Tag: glory of god

Sermon: Seeing The Light of the Glory of God

This is the sermon I’m preaching tomorrow on Transfiguration Sunday. I trust that your experience of worship will be rich and wonderful as you see the light of the glory of God together. 

Seeing The Light of Glory

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate (reflect) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. — 2 Cor 3:12-4:6 NIV

When We Couldn’t See It
Debbie and I have lost some weight these past few months. Several of you have commented on our progress, and we’re pretty happy with the results ourselves. We have been following a diet developed by Dr. John McDougall, a physician in California, who began practicing in Hawaii. Dr. McDougall noticed that the older Hawaiians were slim, did not have cardiovascular disease, or all of the symptoms that go with it, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and so forth.

To make a long story much shorter, McDougall has devoted his life and medical practice to teaching people that a low-fat, plant-based diet leads to improved health and longer life. Now, Debbie and I started reading Dr. McDougall’s books back in the early 1990s. And, off-and-on we would try to eat as he recommended. McDougall recommends no meat (which means beef, chicken, pork, and fish), no dairy (which means no milk or cheese), and no animal-based foods such as eggs. In other words, a plant-based diet.

That sounds pretty simple, and we tried it over and over. But, its really hard to eat just vegetables and fruit, so we would add things like eggs to our diet. And of course, real butter–because it’s real and not artificial–has to be better for you than fake butter, so we ate real butter. And, we also ate peanut butter, which is vegetarian, but not low-fat. And, we didn’t lose weight, and things like my blood pressure and cholesterol only kept getting worse.

Last year, Dr. McDougall came out with a new book titled, The Starch-based Diet. In this book, McDougall said all the same things he had said in his other books about not eating meat, dairy, or added fat. But in this new book, Dr. McDougall had a new wrinkle — or at least I thought so. He made it very clear that the foundation of healthy eating is starches. I know that flies in the face of the low carb diets that are popular, but McDougall demonstrated that all of the world’s primitive cultures ate a starch based diet. In Asia rice was the starch of choice. In the America’s some form of corn or maize sustained entire civilizations. In Africa, root vegetables, rice, and other starches were the basis for their diets. In the Pacific Islands, poi is a starch-based staple. And, I come from Scots-Irish ancestry, and we all know the Irish ate potatoes, which is why the potato famine in Ireland created such a devastating result.

McDougall also said that you feel more satisfied eating starches, because starches generally are the foods that fill you up and give you as sense of satisfaction. Of course, you need vegetables and fruit, but starches should form the basis for your diet.

For some reason, when we read Dr. McDougall’s new book, The Starch-based Diet, something clicked. We understood what we had been doing wrong. You can’t successfully lose weight and improve your health on this diet without following it exactly as Dr. McDougall and others suggest.

So, this time around, we eliminated all the things that we thought we could have a little of, such as eggs, butter, oils, fats, fried food, along with meat, and dairy (all of it including cheese). We started this diet in May of 2012, and by November of 2012 — 6 months — I had lost 40 pounds and Debbie had lost 30 pounds.

Okay, I do have a point here, and today I don’t have time to answer all your questions about where do you get your protein, and shouldn’t you be eating more fat, and isn’t it boring, and what does tofu really taste like. That’s for another time and another discussion.

But my point is that for the first time in over 20 years of reading Dr. McDougall, we finally got it. The light went on in our heads, the plan made sense, and we followed it, and lost weight, and improved our health.

What happened? Why did it take us 20 years to get it? Why didn’t we see it before? I think it was a combination of the culture we grew up in where you were encouraged to clean your plate, and where fried was the preferred method of food preparation. We just couldn’t see past our own life experiences into a world of thinking about food differently.

Two Experiences of The Glory of God
In the same way, and for some of the same reasons, we miss seeing the glory of God. Okay, let me back up here, because today is Transfiguration Sunday. We’ve read that story before. Jesus invites Peter, James and John — the three disciples to whom he is closest — to come with him for a time of prayer. Luke tells us that while they were praying Jesus’ “face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” (Luke 9:28-36 NIV).

