“Shining For Jesus”
Pentecost 9A, Proper 13
August 6, 2017
Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99:5-9; 2 Peter 1:13-21; Luke 9:28-36.
The Word for today is “Shining”, as in ‘Shining For Jesus’. Is it possible for us to ‘Shine’ for Jesus? Every time someone comes for a birthday blessing, I pray, “May the light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ shine in and through you; and sometime, in this new year of hope and promise that lies ahead, may someone say to you, ‘what is this light that shines through you?’ And may you have the opportunity to tell them about God’s love for them, and the person of Jesus Christ.” So, what does shining mean?
Here is how Merriam-Webster defines ‘shining’: You are shining if you are emanating or reflecting light.
We are discussing Shining because of
Today’s Gospel lesson
Jesus was Transfigured. That means his appearance was given a new and exalted or spiritual appearance. Luke, whose mission was to carefully search out all the truth he could in the story of Jesus Christ says that the appearance of Jesus’ face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. And then Moses and Elijah were there talking with Jesus about his departure from earth. The three disciples, Peter, James, and John were overwhelmed by what they saw. It was an ‘out of this world’ experience.
I believe Luke got this account by the testimony of probably both Peter and John. I’m pretty certain he visited with John and Jesus’ mother Mary, so he is recounting what they experienced that day, on that mountain. Simply, the Glory of God, the nature of God who is light – that same shining light that was present in the Temple, filling the space between the top of the Ark of the Covenant and the outstretched wings of the Cherubim statues – was revealed through the skin of Jesus, whose nature is also that of God’s light.
A Collect for the day of Transfiguration contains this request from God: “Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, …” Let’s look at what it might mean for Us to
Shine With the Radiance of Christ’s Glory.
When you were a kid did you ever place a flashlight under your fingers? The Light shining through our skin seemed to light up the blood flowing through our veins so that we would see red under our skin. Likewise, the first thing I want to state is that shining for Jesus is a work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is the Spirit, shining through us, revealing the glory of Jesus Christ, which was manifested on the Mount of Transfiguration. It is this ‘glory’ from within us that shines through us. It is not our glory, but His. We can shine with his glory, or reflect his glory even as Moses’ face reflected God’s glory when he met God in the Tent of Meeting.
His baptismal scenes make it abundantly clear that Jesus’ earthly ministry began after his baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon him and drove him into the wilderness to fast and pray and be tempted. From His baptism on, God was shining through the body of Jesus through the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
We can be enthused about being a Christian and belonging to a particular denomination or church; and that enthusiasm is good and contagious. It attracts others because people want to be with others who are excited about what they are doing. But, to be illuminated by God’s Word and Sacraments to the point that we are shining with the very radiance of Christ’s glory is more than positive thinking or the excitement of a new experience or relationship. It is the work of God’s Spirit within us manifesting the person of Jesus within our own souls to the point that we begin radiating His very being through our skin – our words, actions, prayers, habits, relationships, attitudes, and how we handle life’s defeats, torments, struggles, and tribulations. When we are shinning for Jesus people see him in us, sense his presence within us and are drawn to the Jesus we manifest. We become walking sermons, living illustrations of Paul’s words that in Christ “we are new creations, the old has passed away, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Have you met people who just seem to shine for Jesus? You are drawn to them, even if you don’t understand what you are experiencing through them.
When the Holy Spirit is allowed to be active within us the fruit of the Spirit begins to manifest itself in our personality because Jesus’ personality is growing within us (Galatians 5:22). As part of that process of the Fruit of the Spirit emerging within us, the Spirit begins to convict us of the ways we are not yet like Jesus, but can be. So, we find ourselves troubled by our bad habits, prejudices, stinking thinking, pessimism, defeatism, ‘too quick to anger’ responses, inner rages, addictions we hate but control us anyway, and any other negative activity in our lives that shades the light of Christ within us and keeps us from brightly shining for Jesus.
When we ask Jesus to baptize us with the Spirit and we allow that Sprit of the living God to live within us and to actively guide us, then the Spirit begins to manifest the Lordship of Jesus Christ within our souls and we begin to grow spiritually. We begin to mature as humans, and to live with a different world-view – that we are now citizens of Heaven and pilgrims in this world.
For this transformation to take place requires that we work on our relationship with Jesus. That means we will have to spend quality time with Jesus. It will be time alone with him, time in prayer, time in prayerfully reading Scripture, time in worship, time in serving others in his name, and time hanging out with fellow Christian sisters and brothers. And, it will mean that we want others to also know the joy that is in our lives and we will want to invite them to come, taste and see, and know that the Lord, He is good (Psalm 34:8).
Do You Want To Shine For Jesus?
If you want people literally to see the glory of Jesus shining through you here are some questions to ask and steps to consider:
• Do you believe it is important for people to know there is a real God who loves them and has proved that love through the person and ministry of Jesus Christ? All of this only makes sense if we believe there is eternal value gained from having a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ. If we think it doesn’t matter then there is not a lot of motivation for inviting someone to Come and See. But, if our own life has been touched by God’s grace and we know we are a better person for having invited Jesus to come be part of our own life, then there is motivation to invite and something to testify to as a reason. In 2 Corinthian 1:3-4, St. Paul writes: 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
• Have you invited Jesus to live inside you? His glory can’t shine through you if he doesn’t live within you.
• Have you intentionally invited the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, to also live within you and be active in shaping you into a disciple of Jesus? Without the active work of the Spirit within us we cannot begin to manifest the Fruit of the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit. In his letter to the Corinthians today, St. Paul says: “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (:17); and, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price” (:19).
• When you come for Communion today take action by either asking Jesus to be your savior and live within you, or ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit so that His glory will begin to shine through you.
I am excited about Holy Cross and the future God has for us. I am proud to be your priest and to work alongside you in the Ministry of Reconciliation to which God has called us, learning to comfort others as God has comforted us, learning to say to others Come and See what God is doing in and through the people of Holy Cross. Let us shine for Jesus in all we do.
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – To the only God our savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Before all ages, now and forevermore!