Our Exodus reading is about the SECOND time Moses came down the mountain. The first time he came down after receiving the 10 commandments from God and found the people of God worshiping a golden bull. In anger, Moses broke the tablets and God declared God wouldn’t stick by these people any more. But Moses and God come to an agreement of sticking by the “stiff necked” people, and a second copy of the 10 commandments are made, and God says God will now travel WITH the people.
Our second reading occurs 8 days after Peter has declared Jesus to be the Messiah; and Jesus has told him and his disciples that if any wish to follow him they must take up their cross… not the worlds’ glory. For the Son of Man must suffer before being raised.
Have you ever had a God Moment? A moment when you experienced the presence of God? They’re really hard to describe. Often the people around us don’t even realize the moment is occurring. But we’re in a sleep, a trance, as the miracle unfolds around us.
Last winter I was in my car and I saw a man standing near the edge of the road with a sign asking for money. The driver of the truck in front of me rolled down his window and called to the man. “Hey! I’ve got a dollar and a cigarette. Want ’em?” And for a moment, while the light was red, the two shared a God moment. Smoking. Laughing. Being human.
Then the light changed, and we drove on.
I don’t know the name of either men. It wasn’t anything transcendent to either of them. But it was a glimpse of God for me.
Two strangers. Welcoming each other. Sharing a communion of sorts. Different races. Different ages. Different lives. But both made in the image of God. And their faces were shining with the joy of… companionship. Fellowship. The joy of relationships. The joy that is God.
That encounter sticks with me. So too, do thousands and thousands of others like it.
A xeno is “the smallest measurable unit of human connection, typically exchanged between passing strangers—a flirtatious glance, a sympathetic nod, a shared laugh about some odd coincidence—moments that are fleeting and random but still contain powerful emotional nutrients that can alleviate the symptoms of feeling alone.” (http://xeno.urbanup.com/6996693#.XHrUodud9B4.gmail)
Xeno comes from xenos, meaning stranger. Meaning Not Me.
It also means guest. Friend. Host.
Its the acknowledgement of the Image of God in the face of another.
And that is a God moment.
When Moses spoke with God, he was transfigured. The skin of his face shone. It glowed so much from his encounter that when he went about his daily life, he covered his face with a veil. But he unveiled himself when preaching, or praying, or worshiping. Then everyone could see how changed he was. Everyone could see him glow.
We GLOW at times.
Those two men I saw, xenos, strangers to each other, but sharing at least a xeno between them, glowed. Happy. No longer alone. Connected.
I glowed from seeing them. My face lit up. I smiled. I still smile remembering this.
A marvelous study of luminosity has found humans really DO glow. Our bodies produce energy and we have a faint glow about us from that. If we’re excited, or happy, we glow more than if we’re sad or lonely. People usually notice this in pregnant woman who have a “healthy glow.” Yes, they do! A lot more energy is going through their bodies and sensitive equipment, or eyes, can see this extra light.
Prayer, connections, relationships make us glow. Connecting with the divine make us glow.
Jesus, the Messiah, stands with Moses who represents the Laws and Elijah who represents the Prophets. Three traditions come together, connect, and Jesus begins to glow. Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of Peter, James, and John and the men see a glimpse of Jesus’ glory.
A glory, a glow, a wonder that is God’s love revealed.
From a cloud speaks God’s voice – much as it did to Moses – and the single spoken commandment is: “This is my Son, the Chosen, listen to him!”
Listen to him when he says love one another.
Listen to him when he says cure one another.
Listen to him when he says one must keep awake for the presence of God.
Listen to him when he says I must suffer, but I will rise. You must bear a cross, but you will rise.
Listen to him say we are not orphans. We are not abandoned.
Listen to him say we are his brothers and sisters, the beloved, the chosen, the redeemed Children of God.
It seems odd to me that our reading ends with a healing story. But the words Jesus says paraphrase one of the last songs of Moses when he asks how long he’ll be with the stiff necked, faithless, perverse generation he’s traveled with. For Moses doesn’t go on with them into the new land. When they reach it, he stays behind and God is said to have buried him or taken him up to heaven without dying.
And here, here is Jesus who is with our own struggling generation. And he, too, will leave us – died, or carried up into heaven.
But the people were not abandoned. God walked with them. And we are not abandoned. The Spirit of God lives within us.
Even in the worst situations, of convulsions, of cancer, of war… God is there. God is there in the connections we share, the people in the moment helping one another when even they least expect it to happen.
Our scripture says to watch for God.
We can see that light of God in all times, good and bad, on mountains and in valleys.
God doesn’t stay on the mountain away from the Israelites. Jesus doesn’t stay on the mountain away from us. And when we listen to him, we go out into the hard places to bring the light too.