And, while Jesus is radiant as the sun, two figures appear with him. Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets in Jewish life, appear and converse with Jesus. Luke says they spoke to Jesus about his “departure” which we understand to mean his death, burial, and resurrection.

The disciples were sleeping, but when they awoke, they awoke to this dazzling display of the glory of God. Peter, of course, has to say something, so he suggests that they build three tabernacles, one for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Of course, you know that Jesus does not allow that, and further that the disciples don’t even tell anyone else about this experience, until much later.

But there is a backstory to the Transfiguration experience. Apparently, this is not Moses’ first experience with glowing like the sun.  In Exodus 34:29-35, we have a very interesting account that we read earlier in the service this morning. When Moses came down off of Mount Sinai, he called Aaron and all the Israelites together to hear the word of God.

But, Aaron and everyone else saw that Moses face was radiant, shining like the sun. Apparently, Moses couldn’t tell this himself, so after he tells them what God has said, Moses puts a veil on his face to keep from scaring everyone half-to-death. Which is why whenever anyone encounters an angel in the Bible, usually the first words spoken to that person are “Don’t be afraid!” There must be something about people and angels glowing like the sun that is rather disturbing, to say the least.

So, that’s the backstory behind our reading from 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:6 today. Paul is referring to this incident where Moses wears a veil to hide the glory of God. But then Paul turns the image around to use the metaphor of a veil as that which can in itself keep us from seeing God’s glory.

How Do We See The Light of God’s Glory?
Our question today is then, How do we see the light of God’s glory? Well, between these three passages, we can find some answers.

First, we see the glory of God by being in the presence of God. It was only when Moses was in God’s presence that his face shone like the sun. Moses left the people to spend time with God, and when he returned, his countenance glowed and radiated brilliantly. It is only as we spend time with God that we can see, or hope to see, God’s glory.

But, what is God’s glory? Well, in the Bible, the glory of God is usually represented as the dazzling bright light. So, we have Moses’ face shining, and Jesus face and clothes being transformed into a radiant presence. But the word “glory” itself, actually has the idea of “weight” or significance or an imposing presence. So, glory, especially God’s glory, isn’t just light. The light is the expression of the glory, the announcement that God is present, the translation of God’s magnificent presence into something we humans can understand.

But, back to the glory of God. So, first if you want to see the light of God’s glory, you have to be in God’s presence. You’re not going to see the glory of God if you never are in the presence of God. I know that God does sometimes intervene, as he did to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, but in the sense that Jesus and Paul both talk about the glory of God, and in the sense in which Moses experiences that glory, you have to be in God’s presence.

But, the point of being in God’s presence isn’t for us to get all shiny. Moses apparently didn’t even know he was shining. The point is to be with God; the shining is for the benefit of others. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Secondly, to see the light of God’s glory, we have to understand that we’re only a reflection of God, we don’t glow on our own. As soon as Aaron pointed out to Moses that he was glowing, Moses knew immediately where the glow came from. Moses simply reflected the presence of God to the people. Which is why, I think, that as Moses speaks to the people, he doesn’t put on the veil. He wants them to know that these are the words of God, that he has been with God, and that God is speaking to them. It’s only for the daily routine of living life that Moses wears the veil so everyone will not be completely distracted.

Like the moon reflects the sun, we don’t generate our own razzle-dazzle. We only reflect the glory of God, and we may not even be aware that we’re reflecting God’s glory, but others will be.

Third, we see the glory of God as God goes about his work of calling people into his plan for all creation. In the desert with the Israelites, God speaks through Moses and allows the nation to see his reflected glory so they will know Moses has indeed been speaking with their God, the God who has made covenant with Israel. If you want to see the glory of God, you’ve got to be part of God’s new people, of the community God is creating to reconcile all things to himself.

Peter, James, and John get to see God’s glory, not because they are Jews, but because they are the first of this new community of the Spirit which God is creating. Many biblical scholars believe that the 12 disciples symbolized the 12 tribes of Israel made new, and that Jesus was symbolically reconstituting the nation of Israel into a spiritual community, not a biological one.

