Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Glory and Grace

Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Show me your glory, I pray. - Exodus 33:18

Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?" - John 14:8-9

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 143:1-6; 2 Kings 11; Acts 3:11-26

Today's Old Testament reading is just six words from the amazing story of Moses' walk with God. Moses prayed for God to be with the people of Israel on their journey to the Promised Land, to lead them, and to teach them God's ways. God grants that request, and when Moses asks to see God's glory, God grants that too (at least from a "rear view"). God's "goodness" is what will pass before Moses, and God adds, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." God's covenant, and the Ten Commandments that come out of Moses' encounters with God, are marked by grace and mercy.

Something like 1400 years later, God's glory, and God's grace and mercy, are revealed most fully in Jesus Christ. John's gospel in particular testifies to Jesus as the bearer of God's glory, especially in his being "lifted up" on the cross to reconcile God and humanity. In today's passage from John, Jesus confirms that to see him us to see God.

In the Acts reading, Peter also testifies that God has glorified Jesus. The ability to heal comes not "by our own power or piety," but by the name of Jesus. Faith in Jesus gives strength and healing, and the glory of God connects with human life in grace and mercy and compassion.

We may miss it because it's such a well-known theme in Christianity, but it's really amazing that is where God's glory is seen best. God could attract attention for a lot of things! But God chooses to be known as love, grace, mercy, compassion, healing, and new life. And God brings these things by pure grace, undeserved, free to everyone in need. We don't earn our way to God's gifts, or stockpile earthly glory for ourselves. But in receiving or sharing God's grace, we find God's glory freely given.

It makes me think about our human concepts of glory, as well as power, wealth, influence, prestige, and all kinds other measurements of ability or value. Life is not a war where we have to fight and defeat others to gain. God's glory and grace always go together,

Today I'm also led to pray for everyone who seeks or holds power, wealth, influence, or prestige. May we remember that true glory, as shown by the creator of the universe, is merciful and compassionate and full of grace. And may our world learn to appreciate this! May Moses' prayer, "Show me your glory," be met with God's display of mercy and grace. And may this gracious, merciful grace be reflected in our own lives.

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