“Show me your glory, I pray.” (Exodus 33:18)

photo by writer’s daughter

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
by hymn-singing
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?

12 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Show Me The Glory

  1. Focusing on the Matthew text this week and toying with the idea of the image of caesar versus the image of God. Do we give to God what is God’s? The image of God is reflected in us – how do we live that out? It’s not a question of how much money we give to the church (though my congregation is in financial crisis, that’s a different sermon) – it’s about how well we serve God in our work as fathers and welders and teachers and grandmothers and gardeners.

    I like how you highlighted God’s glory across all these readings. I wonder if the glory is more apparent when we live in God’s image without fear – when we TRY to be the image of God, rather than just knowing that was how we were created.

    Feedback appreciated! Thanks for your ideas 🙂

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    1. Oooo, I like this direction, canoeistpastor! The image of God is reflected in us, so we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “Do you look like Caesar or do you look like God? Therefore, give yourself to God and be in awe of God’s glory.” I think we often (unconsciously) see ourselves in the image of Caesar — we see ourselves in the image of those in power, those in the magazines, the image of the white hetero Western/American male that is upheld as ultimate, all images of Caesars/earthly gods. But such an important reminder & affirmation: we are images of God.

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      1. Thanks for taking my brainstorm to the next level! I’m going to try to find a big mirror to bring in, so I can actually have the congregation look in the mirror, and ask them whose image they see. “Do you look like the president or the governor or Bill Gates or Donald Trump? No, you look like God. And so does the person next to you. So each one of you is being asked today to give to God what carries God’s image – YOU.”

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  2. Living out the image of God reflected in us, it is tricky now and according to the Matthew text, tricky then too!
    I really love the pulling out of God’s reflected glory and God’s actual glory in these texts.I am going with Exodus, at least according to the bulletin.
    Struggling with the idea of Moses’ being prideful enough to say “I want to see you!” and God being cheeky enough to only show God’s backside!
    Not the most mature place, but here I sit.

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    1. Heehee. I love it! I wonder what it says about Moses/us that we cannot “handle” seeing God’s face but only God’s rear. 🙂

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  3. Thanks for the meditation on the Exodus reading. We are celebrating St. Luke’s Day on Sunday. The Gospel reading is Luke 4: 14-21—Jesus in the Synagogue—and I’m keeping the Exodus reading so that we can look at how St. Luke showed us something of God’s Glory through the Gospel of Luke.

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  4. My choir director asked if we could do the story of Jericho on youth Sunday and I said yes. Over the past few weeks I’ve been wrestling with this messy text. Fun as a kid story, fun kid songs, not so pretty as an adult story. But today it struck me that the directions God gave were to worship. Led by priests, carrying the ark, blowing trumpets, 7 days like a festival. Trumpets were to call to repent and worship. And looking at what Rachel wrote about the lectionary texts for this week above, I’m feeling a little less like I’m out in left field. Moses needed to see God’s glory before moving forward with the formidable journey. God is bigger than the most formidable city in the Promised Land. I’m still hearing kid songs, though. God is bigger than the boogie man… (Veggie Tales). But I’m also hearing Chris Tomlin’s God of Angel Armies and Lincoln Brewster singing “Lord I’m amazed by you…” (This song prompted a blog post this morning http://makrabbe.blogspot.com/2014/10/amazed.html) Does anybody have a shofar I could borrow?

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      1. I met with the three youth that are helping lead on Sunday and to act out parts of the story…and they challenged me to talk about the annihilation in the sermon, rather than ignore it. Drat. I thought I had a plan. Ezekiel 33:11 helps a little bit: “God says, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked.'” I’m not a big fan of leaving questions unanswered in sermons because I prefer to do that in small groups so we can talk about it…but this may be one of those. A Habakkuk 3 moment? “….Though the fig tree does not bud
        and there are no grapes on the vines,
        though the olive crop fails
        and the fields produce no food,
        though there are no sheep in the pen
        and no cattle in the stalls,
        [though the entire city and all who live in it are destroyed]
        yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
        I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

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  5. It’s important not to take the RCL reading in islolation from the surrounding test. A clue to image/idol/ eikon is seen in the “ornaments” the Hebrew wilderness refugee ‘politico-religious’ community are wearing. They are celebrating so many things, while grumbling about the wilderness, Moses, and God bringing them here. But they aren’t celebrating God. Moses’ acted parable of moving the “tent of meeting” far off from the camp/community so it is in line with the “piillar of cloud” (and probably in the direction of the route to the promised land) is paired with the required removal of their ornaments when they worship. That’s an acted parable in itself — they (and we) are to be ‘ornaments’ to God’s glory. It relates to what is left when God’s glory/”faces” has/have gone by, God’s hand is lifted, and what remains is God’s “backs” which Moses sees as he looks out from the crevice/cave of the rock/ mountain. Included in his vista are the “tent of meeting” and the route to the promised land (in the direction of the pillar of cloud). As people/”disciplos”=”students”) who are at God’s “backs”, we are to worship (study, praise and pray) and to follow (exemplify).

    That all ties in with Jesus’ acted parable of asking for a coin, his chosen-at-the-time teaching tool/object lesson. What a shock and a laugh when a Sadducee hauls out a Roman coin; faithful believers were only to carry ‘temple’ coinage! Whose “back” was that Sadducee following? Same question for us!

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