As Paul writes to the church in Corinth in our passage for today, he addresses another community of believers. The Corinthians are one of the first churches to be almost exclusively non-Jewish and formerly pagan. So, you can expect that they would have a lot of problems, and they do. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes to correct errors in their worship and their conduct. In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes to re-establish his relationship with them, a relationship that has been called into question by some “super apostles” who are challenging Paul’s standing as an apostle. So, Paul writes to persuade the Corinthians that as a community they must remain faithful to God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

So, those are three keys to seeing the glory of God —
1. Be in the presence of God
2. Recognize that we reflect God’s glory, not our own
3. Be part of a community in which God has established a relationship

The Problems of Seeing The Light of Glory
But, there are problems we can encounter, because obviously seeing the light of God’s glory isn’t just an everyday experience. There are things we need to understand.

First, Paul uses the story of Moses’ veil to make a point. At first, Moses used the veil to conceal the glory of God. But then, the glory fades, but because of the veil, no one notices.

We can get so attached to the veils that make us comfortable in the presence of God, that we focus on the veil, and not the glory. And that’s true of both the leaders and those who follow. The veil that once gave us some relief, now keeps us from seeing that God isn’t with us anymore, that we’ve lost that intimate relationship with Him, and we no longer stand in his reflected glory.

Let me give you an example. Coming to church is a kind of veil. Of course, its a good thing to come to church because this is where the gathered people of God meet God together. But, if we’re not careful, coming to church becomes just coming to church. We can forget that the purpose is to meet God here, and so we can show up, greet each other, comment on how great or not-so-great the service was, and all of that can keep us from seeing the glory of God, because we can’t see past the veil itself.

But the answer isn’t that we quit coming to church. Of course, you expected me to say that. And, that is a popular approach today. Many are saying that what’s wrong with Christianity is the church, and if we can get rid of the church then Christianity will flourish again.

Of course, people have been saying that for about 2,000 years, and it is simply the wrong approach. They’re looking at the veil and not seeing past it.

What needs to happen is for God’s people to spend time in his presence, reflect his glory, and gather as his community. But how will we know if we are reflecting the glory of God?

Others will see it, just like others saw the glory in Moses face, just like Peter, James and John saw the radiance in Jesus’ face. Others will see it and be moved by it.

Iris Dement is one of my favorite singer/songwriters. Iris asked her mother to sing on one of her albums the gospel song, Higher Ground. Her mother sounded about like anybody’s almost-80-year-old mother would sound singing “Higher Ground,” but I’ve got the feeling that Iris put her mother on that album because she knew her mother lived what she sang.

As a result, Iris Dement’s songs are filled with references to the Christian life she was exposed to growing up in Oklahoma with a mother who sang gospel hymns while she went about her daily chores.

In one of her new songs, titled, There’s A Whole Lotta of Heaven, the lyrics to the refrain capture what I’ve been trying to say today —

“There’s a whole lotta heaven shining in this river of tears…”

When the glory of God is reflected in our lives, so that others see it even before we’re aware of it, then there is a lot of heaven shining in this river of tears. When others see God’s glory in your life, even if you’re unaware of it shining, then they are transformed just like Aaron, the Israelites, and Peter, James and John were.

When our community sees the glory of God shining in our church in the ways we help those who need help, in the concern we have for young families and senior adults, in the programs and activities we plan for children and youth, in the leadership we give to this community, and in all the other ways that change lives, then that is when we can say with the apostle Paul —

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
–2 Cor 3:18 NIV

Podcast Advent 2: Getting Ready for the Glory

On the second Sunday of Advent the reading from Isaiah 40:1-11 promises that “the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind will together will see it.”  What is the glory of God that Isaiah promises?  Is it the razzle-dazzle of Mount Sinai, or the vision of Ezekiel when he saw the glory of God leaving Jerusalem and the Temple?  Or is the glory of God something else, something that no one had imagined before?  Here’s the link to my sermon on the second Sunday of Advent, Getting Ready for the Glory.

