2010-02-13 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;


Sunday of the Transfiguration /


Last Sunday of Epiphany


Saturday "Hot Tub" February 13, 2010

  A wonderful section of the website is "Pastor, Talk To Me About..."  Peggy Dillner reflects in that forum on what it is about Moses that made people afraid.  She asks, "Are we to believe this is the same kind of experience Jesus had with Moses & Elijah as reported in Luke?  How can 21st century seekers of the Truth understand these writings?"   

There is a connection between the "glory" referenced in these readings.  Add to them other scripture references to glory, and there is indeed something mystical going on – and not only in the text, but also in our lives as followers of Jesus.  I really like the verse that follows the lectionary reading from 2 Corinthians: "But we have this treasure (God's light in our hearts that gives us knowledge of God's glory in the face of Christ from v6) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing glory is from God and not from us."   

One of our besetting sins as western 21st century people is noticing "glory" without any reference to God.  So glory can actually look pretty amoral, and even ugly.  Whether you think CEOs are grossly overpaid and should be "clawed back," or well compensated by their shareholders because of the value they bring to the corporation doesn't matter.  Whether or not you think someone deserves mega-millions for throwing a basketball through a hoop doesn't matter.  The fact is enough people do believe that to support the system.  So "we" gladly pay handsomely for what looks glorious, whether it actually adds anything of lasting worth to our lives or not.  (Think about Tim Norton's connection, just ahead, between St. Paul's word about love at the end of 1 Corinthians 13 and any of the Christian virtues, from which glory comes.)   

But look again at God's glory in Moses, Elijah and Jesus.  Each served their people (archetypically at the beginning of new eras of grace) by giving themselves.  They saw God's glory (but seeing it was not the point)—Moses in the shekinah glory of the pillar and cloud, as well as his face to face meeting with God on the mount; Elijah in the ordeal with the prophets of Baal, as well as the experience of earthquake, wind and fire – and then the still, small voice.  They became the movers and shakers of new eras because the glory of God was with them and in them.  And their lives showed it.   

Our leader is Jesus.  His glory is demonstrating God's love for the world by offering his life for our sakes.  Our glory is in following Jesus wherever he leads us by his Spirit – and likely we'll follow into some really difficult situations (David's Mississippi trip, the struggles of people in Haiti come right to mind).  But even there the ordinary is turned into choice wedding wine.  That's where transformations occur that reveal a grace and a redemption that are God's gifts to us, and gifts to others through us.   

Peggy concludes, "Someone needs to help me pull the truth from these scriptures that (will) help me deal with my daily work issues, the homeless we shelter, the chaos in Haiti, or my personal relationship with the Ground of Being."   

I hope I am not being presumptuous, Peggy.  But keep your spiritual eyes open at work, and at the homeless shelter, and as you support people trying to help in Haiti.  In each of those, maybe especially in those places, unexpected stories of grace and redemption take shape every day—each one, another glimpse of God's glory.  Noticing them, rejoicing in them, giving thanks to God for them builds relationship with our Ground in trust and hope and confidence that strengthens us for another day.   


Tim Norton commented in "Pastor, Talk To Me About..." about the beauty of the Aaronic benediction, especially as this week we think about the glory of God in Jesus...   

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face to shine upon you;

The Lord lift up the light of his face to you,

And give you his peace.   

It’s his favorite benediction and he's always held the hope to see the glory of the Lord someday wondering, the while, "Could I handle it?" 

After some reflections about that he adds another of St. Paul's benedictions:  "Now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."   

Amen, Tim.  Without love "faith" and "hope" do not matter.  May we expand that?  Without love, "glory" doesn't matter either.  As we receive the love of God through his good gifts with thanksgiving, and as we love God and neighbor by allowing ourselves to be channels of those blessings to others the glory of God's love goes on display in the world!  One day every eye will see!   


My Abba, what a journey this blog has been with all the study, questions, discussions, thinking, reflecting, worrying and soul-searching that were a part of that process.  Thank you for opening my dull eyes to notice some of the glory that surrounds me each day, and for showing me another part of yourself through those visions. 

How very beautiful, and right, and the way things ought to be that loving you and loving our neighbors shines with glory.  Help me to remember that when following Jesus brings me to hard choices that make me doubt whether I'm really up to it or not.  I'm not—except in your power, and by your grace, and resting in your love. 

Tomorrow, our Bethel family will gather to worship.  Be present with us.  Bring us your peace.  Make your inviting graces palpable to those who may be hesitant.  Bring healing to those who are hurting.  And would you give us a glimpse and a taste of your glory while we read, sing and preach? 

