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Pastor at Resurrection Anglican Fellowship in Greenwood Village, CO

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Easter 5 - New Every Morning

 5th Sunday of Easter
May 15, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

NEW EVERY MORNING

 

This sermon may be more appropriate for Lent -  or at least it has its roots in our Lenten disciplines of coming to God through Jesus in repentance and prayer.

I was blessed to be given a seat at the table with some friends this past Wednesday at the Colorado Prayer Luncheon and an old friend was the speaker, Pastor Robert Gelinas from Colorado Community Church, Aurora.  Robert and I were youth pastors at the same time, he at 1st Pres in Golden and I at Christ Episcopal Church, Denver.  Today the work he does is large and it richly blesses the city and the area.

He spoke, of course, on prayer!  What a novel idea for a prayer luncheon!!  He turned our attention to a simple prayer, that we know well, from our Morning Prayer and our Eucharistic Offices that says simply:

"Lord, have mercy!

Christ, have mercy!

Lord, have mercy!"

You’ve heard of the 8-word prayer:  “O God! O God! O God! O God!”

This is the 9-word prayer!

 

He talked about driving and praying on Colfax from east to west.  Something I’ve had the occasion to do as well, with groups and individually a few times.  He urged everyone there, and the Colorado Convention Center was full to the brim, to pray that 9-word prayer over the streets of our city “as we go.”

Lord, have mercy!   Christ, have mercy!  Lord, have mercy!

 

This morning I want to explore a bit, the mercy of God. Some of our favorite scriptures and favorite songs are about this subject.  One of mine is actually both – a couple of mine in fact!  What a surprise, I know!

 

“ He hath shown thee, O Man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee:  But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God!”

 

“The steadfast love of The Lord never ceases;  His mercies never come to an end; They are new every morning, new every morning, Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord!  Great is Thy faithfulness!”

 

If I could just leave you with those two songs rolling around in your brain this week, my job would be done here!  But wait there’s more!

The words “mercy, mercies, or merciful” show up over 200 times in the Bible!  Here is a brief survey:

The place where God’s presence rests in the Tabernacle is called…
The MERCY Seat – it is the top of the Ark of the Covenant.  It is the place where Jesus, after the resurrection, brought the offering of His own blood to pour out for the sin of the world!  Once for all, in obedience to the Father:  on The Mercy Seat.

The Lord God begins to reveal this to Moses on the mountain, as He passes by:

Exodus 34:6

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

And this self description by God is then repeated over and over and over again throughout the Old Testament:

Nehemiah, chapter 9;  Psalms 86, 103, and 145; Joel 2; and Jonah 4.

 

The hymn of Jeremiah in Lamentations 3, that we sang a moment ago:

Lamentations 3:21-23

21 But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 

The mercies of God are the motivation for our self-presentation as living sacrifices in Romans 12:1;  our awareness of God’s mercies to us, both individually and corporately, form the basis of our becoming “living sacrifices” – worshipping God genuinely and whole heartedly, which Paul then calls our “reasonable service of worship.”

 

JB Phillips translates those verses this way…

12 1-2 With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.

 

Mercy is the stuff of the prayer that Jesus pointed his disciples to as a model of repentance from the publican (the tax collector) vs. the prayer of the “righteous” Pharisee:  We call it “The Jesus Prayer.”

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

 

And as I pointed out in my first song, it is what I call God’s TRIFECTA:

Micah 6:8  “He has shown you, O Man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you:  But to do justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”

Justice / Mercy / Humility

 

Does what we do today have these three marks?  Because these marks are the marks of the People of God – they form the stuff of the fragrance – the incense of His presence – in the world!

Paul tells us that we are to spread the fragrance of His Victory, and this is what it smells like!  How would people in the world respond to that fragrance, when they are used to harsh judgement and condemnation from Christians.

a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

How can we show people this God?

Jesus said it, in our Gospel reading this morning:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

The mercies of God are the outworking of His nature, which is Holy Love.  Holiness absolute to the degree that He had to cover Moses eyes because he would not have been able to survive seeing!  Love great enough that He had to show Himself, and eventually came to speak to Moses, face to face, as a friend of God.

