Glimpses of Glory
February 7, 2016
Scripture: Luke 9:28-36
Sometimes a morning takes my breath away. A thin fog rising from the snowy earth. A certain slant of sunlight. Dark branches sparkled with countless drops of light. An impossibly blue sky. A sunset of mottled pink and blue sky. On a perfectly ordinary day, God is revealed in creation.
Sometimes it happens with faces too. On occasion, fleetingly and unpredictably, we see a familiar face in a new light. We are struck by its beauty and glowing goodness. We see a glimpse of the holy in a perfectly ordinary person, and once again we know that we are all sparkling creations of our very good God.
How astounding must it have been for Peter, James and John to see Jesus’ face shine dazzling white there on the mountaintop. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white…Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.
Since they had stayed awake—that’s a key, isn’t it? How many days do we walk through the world weighed down by thoughts, as if by sleep? How much glory do we miss every day because we speed through life on autopilot, considering a day as ordinary before it has even quite begun?
I haven’t been privy to a mountaintop moment with Jesus, Moses and Elijah. I would probably have been terrified, as the disciples were. I’m more interested in the mundane but dazzling glimpses of glory that we can see every day if we remain awake.
Many people see God in nature—in a particular combination of cloud and sun and sky. Watching a sunrise across a field. Hearing a chorus of crickets and katydids, red winged blackbirds, robins.
It’s hard to hold a new baby without seeing a miracle.
A bedside when someone passes on into the arms of God is holy ground.
When tragedy visits and people rush toward the danger to help, we get glimpses of God’s mercy and self-sacrifice.
When healing happens, God’s marvelous regenerative powers are manifest.
I have been to the mountaintop—Mount Tabor, the site of the Transfiguration.
A little bit of context to this story: my husband Larry and I went there with two of our kids, who were young at the time; with my father and his wife; and with Larry’s sister and her husband. So, eight people in an eight-person van for four days. As you can imagine, this was definitely a “family trip,” not a vacation.
We saw beautiful places on the “Christian tour” of Israel. Last week I mentioned the place beside the Sea of Galilee where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Plain. Another day, it was a clear, lovely morning and we went up a winding road to the top of Mount Tabor, traditionally thought to be the site of the transfiguration! I was eager for something spiritual to happen to me.
The top of the mountain has been occupied, over the centuries, by a fortress and a series of churches. The latest, the Church of the Transfiguration, was built in 1924; an order of nuns lives nearby.
I was a bit disappointed, frankly. It’s a pretty ordinary mountain—more of a glorified hill, really. The views are nice. The church is fine.
What I really remember about that fine, ordinary morning, was that our kids found a puppy that the nuns were caring for, and three generations of our newly blended family played with the puppy for a while in the sunlight. And that glimpse of glory was enough for me that fine day.
May the glimpses of glory that God gives you today be just as fine.
Please pray with me: Dearest God, you have given us days full of glimpses of glory—days in which the world and the people we love seem new and full of your light. Today, this day, give us the eyes to see that light, and the ears to listen to what you have taught us through your son. We ask in his name. Amen.