My podcasts are available in the iTunes Store under Podcasts> Religion & Spirituality> Christianity> Chuck Warnock, or by searching for Chuck Warnock in the iTunes Store search bar.  You can also subscribe to my podcasts via RSS feeds by going to my podcast site, Chuck Warnock Podcasts.

Sermon for Sunday, Feb 3, 2008 — Going Up To Glory

This is the sermon I’m preaching tomorrow, Februay 3, 2008, on Transfiguration Sunday.  I hope yours is a wonderful day with God’s people!

Going Up To Glory

Exodus 24:12-18 NIV

12 The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction.”

13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”

15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Matthew 17:1-9

1After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

6When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 8When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

9As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Immortality in the Movies

In 1985, a charming movie directed by Ron Howard — remember Opie on The Andy Griffith Show? — premiered. The movie was Cocoon, and the cast included veterans of stage and screen such as Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, Wilford Brimley, and Maureen Stapleton. The story line was simple: Aliens led by Brian Denehy, returned to earth to retrieve some of their friends who were encased in “cocoons” beneath the ocean. The aliens made the mistake of temporarily stashing their cocooned friends in a swimming pool located near a retirement home. Several of the male retirees made it a regular habit to break into the pool for a swim. Only one day they encounter a pool full of barnacle-encrusted giant easter-egg-like cocoons. Undaunted the group swims anyway, only to discover the next day that they are youthful and vigorous again. I said the storyline was simple, not believable.

Anyway, the movie is really about the quest for immortality, because the aliens offer all the senior citizens who want to go, a trip to their planet where everyone lives forever. Of course, if they choose to live forever, they have to leave friends and family. And, there’s the rub. Some go, some don’t, some think they will go, then change their minds. The movie was a very clever device for addressing the desire humans have for immortality.

But, that’s not my point. I’m telling you the storyline, so I can tell you this one tiny part. Steve Gutenberg is the young captain of a small fishing boat, rented by the aliens to go out to sea to retrieve the cocoons. Brian Denehy is the head alien, only he looks just like, well, Brian Denehy. No big oval head with almond-shaped eyes on skinny legs. No sir, Brian Denehy is an all-American alien, or at least that’s what we think for a while. Also on board, and helping Brian-the-alien with the retrieval of the cocoons was a beautiful young woman, who also appeared very normal. One day she goes below to change out of her diving gear, and young Mr. Steve Gutenberg peeks in the window. Much to his surprise, not only does she unzip her wet suit, she unzips her entire outer layer of skin, and takes it off like an overcoat on a hot day! Under that human-body-mask, is a creature of light, with an almost human form, but glowing like a star in the sky. Of course, Gutenberg almost faints, and there the story takes off.

When We Think of God’s Glory We Think of Light

Now, I realize I took the long way around to make a very small point, so let me make it. Today, despite what the media says about this Sunday, today is Transfiguration Sunday. We read the passage from Matthew’s gospel about the transfiguration of Jesus, and we have just read the Old Testament precursor to Matthew, the story of Moses going up to the glory of God on Mt. Sinai. Just about every time in the Bible when we encounter the glory of God, we get a picture of blazing light, of luminous presence, of consuming fire. We don’t have time this morning to look at all those places, but you know the stories –

  • The story of creation, where God says, Let there be light, on the very first day.
  • The story of God appearing to Moses in the burning bush. God says it’s holy ground.
  • The story of God appearing to guide the nation of Israel as a cloud by day, and fire by night.
  • The story of God validating the tabernacle, and ultimately the temple, by resting his shekinah glory — the luminous, awesome, visible glory that is God’s — over those structures.
  • The story of God responding to Elijah’s call for consuming fire on the altar, prophets of Baal, and barrel-loads of water, and God does it.
  • The story of Elijah being taken in the chariot of fire into heaven, bypassing death on the way.
  • The story of angels who appear in blazing light to shepherds who are “sore afraid” in King James language.
  • The story John tells of the Light which came into the world who lights all who are in the world.
  • The story of Paul being blinded by the light of God, until his eyes are opened to the truth of God.
  • The story of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, and of God as the light of the city, where there is no need of the sun by day, or the moon by night, for God is its Light.