 

The Mercy of God is captured in the Blessing of Aaron that we say or sing every week.  The Lord … “MAKE HIS FACE SHINE UPON YOU, BE GRACIOUS TO YOU.  THE LORD LIFT HIS FACE TOWARD YOU, AND GIVE YOU PEACE.”

Have you ever lifted a son or daughter above your head?  Sometimes you throw them into the air and catch them over your head!  Think about what the Lord is saying here:   The Lord LIFT HIS FACE TOWARD YOU.  Where are you in that picture?  If God’s face is lifted toward you, He is below you.  He has picked you up and is tossing you into the air.  It is the most joyful and intimate moment that a parent can have with their child!

This is the picture I want to leave you with this morning.  God loves you radically.  Mercy is His DNA!  He cannot do otherwise!

 

If you have a God-image that is something else – anything else – then you need to study this message over and over and over again.  Get God’s Mercy into YOUR DNA!  Marinate in God’s MERCY –

 

a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

Pray with me:

Lord, Have Mercy!  
Christ, have mercy!   Lord, have mercy!

Look mercifully, O Father, on our infirmities; and, for the glory of your Name, rescue us from all those evils we now endure; and grant that in all our troubles we may put our whole trust and confidence in your mercy, serving you in holiness and purity of life, to your honor and glory; through our only Mediator and Advocate, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Sung:

Holy God,

Holy and Mighty,

Holy Immortal One,

Have mercy upon us.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Easter 2 - WHO MOVED THE STONE?

 EASTER 2
April 24, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

Who Moved the Stone?

 

Can you imagine being in the Disciples’ shoes that first day?  Our readings are filled with activity for them and for us!

First thing in the morning, the women go to the tomb and find it empty.  They run back but Mary lingers and “runs into” Jesus.  Mistaking Him for the gardener she begs him to reveal where they have taken Jesus!  Resurrection was certainly not on their radar?

The women carry the news back to the disciples and are laughed out of the room.  But Peter and John run to the tomb (no doubt or confusion as to where it is) to see the grave clothes empty and the head piece folded neatly and set apart from the shroud Jesus was wrapped in.

Meanwhile two disciples (not part of the Eleven who are locked in the Upper Room), encounter a stranger on the road to Emmaus who tells them all about the things that have been going on and explains it all from the Torah and the Prophetic Writings!  Then when they sit down to eat, he breaks the bread and they realize it was Jesus all along!  And He disappears as they are eating with him.   Heart Burn!!  They run the seven or so miles back to the Upper Room and burst in with the news … AGAIN … that Jesus is alive!

Just then… our reading this morning!

Jesus shows up in the locked room.  “PEACE BE WITH YOU”  -  I imagine they were scared out of their wits!  They have no frame of reference for this, even though he told them several times that this was going to happen.

[  Val told me about a comic strip of the conversation between Pilate and Joseph of Arimathea about the Body of Jesus:

Pilate: So let me get this straight, You, one of the richest men in Jerusalem, with a brand new tomb, want the body of this Jesus character, and you’re going to give him your new tomb!  I don’t get it.

Joseph:  Oh, don’t worry about it … it’s only for the weekend!]

Now the disciples are totally undone!  Here stands Jesus!  Can you imagine Peter’s reaction?  From silence in the corner, very uncharacteristic for Peter, to (how does he later describe it?) as “Joy unspeakable or inexpressible and full of glory.”  1 Pet 1:8

 And if you read that full verse in context it says almost the same thing as Jesus tells Thomas here, word for word!  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,    Where do you think that all came from?

It came from this scene in the Upper Room on the first night of the Resurrection appearances of Jesus!


Friends,

The Resurrection changes everything!  It’s not just a cool story that is the fairy tale ending of a horrible predicament!  Tale of terrible suffering that ends in triumph!   It’s not JUST A TALE – it’s not a fable or what do the liberals call it – oh yes :  A MYTH!

This is no MYTH!   No nursery rhyme with a neat ending.

 

This is A Creation-Altering FACT.

 

A week ago last night Jacob did a masterful job of laying out the arguments over the ages for a dead Jesus. But they all FAIL because of THE FACTS.

Never mind the Eye Witness testimony of people who saw Him die, dead and buried, then alive, speaking, walking, eating, teaching.
Eye witnesses,(the pinnacle of courtroom testimony) many of whom were still alive at the writing of the Gospel accounts! 
And very able to immediately speak up and say, “NOT SO FAST THERE!”