Bless us all.  Keep us.  Make your face shine on us.  Give us the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Christ. 

Praise to you Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   Amen. 


2010-02-12 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;


Sunday of the Transfiguration /


Last Sunday of Epiphany

  Friday "Hot Tub" February 12, 2010  

Fridays are the only day of the week I can count on to have no meetings – so it's my day off.  I actually call Friday my "Sabbath," and scrawl the word across my dayplanner page as a reminder not to schedule yet another activity.  It's a day for me and my wife, Judy, and family or friends.  But sometimes there's good reason to work on the Sabbath.  And the blog is a good reason.  

I commented in one of the earlier blogs how love and glory seem intertwined – a good mix, actually, for Valentine's Day / Transfiguration Sunday.  Yesterday, I experienced that mix first-hand on three different occasions.  So as I encouraged us all to watch for the stories of grace and redemption that go on all around us, now I want to share mine with you.  

The first moment of glory came as I was meeting with Nathan, my Kid's Hope USA kid.  Once a week we meet, just he and I, for an hour at Lincoln Elementary school.  I help him with his homework, try to help him understand and correct why he has such a tough time staying on task, etc, etc.  This is my second year with Nathan, and I have come to love him.  

We were going to go through the spelling list – with which Nathan has mighty struggles.  There was something different in his eyes, though.  As we went through the list, Nathan was nailing them, and with each new word spelled correctly his eyes got brighter and wider.  When he finished his list without missing a single word his ear to ear grin, bright shining face (transfigured?), and obvious pride of accomplishment all came together in a grand, library-awakening "Oh yeah!" complete with a mighty high-five.  

Lots of kids at Lincoln School spelled their lists correctly that day.  But I'll never forget Nathan's triumph.  Not because he spelled them quicker, or with less guesses, or whatever other logical explanation there might be.  It's because I care so deeply for this boy, and to see him take even a small a step into achievement and self-confidence is one of the many things I so much want for him.  

The second moment of glory came as I visited in the hospital's maternity ward with Brad and Heather – and their newborn Isabelle.  We talked about all kinds of things related to the little one's birth, and then as Isabelle stirred, Brad picked her up and asked me if I wanted to hold her.  Isabelle snuggled into my arms, took one look up at me, crossed her tiny arms with those perfect miniature fingers across her chest, closed her eyes and went to sleep.  

Two of Brad and Heather's friends came in to visit.  As they talked together, I had time to marvel at the miracle of life once again.  This little one will grow up knowing that her Creator has given her a loving family, and church that will care for her and guide and teach her, a community where she will find her place complete with friends and activities unique to her endowments.    

I wondered, will she have good and loving playmates, will she escape childhood diseases, will she be safe, will she go on to school, will she make a career for herself, will she be hurt by selfish people, will she fall in love, will she find her passion in life early or late, will she love her God...  The glory of her new life—partly the miracle of birth and life itself, partly the unknown potential already developing within her, partly the unknown of life with all its promise and terrors...  All this glory weighing in so very serenely at just over seven pounds.  

The last glimpse of glory I share came on the trip home from the hospital.  I was waiting by the red light at one of those bizarre corners where five roads meet, the lanes are ambiguous and no one really knows what to do.  I couldn't tell whether the old woman driving her Buick in the "odd" lane had a green arrow or a steady green... and it doesn't matter.  She pulled out in front of someone and became so flustered she mashed the brakes and stopped in the middle of traffic.    

The young man who had the right of way had to mash his brakes even harder.  Cars slanted off in different directions.  Fortunately there was no pile-up, though there easily could have been.  As the cars in the middle of the intersection began to unwind the jam, I saw the young guy look at the woman he had just about rammed.  He rolled his window down and asked, "Are you okay?"  The old woman who had her hands on either side of her head nodded meekly and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry."  The young guy made a signal to one of the cars blocking him, pulled out enough so the woman could drive through, and waved her on with a smile.  

It could have been so different.  Maybe I'm a cynic – I expect those things to end badly with honking horns, cussing, flipping fingers and worse.  But no, glory shone through at that intersection in a wonderful act of human courtesy.  The more glorious, I suppose, because I really wasn't expecting to see it.    

One of my colleagues, John Witvliet, remarks about a novel in which creatures living in a two-dimensional world are confronted by a creature from a three-dimensional world.  The novel, "Flatland," illustrates how the discovery of a three-dimensional world was both confusing and inspiring.  But once the inhabitants understood the third dimension, they couldn’t imagine a world without it.    

Once you have met Jesus, and seen the shape of glory that loves by self-giving, you likewise, cannot imagine living without him.  