The glory of God as light comes at us from all directions in both Old and New Testaments. Vladimir Lossky expresses the theology of the Orthodox Church when he says –

In the mystical theology of the Eastern Church, these expressions (of God as light) are not used as metaphors or as figure of speech, but as expressions for a real aspect of the Godhead. If God is called Light, it is because He cannot remain foreign to our experience.

Orthodox folks take this business of God is Light very seriously, and so should we. But, Orthodox Christians are not the only ones to take God is Light to heart. Fifteen-hundred years ago, as Patrick took Christianity to Ireland, the emerging Celtic Christian church believed that the Light of God was evident not only in the Bible, but also in creation. Listen to this ancient poem about the birth of Jesus and the response of all creation –

This is the long night…

It will snow and it will drift…

White snow there will be till day…

White moon there will be till morn…

This night is the eve of the Great Nativity…

This night is born Mary Virgin’s Son,…

This night is born Jesus, Son of the King of glory…

This night is born to us the root of our joy…

This night gleamed the sun of the mountains high…

This night gleamed sea and shore together…

This night was born Christ the King of greatness…

Ere it was heard that the Glory was come…

Heard was the wave upon the strand…

Ere ’twas heard that His foot had reached the earth…

Heard was the song of the angels glorious…

This night is the long night…

Glowed to Him wood and tree…

Glowed to Him mount and sea,

Glowed to Him land and plain,

When that His foot was come to earth.

The Book of Creation, J. Philip Newell, pg 12-13

So, not only does Jesus bring the glory of God to earth, but all creation responds by “glowing” God’s light back to God. The Celtic Christians believed that the Light of God infused all of creation, and that light would respond to God’s presence by glowing back to God in return.

Moses, Elijah, and Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration

Which brings us back to our story. Peter, James, and John have accompanied Jesus up the mountain where something wonderfully miraculous happens. As they watch, Jesus is transfigured — changed into something they have never before seen — into a glowing, radiant Light. If that weren’t enough, Moses and Elijah appear alongside Jesus and talk with Him about the future. Moses is glowing, Elijah is glowing, Jesus is glowing — radiantly white, pouring light from their clothes, their faces, their hands, their arms, light floods from all around them.

And God speaks. Again. The same words God spoke at Jesus’ baptism — “This is my Son, the Beloved, with him I am well pleased: listen to Him!” With that, the disciples who are looking at this display of light, fall on their faces overcome by fear. Not surprising, because we would probably do the same.

Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. All who have seen the glory of God, face-to-face, in person. Moses and Elijah both were called friends of God. Moses the lawgiver, who ascends Mt. Sinai to receive from God the Law of God. That Law will distinguish God’s people from all other people on the earth. Moses has stood in the presence of God, closer than any person ever stood; so close that his own faced glowed with radiant light. That glow of God so disturbed the nation of Israel that Moses had to put a veil on his face to keep from scaring the people of God.

Elijah, the prophet of God, representing all the prophets of God. Elijah who has seen God’s provision for a widow and her son, and God’s judgment on a king and kingdom that worshipped false gods. Elijah, so profoundly in tune with God that God sends a chariot of fire, pulled by horses of flame to carry Elijah in their whirlwind to heaven.

Jesus, who himself has stepped out of the throne room of heaven down to earth, and who has cloaked himself in the form of a man, masking His own glory to all the world.

Except on this day, this day we call the day of transfiguration that glory is no longer masked. Now some folks think that the miracle was that Jesus glowed radiantly like the sun that day. And that Moses and Elijah were also luminous with the glory of God all over them.  But I’m not so sure. 

As a kid, did you ever catch lightning bugs? Some people call them fireflies, but in Columbus, Georgia, all the 10-year old boys I knew called them lightning bugs. You could catch them in a jar and watch them for hours.  But without fail, if you were a 10-year old boy, you had to hold one for yourself. And, sometimes if you held one too tightly, or grabbed one out of the air too quickly, your lighting bug met his untimely end. All you were left with was a glowing streak of lightning bug juice on your hand. Well, imagine that all over your body, then multiply by about 1,000, and you have the idea that most folks have of what happened on the mountain that day to Jesus and Moses and Elijah.

