“Show me your glory, I pray.” (Exodus 33:18)
The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this coming Sunday, October 19th (the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, or Proper 24, depending on how you count), are Exodus 33:12-23 and Psalm 99, Isaiah 45:1-7 and Psalm 96, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, and Matthew 22:15-22.
How do we experience God’s glory? How do our churches experience God’s glory? And particular to the task of sermon preparation this week: How is God’s glory experienced — mind, body and spirit, from our five physical senses to our spiritual and emotional awareness — through worship and preaching?
To be sure, our spirits are soothed
and prayer-making and
community-building on Sundays,
but do our knees tremble as we worship (Psalm 99:1)?
Do our faces drain and go pale with fearful awe
at the nearness of God (Exodus 33:20)?
Do our hearts skip a beat to recognize
the power and gifts of the Spirit
manifest right there among us
in the flesh and life of our
neighbors in the pews
(1 Thessalonians 1:5)?
Does the sermon tune our ears
to the praise of the wheat fields and
the jubilant chorus of the forests (Psalm 96:12)?
In prayer do our minds become clear and shed
their rigid gridlocks of legalism and pride
that cause us to debate and divide against one another
over doctrine and carpet color, same gender love
and committee structure (Matthew 22:18)?
Does worship send us on our tiptoes into the world
to find revealed there the secret riches
that God has hidden
just to convince us that
God alone is God (Isaiah 45:3)?
Perhaps more often than we dare say aloud, we wonder where God’s glory is, we feel guilty that we have not been mindful enough to catch glimpses of it, and we fear that God may abandon us if we can’t figure this faith thing out.
The RCL texts for this week provoke us to experience God’s glory with reverent awe and bold, joyful trust. How will your sermon show God’s glory this week?