Sunday, 7 February 2016

Giving Lent a Bit of a Polish: a Short Homily for the Last Sunday after Epiphany—with Reference to Ex 34:29–35; 2 Cor 3:12– 4:2; Lk 9:28–43

Jesus with a changed face in dazzling white in our gospel reading. Notice what he was doing when it happened—praying (Lk 9.29). Then there was glory as Moses and Elijah appeared (Lk 9.31). Peter and others went from “weighed down with sleep” to awake (Lk 9.32) and seeing the glory of Jesus himself, alone (Lk 9.36). Want to see Jesus and his glory? Wake up and pray.

Being weighed down with spiritual or literal sleep aren’t the only things which can keep us from seeing Jesus in his glory. Paul also tells us of a veil which can lie over our minds and which can be set aside only in Jesus (2 Cor 3.14) when we turn to him (2 Cor 3.16). It’s a veil made of a hardened mind (2 Cor 3.14) which keeps us from seeing the glory of the Lord.

What hardens minds? Jesus mentions a couple of things in verse 41 of the gospel: faithlessness and perversity. Paul writes about shameful things that we hide in the Epistle (2 Cor 4.2). Not to mention resentment, unforgiveness, sexual immorality, anger, the desire for revenge, pride, a life bereft of worship, bitterness, envy, unbelief, prayerlessness, selfishness—the list goes on. A mind-hardened veil can develop into an oppressive and spiritually suffocating and blindfold which, as Paul writes a little later in 2 Corinthians, Chapter 4, veils the gospel and blinds “the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4.3-4). That kind of veil keeps goodness out.

Then we have Moses with his shiny face, shining so bright people were afraid to go near him (Ex 34.30), so bright he thought it best to wear a veil so the people wouldn’t be alarmed at the sight of him (Ex 34.33 & 35). Why was Moses’ face so shiny? Because he’d been talking to God (Ex 34.29). Want to have a shiny face? Talk to God. It works for shining up hearts, minds and souls, too.

Lent starts Wednesday. The perfect time to work on that. Why not lift the veils in our lives and use them to give Lent a bit of a polish this year—so we can shine a bit brighter? Let me remind you of what constitutes a hardened-mind veil lifting, face shining, holy Lent.

Self-Examination

How shiny is the face I present to Jesus and the people around me? How shiny is my heart and mind and soul with the light of the gospel of the glory of Jesus (2 Cor 4.4). How much of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ am I reflecting? (2 Cor 4.6)

Penitence

Are there any sinful behaviours I need to bring into the light of confession and repentance this Lent? I know how good I can be at my heart and mind hardened dance of the seven veils to avoid being honest about my sin.

Fasting

To give my depending on the Lord a bit of a polish. Am I trying to find glory in what I eat or consume? Or is my consumption weighing me down with spiritual sleep? Fasting pushes the reset button.

Almsgiving

Who needs some extra shine in their lives? There are many, many people who are living in the veiled shadows of poverty and need. A generous Lenten gift from someone like you or me could shine with the glory of the Lord in someone’s poverty veiled heart?

Reading and Meditating on the Word of God

Do something systematic this Lent. The Bible wakes us up. It turns us to Jesus. It softens minds and hearts and lifts veils. When we read the Bible we are hearing God’s very voice. Such hearing makes us shine. (If need to remind yourself of that list. It's on page 282 of the BAS.)

Want to get out from behind the veil and see the glory of the Lord? Want to shine as you are transformed from one glory to another? Wake up, observe a Holy Lent, talk to God in prayer and turn to Jesus (1 Cor 3.16). Then, as our minds and faces are unveiled, we get to see the glory of the Lord himself as we are being transformed “from one degree of glory to another. This comes from the Lord, the Spirit.” (1 Cor 3.18)

And we will see the face of Jesus.