But, I think the miracle is what happened to Peter, James, and John. I believe that it wasn’t Jesus who was transfigured before them so much as it was the change that came to those three disciples. And for the first time since they had followed him, they saw his glory. “Glory,” John would later say, “as of the only begotten Son of God.” I think what happened that day wasn’t that Jesus was changed, but that Peter, James, and John were. Listen to Vladimir Lossky again –

The Transfiguration was not a phenomenon circumscribed in time and space; Christ underwent no change at that moment, even in His human nature, but a change occurred in the awareness of the apostles, who for a time received the power to see their Master as He was, resplendent in the eternal light of His Godhead. — The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, Vladimir Lossky, pg 223.

The Light of God’s Glory Changes Us

From that time, Peter, James, and John were not the same. They had seen the glory of God and they were changed because of it. Not perfect, but changed. No longer was following Jesus just about wondering how he did miracles, or how the healed the sick, or even how he reimagined the Law of Moses for the people of God. From that day forward, these disciples knew that Jesus was on a mission, a mission to bring the kingdom of God to the people of God.  A mission to make all things new. 

A mission in which the shekinah glory of God no longer rested over the Temple, but on their Teacher. A mission that encompassed the Law and the Prophets, not just a populist revolt. So, they were changed by the glory of God, just as Moses had been changed, and just as Elijah had been changed.

A very sweet, yet powerful story is found in The Revelations of St. Seraphim of Sarov, written in the early 1800s, only a couple of hundred years ago. This Russian story was recorded by Seraphim’s student, who was with Seraphim one morning.

The student said to the monk Seraphim, “I don’t understand how one can be certain of being in the Spirit of God. How should I recognize this should it happen to me?”

Seraphim patiently reiterated the lessons he had already taught this disciple, only to have the student reply, “I must understand better everything you have said to me.”

To which Seraphim replied, “My friend, we are both in the Spirit now…Why won’t you look at me?”

“I can’t look at you, Father,” he replied, “your eyes shine like lightning; your face has become more dazzling that the sun, and it hurts my eyes to look at you.”

Seraphim said, “Don’t be afraid, at this very moment you’ve become as bright as I have. You are also in the fullness of the Spirit.”

Listen to what this disciple, this student monk, wrote then, in his own words,

Encouraged by his words, I looked and was seized by holy fear. Imagine in the middle of the sun, dazzling in the brilliance of its noontide rays, the face of the man who is speaking to you. You can see the movements of his lips, the changing expression of his eyes, you can hear his voice, you can feel his hands holding you by the shoulders, but you can see neither his hands nor his body — nothing except the blaze of light which shines around, lighting up with its brilliance the snow-covered meadow, and the snowflakes continue to fall unceasingly. — The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church, pg 227-8

C. S. Lewis in his book, The Weight of Glory, said, –

For if we take the imagery of Scripture seriously, if we believe that God will one day give us the Morning Star and cause us to put on the splendour of the sun, then we may surmise that both the ancient myths and the modern poetry, so false as history, may be very near the truth as prophesy. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door…We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in. When human souls have become as perfect in voluntary obedience, then they will put on its glory, or rather that greater glory of which Nature is on the first sketch.

The Weight of Glory, pg 43.

God’s glory changes us. It changed Moses on Mt. Sinai. It changed Elijah on Mt. Carmel. It changed Peter, James, and John on Mt. Tabor. No, we do not need to build tabernacles to the glory of God. God has already built his own. We see God’s glory in creation, if our eyes are open. We see God’s glory in His Word, if our spirits are open. We see God’s glory in others, if our hearts are open. And the glory we see changes us, so that one day that same glory may rest on us, revealing the Light of God that has long lived in our hearts, eager to be released to a world of darkness.

The little children’s song had it right,

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

This little light of mine,

I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine,

Let it shine,

Let it shine.