 

Never mind the Disciples themselves who were one minute cowering in the upper room corner for fear that they were going to be next on the Jewish leaders’ list!  And the next minute, they’re standing in the open Temple Square proclaiming a Risen Jesus, whom they must Proclaim and Obey over the temple authorities and Romans.  On pain of imprisonment and beating.  How do you explain that?

 

And what about the soldiers?

1)    Roman’s don’t sleep on duty – they die if they do!

2)    Disciples who are fearing for their lives don’t move rocks and steal bodies – not these anyway! 

3)    So … WHO MOVED THE STONE?  Just Google that question!!  I dare you.

 

And finally, what about the Body itself?  No Jesus has been found in any tomb… EVER. 

WHY?

ALLELUIA !!  ALLELUIA!   THE LORD IS RISEN.

THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED.  ALLELUIA!   ALLELUIA!!

 

The Lord is Risen … Indeed!  In Truth and in the flesh!   He was raised Bodily from the dead!  He cooked and ate fish and bread, and they were able to touch His wounds.

For 40 days in all kinds of places and with all numbers of people Jesus appeared alive and well.  Can we say that this was the Disciples’ A HA MOMENT?

I’d love to say FINALLY, they got it!

But not really.  On the morning of His Ascension, they were still questioning him about his plans to overthrow Rome and set up His own Kingdom!  They never REALLY got it until they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit Himself on Pentecost!

The period from the Ascension to Pentecost – what we call the “Ten Days Together in the Upper Room” followed by the Day of Pentecost had to be the most soul searching, prayerful, desperate days of anticipation and questioning. 

Ask …   Seek …   Knock!  God will give you the gift of the Holy Spirit;  the gift My Father promised; the Well springing up within you!

Can you imagine? 

40 days with Jesus … alive in your midst.  Walking, teaching, one-on-one time, Thomas’s “come-to-Jesus meeting”.  “MY LORD AND MY GOD!”

Blessed are those who have not seen yet they believe!

 

That’s us friends.

The proofs, the reasonableness of the FACTS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, are in my mind irrefutable to the rational mind and to faith (even faith as small as a mustard seed, like Jesus said.)

Paul tells us that this belief:  That Jesus was risen from the dead is at the absolute center of our salvation and that our confession of this belief with our mouth is equally central to our salvation. 

THE LORD IS RISEN!        THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED!!  

Did anyone here have to cross your fingers when you said that second part?

If so… Google “whomovedthestone?” and read about it in detail.  Book has been around since 1930!

AND SO…

If you can answer:  The LORD IS RISEN INDEED and you believe it in your heart, you are “saved.”  Everyone who “calls on the Name of the Lord, will be saved.”

But if you’ve never heard this before – or you’ve heard it but like Thomas and most of the other disciples, there is still doubt… still questions in the back of your mind. IT’S OK!! Jesus did not throw Thomas away here!  Peter could not walk on the water all the way, and later denied Jesus (while they were face to face in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house!)  

Please, please, let someone know;    me or another Christian friend.  Call or text me.  Don’t just ignore your questions?   READ UP!!  FIND OUT, for your sake!

This is heaven or hell.   Answer the question:  WHO MOVED THE STONE?

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ABOUT THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST FROM THE DEAD AND IT’S MEANING FOR YOU AND FOR LIVING YOUR LIFE FROM NOW ON?

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, you have delivered us from the dominion of sin and death, and brought us into the kingdom of your beloved Son: Grant that, as by his death he has called us to life, so by his love he may raise us to eternal joys; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Palm Sunday - Going the Distance (from Hosanna to "Crucify Him")

 Palm Sunday
April 10, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

Going the Distance


Welcome to Palm Sunday and Holy Week this week.  Lot’s going on in the service this morning, so this will be a bit shorter.

 

I want to consider for a few moments the distance from Palm Sunday to Good Friday!  Already in today’s service we’ve experienced that shift from Hosanna, Lord!  To  “Crucify Him!”  Crucify Him!!”

It’s a pretty stark contrast in one morning … or one week!

I guess it speaks of the nature of our flesh and of the nature of our devotion.

