Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Letter to Our House Church

from Stillsong Hermitage website
Greetings, Family of Hope loved ones,

I was so looking forward to studying this Sunday's texts (Exodus 34:29-35, Psalm 99,  2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2, Luke 9:28-43) with you at our 4 pm service. They are rich in insight into what we might experience in peak, mountaintop times in our faith, but also in what we need of God's "glory" and presence in everyday living.

Unfortunately, Alma Jean and I have both come down with a miserable cold, sore throat and cough we must have gotten from our grandtwins in Rochester this past week, so I'm afraid we, with much regret, won't be able to be there. If ever there were any germs in or on either of these 19-month-olds, we made many up close and personal contacts with them last week, and now we want to be sure we don't share those same bugs with others.

In studying today's passages, I was struck with how we all experience both a God of mystery, way beyond our knowing, and a God of history, within our means of somewhat understanding and knowing, since we believe God has chosen to enter history through the human lives and voices of the prophets and especially in the divine/human work and voice of Jesus. So to experience more of God, we must, like the three disciples in the Luke passage, walk with, observe and listen to, Jesus, (and not get dulled and drowsy, as the three did in the Luke passages!). In this way we believe we can know God more fully and truly as the one who lives among us, and who brings both healing and hard words of truth we so much need to hear and heed.

Otherwise, we will tragically live in this world of history and miss out on how God is directing and moving the story toward shalom and harmony as God intended from the beginning. Being distracted and "so earthly minded that we are of no earthly good," we risk being unaware of what it means to be an active citizen of God's new and forever reign in a celebrative, faithful and difference-making way in the here and now.

In addition to the realms of mystery and history there are also recorded instances in scripture of an intersection between the God of unimaginable glory and the God of everyday story that is a little like the meeting of a massive warm front with a cold front. Weatherwise, that is often characterized by storm and turbulence, wind and lightening, cloud and darkness, as when God's awesome glory and dazzling light envelope Moses on Sinai mountain (in Exodus), or when Jesus' disciples encounter Jesus, Moses and Elijah on the Tabor mount of transfiguration (Luke). These are those peak times in our experience when there seems to be only a thin veil between the God realm of mystery and the one we inhabit here in everyday life.

In the II Corinthians 3 passage, if one were to begin the reading earlier, at verse 7, we would find the word "glory" used a total of 14 times. What I need, what all of us need is to reflect and radiate God's pure and powerful light in all of the the dark places both within us and around us. This passage became very powerful to me in a transformative point in my life as a pastor some years ago, when I felt especially depleted and demoralized in my faith and in my work. When I read, as if for the first time, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (or liberty)", and the words "with unveiled face, we are being changed from one degree of glory to another," all heaven seemed to break loose for me there alone in my study. The passage remains an especially important one to me today.

May God bless each of you with a fresh encounter with the God of glory, mystery and history today. We'll be with with you in spirit.

Love and prayers, Harvey and Alma Jean
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