For Feb. 10, 2013: the Last Sunday in Epiphany, Year C

The Reading            Exodus 34:29-35

Exodus tells of an angry Moses breaking the original tablets of the Ten Commandments on finding that, in his absence, Israel had taken to worshiping an idol. In today’s reading, Moses returns from God with a new set of tablets—and the glory of God, shining in his face, terrifies everyone.

The Response            Psalm 99

The Epistle            2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

In first-century Corinth, Paul was under attack both for his ministry and for the gospel he preached. To defend his acts, today he contrasts the old covenant, under which even Moses could not stay transformed permanently, with the new covenant in which, through Christ, we all are free to know God and to be known as we are without shame or fear.

The Gospel            Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]

 

Further thoughts

On the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent, the readings all center on the idea of transformation. The lesson of the reading from Exodus is that an encounter with the living God changes a person visibly; the point of 2 Corinthians is surely that living into the will of God day by day has as its proper result the same sort of change.

Then there are Peter and John and James, among the disciples who have been with Jesus day by day—and who, on the mountain as Jesus prays, are shocked out of their sleep-deprived minds when he not only begins to shine like Moses but is visited by Moses and Elijah into the bargain. It is easy to shake our heads at them, especially as Luke continues to tell about the demon that the disciples failed to cast out of the boy. It is easy to wonder how these benighted souls could have failed to heed the signs, what with all that exposure.

The fact is, of course, that we have the benefit of two thousand more years of scripture, two thousand years more years of hindsight, two thousand more years in which to explore appearances of God and our responses to them.

But are we any more observant about God, or any more changed by our encounters with God, than they?

When I ask that question about myself, I find that I don’t have a good answer. That’s disturbing—and, as we move into the season of Lent, I rather suspect it ought to be.

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