 

I was at a retreat during my college days at ORU and we were in the Ozark mountains over by Eureka Springs, ARK at a retreat center that was perched on a mountain top at the head of this long valley that stretched off to the north of us.  That morning at 6 am I took some coffee and went out on the back porch only to find the whole valley view shrouded in fog.  I sat down with my coffee and bible and opened to Hosea, the prophet of Israel who acted out his prophecy – by marrying a prostitute.

As I read the story I came to chapter six where we see the contrast of God’s Hesed Love – Unfailing Love and their wavering, uncertain love.  Chapter six starts out well – with God’s people saying – “Come and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. … So let us know and become personally acquainted with Him; let us press on to know and understand fully the greatness of the Lord; to honor, heed, and deeply cherish Him.

And God replys to them…

O Ephraim, what shall I do with you? 
O Judah, what shall I do with you?
For your wavering loyalty and kindness are transient,
like the morning cloud
and like the dew that goes away early.

At that moment, as I stood on the veranda overlooking this valley the cloud, chased by the rising heat of the sun that early morning, was being chased out of the valley!  And the sun coming through the surrounding trees highlighted the fog exiting the valley overhead.

“Your love is like the morning cloud and like the dew that goes early away!”

 

My friends, this Palm Sunday morning I just want to highlight the short distance from Hosanna to Crucify Him!

The truth – a hard and inconvenient truth – is that we are extremely fickle!  It’s like dew on the grass in the morning that disappears in the heat of the morning – and not very long into the morning!  The clouds that melt away with the heat of the day are a perfect picture of our kind of love for God.  His is steadfast, unfailing HESED and ours … well…

 

So this week, I once again renew the invitation we heard five weeks ago, at the head of Lent on Ash Wednesday and the first Sunday morning:

I invite you to a holy lent … a holy, HOLY WEEK!  Through fasting and prayer, through reading and meditation on the verses we’ve read and heard this morning from the Passion Gospels;  I invite you to immerse yourself – allow yourself to marinate in the week between Palm Sunday and the Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and Good Friday, His trial, betrayals, the abandonment of his friends and followers (while he was the leading “messianic” hopeful!)  Well, “so much for that idea”! 

Read the stories again and place yourself along the Via Dolorosa – where are you in the crowd?  By the way there is no good place to be – no place where you can maintain your innocence in the face of this atrocity!  The closest you can come is Jesus own mother, or the women who wept or the Cyrenian who was forced by the Romans to carry His cross for him.  Those are the best seats in the house.  No one else in the picture is innocent here.  And the cast list is long! The disciples who ran, Peter who followed yet denied him almost to his face, the soldiers, the Pharisees, Pilate, washing his hands.

The palm branches are changed into crosses.  Really, need we say more.

Join us this week as you can.

 

Thursday night at the Last Supper.

 

Friday Noon or night at the Stations of the Cross – the walk on the Via Dolorosa.

 

Saturday night in The Great Vigil – that traces the whole journey of God’s HISTORY with mankind – the entrance of the LIGHT into the darkness – the chant of the EXULTET – the stories of God’s creation and Abraham – the Jews in Egypt and the Passover – One of the most ancient services in the whole Church.

 

 

Come and See.

Go the Distance:  from Hosanna to Crucify Him – from My God, My God and It is Finished to He is Risen.

 

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Getting Over a God who Hates Me - Fr. Phil

 Lent 4

March 27, 2022
Fr. Phil Eberhart

 

GETTING OVER A GOD WHO HATES ME

 

 

Have you ever wondered if God loves you?

 

It seems like we all have those moments, when we’re “under the circumstances”, and we get low and we hear that little voice that says, “God really hates you!”  All the negative things that people have said about us or over us in our past come roaring to the front of our minds!

 

Have you ever had that experience?

 

I think its actually pretty common – given the way our world works.  Or doesn’t work … really.

 

We really want to encounter God’s love for us in some way that we can grasp onto – that we can hold close – something that’s not “somewhere, out there…” – the Bette Midler god.  God is watching us!  I want a God who is doing more than just watching from a distance!  Right?  I want a God who is involved with my life – who is paying attention to little details in my “good, bad and ugly!”

 

Our gospel this morning paints a picture of a father and two sons.  Very familiar story – we’ve studied it before in some depth – songs have been written about it:  “When God Ran!”  great song.  Sometimes I call it the Parable of the Loving Father, instead of The Prodigal Son (or Sons!)