Jack Vanderplate
2010-02-12 by David von Schlichten

Our guest blogger's posts get me thinking that I may preach about how worship reveals God's glory to us, and that revelation transfigures us. We then go out to help people in need. When we help people in need, we often encounter God again who, again, transfigures us. I will use my MS mission trip this week as an example.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

2010-02-11 by Jack Vanderplate

Towards February 14, 2010;

Sunday of the Transfiguration /

Last Sunday of Epiphany 

Thursday "Hot Tub" February 11, 2010 

Thursdays are my deadline to finish off liturgical planning.  Here's a list of hymns and songs that might give you some ideas... 

The King of Glory Comes

Christ Upon the Mountain Peak

O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair

Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus

0 Wondrous Sight,

O Vision Fair

A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing

All Creatures of Our God and King

My Faith Looks Up To Thee

The Most Excellency Is Jesus

Where Mists upon the Mountain Swirled

Christ Whose Glory Fills The Skies

Church of God Elect and Glorious

Christ Upon the Mountain Peak

Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory

The Lord God Reigns in Majesty 

Don't forget the Psalm of the Day which can be part of assurance, or part of the affirmation of faith, or perhaps an introductory reading before a hymn.  I like to consult old lectionaries when one of the readings doesn't light my fire.  Another benefit is helping to discover other scriptures that fit the theme.  So not only do we have Psalm 50:1-6, but another Psalm from another lectionary:  Psalm 99. 

And James Howell gives us a wonderful idea for the benediction with this quote from Oscar Romero:

When we leave Mass, we ought to go out the way Moses descended Mt Sinai: with his face shining, with his heart brave and strong, to face the world's difficulties.

 So, maybe something like: 

Sisters and brothers, a time came for Moses to descend from the mount.  A time for seeing the glory of Jesus on the mount passed as well.  Yet we have seen his glory; it remains with us.  One day, the glory of the Lord will be openly revealed to all.        

So go now in God's strength, and with bravery,

With faces shining in the radiance of God's love in Jesus.

Go in peace to love and serve our glorious Lord.  

Winola Green submitted this good comment on yesterday's blog: 

The people of Moses day were prevented from seeing the glory of God shining on the face of Moses by a veil.  Were those whose hearts were hardened done so because Moses brought the law? 

It seems to me that the veil has been lifted by the Spirit and we can see God's glory on the face of Jesus and through his miracles.   Jesus brought the Gospel and thus we all can glory in his Transfiguration. Jesus has removed the veil which had covered God's glory. Today we are free and allowed to see God's Glory through Jesus and for that we praise God. That might make an interesting sermon. I'll be listening.  

                           +   +   +


I'm not sure I can pinpoint a single reason for hardened hearts then or now.  Just as there are different threads to my hard heartedness, I imagine that humans have battled lots of fears, prejudices, self-seeking pride and more that brought with it a "hardness."  

I think that things not being the way they ought to be causes hardness.  We live with so much brutality and ugliness, so much callousness and disregard for each other that we protect ourselves with a layer of hardness. 

Probably the disciples on that mountaintop with Jesus battled their hatred of Rome, their dissatisfaction with the teachers of the law at the temple, their inner hungers for something worthwhile to give their days to – all leading to missing the true glory of Jesus because their hearts were set on a lesser glory.  

We who live in the "time between the times" don't get to see many oohs and aahs of glory.  But that doesn't mean we should harden ourselves to make due with the ordinary.  The transfiguration helps me to know that God sees glory where we do not:  on the road to the cross.  If I am willing to walk in the footprints of Jesus, to cultivate a spirit that is willing to give something of myself away so that another can benefit, then I will reflect a part of my savior's glory.  

I like to look for that in my fellow Chirstians too.  There are stories of grace and redemption which, when you start adding them up, are pretty glorious!


Jack Vanderplate; Mississippi
2010-02-10 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to Jack Vanderplate for his exceptionally valuable posts on this Sunday's readings. He challenges us, for example, to consider how we fail to listen to God. Scroll down and jump in.

I am in Mississippi this week with my daughter Katie to help Katrina victims. I am not enjoying the experience, but I am trying to hear God's voice in it all. Indeed, God is talking here, such as in the voice of the person whose house we are helping to rebuild.

Then, in Winn Dixie, my daughter was talking about how kids at school drive her nuts because they are critical and judgmental. Our cashier, Brittany, then said to Katie, "Don't let them get to you." We walked to another part of the store. On our way out, the cashier said again, "Don't let them get to you."

The voice of God through Brittany the cashier.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator

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