talking to God again, and his face SHINES. So much that people feel afraid to go near him! So much that he wears a veil – a fabric covering – to hide the light.
It seems like he’s been in God’s presence so much that a little of God’s divine glory has rubbed off on him. Or maybe it’s like glow in the dark stuff, where you have to hold it near a light source for a while to charge it before it will glow. Maybe Moses is a special kind of glow in the dark that is activated by being near God’s light. Maybe we all are!
And then we have a story about Jesus being up on a mountain, and coming close to God. Jesus’ friends, Peter and James and John, see him speaking to two men – Moses and Elijah, two great prophets and leaders of God’s people.
When this story happens, Moses and Elijah had lived a long, long time ago, so I don’t know how Jesus’ friends knew who they were. They didn’t have photographs! Maybe Jesus told them.
And God is there, too – God the Father, Creator, and Source. God is in the mysterious cloud, and in the Voice that says, “This is my Son, the chosen one; listen to him!”
Now, Jesus is a human being, but Jesus is also God. So it seems like what happens here is that some of Jesus’ inner Godness shines out. And that made me think about a little project we did at my house recently.
We found out that if you pour melted chocolate on something called a diffraction grating, then the chocolate becomes very special.
Look, here’s the diffraction grating. And here’s some chocolate. It just looks like normal chocolate right now…. But when I tilt it so that a bright light is shining on it, you can see all these rainbows! It doesn’t look ordinary any more, does it?
So maybe Jesus was a little like that. Most of the time when you looked at him you just saw an ordinary person. But when the light of God the Father and Creator shined directly on him, it made him shine too…
So far we’ve been talking about special people: Moses and Jesus.
But the apostle Paul says that these stories are about us, too. That coming close to God and shining with God’s light is for all of us.
In one of his letters to the church in Corinth, Paul writes, “All of us with face unveiled are mirroring the Lord’s glory, and we are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Lord’s spirit.” (Hart)
Paul is drawing together these two stories, here! He’s thinking about Moses’ veil. And he’s thinking about Jesus being transformed on the mountain top, so that he shines with holy light
When Paul says “the Lord,” he means Jesus. So he’s saying, We can be mirrors that reflect Jesus’ glory, Jesus’ brightness, Jesus’ goodness. We can embrace that, without veiling our faces or hiding the light. And over time we might reflect Jesus better and better, as our lives and hearts match his life and his heart more and more.
So, Paul says, Let God’s light shine through you! Reflect Jesus’ light!
I wonder how we could do that?
Maybe by trying to be patient, and kind, and understanding, like we heard in Paul’s letter about love, last week.
Maybe by being generous to others without worrying about what will come back to us, and praying for our enemies, and loving people even when they’re kind of hard to love, like Jesus said in the part of his sermon that we heard last week.
We get lots of guidance from the Bible about how to live as God’s people and as followers of Jesus. Today’s texts tell us that when we try to make those kinds of choices and live that kind of life, it’s not JUST that we’re following God’s hopes for us. It’s not JUST that these choices help us be people who add to the amount of wholeness and love and joy in the world.
It’s also that when we let ourselves reflect the light of Jesus, the light of God, we might shine a little light into somebody else’s life. That light might bless them or comfort them.
And if they’re looking for God, that light, the light of God that you are reflecting, might help them start to find their way towards God. Like it says in the song we sometimes sing: Let your little light shine, shine, shine – there might be somebody down in the valley trying to get home!
Today is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany. We talk a lot about light in Epiphany! The light of the star that leads the Wise Ones to find the baby Jesus… the Light of God’s promises dawning on God’s people… the Light of God’s presence in the face of Jesus, shining on the mountaintop.
Let’s end Epiphany by singing about letting our little lights shine, one more time… knowing that we don’t have to make the light; we just have to let God’s light shine through us…