The Love of our God for us is on display here, no matter how low we go – nor how dutiful and obedient we are!  The two sons in the story are the opposite poles of our lives!   So often we get off track, lose our way, lose sight of what God wants for our lives – we love to “do our own thing.”

Or we concentrate on doing it all “right” – on being obedient, dutiful, the Good Son or Daughter – in order to “win” God’s affection in some way.

The picture we have of these two boys pales though, when we look at the picture of The Father – The Heart of the Father that we see here!

I imagine the Father standing daily at the window looking down the lane from the house, hoping against hope to see the figure of his lost son.  And one day, finally, after years away, that son comes back – a tiny figure in the distance, but Father sees him and recognizes the walk, the height of this boy, something that sparks that memory of his son…

And he runs out of the house, tossing his cloak aside to gain speed – running down the lane to gather up this broken, filthy, how does the letter of Revelation put it:  “…wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.”  Yet, here God runs to meet us – to gather us in His arms – to restore us to the family with the new clothes and the ring for his finger!  In Revelation, Jesus says He is standing at the door knocking – we are in this state of wretchedness, pitiable, poor, blind and naked – and He wants to eat with us.

 

Do you get it?

 

Look with me for a moment at the passage from 2 Cor 5. 

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them,

Reconciling US -  Reconciling THE WORLD

 

You know the verse:   For God so …  LOVED … the world

What does it take for us to grasp the meaning of that phrase?

 

Paul asks that in the passage we read yesterday at Duane’s memorial service:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

 

Paul goes on:

The real fact is this:

34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There’s a lot there!

And when we mix it in with the picture of God we see in our Gospel this morning, it’s a really powerful mix!

 

Does this sound like GOOD NEWS to you?  Do you think you know anyone for whom it might be GOOD NEWS as well?  How about everyone?

God so loved who?  THE WORLD.

And here is the hook!  When you know this, you’re on the hook to TELL THE STORY!

14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[b] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.

“We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

AND THE CAPSTONE:  THE WHOLE STORY IN A SENTENCE…

 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

Friends,  God loves us hilariously!  No matter how small or how great we feel;  no matter what we’ve done or not done;  no matter the volume of the accusations, the name calling, or the slop we’re into!

God LOVES US – GOD LOVES YOU – PERIOD! 

 

And one small step back in the opposite direction, brings God running to scoop you up in His arms. To welcome you home, to put on a feast – to come in and eat supper with you.

Your place of exile can become your place of acceptance and belonging!

 

And friends, once we’ve experienced this kind of extravagant, hilarious love for us, how can we not share it with everyone we meet?

 

How can we not!  “the love of Christ compels us!”

 

Pray with me:

 

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross, that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace! 

So clothe us with Your Spirit, that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you, to the knowledge and love of you, for the honor of your Name!

 

Amen.

 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

2nd Sunday in Epiphany - Shining with Jesus

SECOND SUNDAY OF EPIPHANY

JAN 16, 2022

FR. PHIL EBERHART

 

SHINE !   LET JESUS SHINE!

 

 

Epiphany is about the showing forth of light – it’s about “shining!”  Last week I talked about both fragrance and light – we are being called to be both in our world, and specifically in our neighborhood.

Yesterday’s Texas standoff at a local synagogue seems to highlight the need for us to stand strong with our neighbors against antisemitism.  That is why you see an Israeli flag on our pole under the American flag.  We want our message to be clear.

 

This morning I want to talk about light … and about mirrors.

 

Jesus is the LIGHT and we are the mirror! 

 

In John’s gospel Jesus is talking to the disciples before his death, as they are walking to the Garden of Gesthemane in fact.  As they walk through the local vineyards on the hillside east across the Kidron Valley from the Temple mount in Jerusalem, Jesus is pointing out a reality they are all familiar with.  Vines and branches; grapes and wine.

In Jn 15 we speaks to our need for intimate attachment – Jesus calls it “abiding in the vine.”  I want to make His point here this morning, when He said “apart from Me you can do nothing!”

The effectiveness – even the usefulness – of a mirror is entirely dependent upon a couple things – its orientation (which way it’s pointed) and its clarity (is it clean?  That affects the reflection).

 

Oriented toward the Light!

 

Friends, we have to have our own faces fixed on Jesus in order to be the reflective surfaces that He needs for His ministry today to illumine the World!

Paul, in talking about this, put it this way:

2 Cor 3:18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

The Passion reads:

18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

For us, having the veil removed, actually emphasizes the fact that we are “face to face.”  Over and over throughout the Old Testament, from the Aaronic Blessing to a multitude of other references we are told that God wants to be FACE TO FACE with us – to see us for who we are and for us to see Him in His fullness and glory!

It is our position when we are Face to face with Jesus that allows us to become (be transformed or transfigured – the Greek word is “metamorphosis.”)  Our transformation is preceded by our being trans-fixed by his glory!  John said it in one of his later letters:

1 Jn 3:3 Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.[a] The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him.[b] Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it[c] is finally made visible,[d] we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying[e] themselves,[f] just as Jesus is pure.[g]

There’s gonna be a lot of shinin’ goin’ on!  And that is just the plan.

This is all part of the Master’s Masterplan!  When you heard that God has a “wonderful plan for your life” – this is it!  WE WILL BE JUST LIKE HIM!

Any mirror that reflects, will reflect perfectly what it “sees.”  What it is oriented towards it reflects in all its glory.  So let us orient our lives so that we are “face to face” with Jesus!

 

But that “perfect reflection” is also based on purity!  How clean is your mirror?  If the mirror has spots on it or dirt or fingerprints it cannot do its appointed job!  Likewise, our lives are only a clear reflection of Jesus when our character – when our mirror – is clean – pure.

 

Now you need to know that I’m not trying to send you on a “sin hunt.”  BUT  when you notice spots or grime on the mirror, it’s a good thing to do some cleansing work.  Are there things in your life that seem to be getting in the way of a clear reflection of Jesus to others?  Fear?  Personal habits?  Sinful behaviors? 

 

There is another place that talks about a mirror in Scripture.  James tells us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.  We talk a lot about The Hand illustration – Hear, Read, Mark, Learn and Inwardly Digest!  But all of those are of no value if they don’t sink down into our Heart, out to our Hands and down to our Feet!

James 1:21-25

21 So this is why we abandon everything morally impure[q] and all forms of

 wicked conduct.[r] Instead, with a sensitive spirit[s] we absorb God’s Word, 

which has been implanted within our nature, for the Word of Life has power to 

continually deliver us.[t]

22 Don’t just listen to the Word of Truth and not respond to it, for that is the essence of self-deception. So always let his Word become like poetry written and fulfilled by your life![u]

23 If you listen to the Word and don’t live out the message you hear, you become like the person who looks in the mirror of the Word to discover the reflection of his face in the beginning.[v] 24 You perceive how God sees you in the mirror of the Word,[w] but then you go out and forget[x] your divine origin. 25 But those who set their gaze deeply into the perfecting law of liberty[y] are fascinated by and respond to the truth they hear and are strengthened by it—they experience God’s blessing in all that they do![z]

In the very next verse James goes on to warn his hearers that

26 If someone believes they have a relationship with God but fails to guard his words then his heart is drifting away and his religion is shallow and empty.

 

Our culture in America for a long time has approached faith as a kind of “hobby.”  Now it has become a matter of life or death, -- of eternal life and eternal death, for us and for others!

 

Friends, if we are the reflection of Jesus in the world, as He said in
Matt 5:17 it may be time for us to do a “reflection check.” 

Jesus is the Light of the World.  We all believe that.  But it’s another step to understand that His light is only reflected to the world through our actions.

Jesus said it best as I referenced a moment ago:

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good words and give glory to your Father, who is in heaven.”

The source of our transformation comes from Christ’s glory, and the destination we are brought to is more glory. The transforming glory is the result of gazing upon the beauty and splendor of Jesus Christ.  We become transfixed by His glory and then are transformed/transfigured into His image by that glory.

I’m reminded of an old song that we sang over Val’s mom as she went to be with Jesus – her sisters were with her mom and we were on the phone on her pillow that night singing this song:

 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth
will grow strangely dim,
in the light of His glory and grace!”

Sing it with me…

 

 

 

Let’s pray together as we did last week:

 

87. For Participation in the Peace of God  (BCP 2019, P. 672)

In the Tradition of Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is error, truth;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may seek
not so much to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.