Tag Archives: God’s presence

Shining Brightly 3

We associate glory with something having gone well.  A triumphant occasion, something worthy of praise and adoration – something to be proud of.  For example the “glory of the cup”, or the “glory days”.

What we see here is true glory.  More in keeping with the “Glory of the Lord shone around” of the Angels appearing to the Shepherds at Jesus’ birth in Luke 2.

Luke 9:28-36

The True Glory of Jesus

28 About eight days later Jesus took Peter, John, and James with him and went up on a mountain to pray. 29 While he was praying, his face changed, and his clothes became shining white. 30 Suddenly Moses and Elijah were there speaking with him. 31 They appeared in heavenly glory and talked about all that Jesus’ death in Jerusalem would mean.

32 Peter and the other two disciples had been sound asleep. All at once they woke up and saw how glorious Jesus was. They also saw the two men who were with him.

33 Moses and Elijah were about to leave, when Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three shelters, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But Peter did not know what he was talking about.

34 While Peter was still speaking, a shadow from a cloud passed over them, and they were frightened as the cloud covered them. 35 From the cloud a voice spoke, “This is my chosen Son. Listen to what he says!”

36 After the voice had spoken, Peter, John, and James saw only Jesus. For some time they kept quiet and did not say anything about what they had seen.

It’s all about the glory.  Not glory for Jesus, Moses or Elijah, and certainly not for Peter, John and James.

Glory is the

manifestation of God’s presence

It’s about the glory of God shining through, breaking through.  The glory of God, here shining in and through the life of Jesus.  Bringing Heaven’s glory to earth as he lived and was God.

And Peter, James and John so nearly missed it.

This weeks reading seem to raise questions for me.  So, I’ll carry on!:

Are we missing God’s glory, his presence shining?  Either because we’re looking in the wrong place, focussing on the wrong thing (like building shelters instead of just taking it in), or because we’re sound asleep?

For with the glory, comes God’s confirmation again,

“This is my chosen Son. Listen to what he says!”

Just in case you missed it at his baptism, just in case you were still wondering – yes, this is my son.  He is my presence in the world.  Pay attention to him if you want to know what I think.

Quite wisely, the three disciples spend some time in quiet, thinking about what they’ve seen before they start talking.  That is never a bad plan as we encounter God in all his glory – to be quiet, be still, let his presence soak in.  To take time, for the pressures of tomorrow will soon rush in (v37-43)


how sometimes I need

to just sit

and let it all sink in.

Not to rush off,

not to say the first thing that comes into my head,

not to have to “do” anything,

but just be

in your presence,

in your glory.

To hear

and be quiet.

Shining Brightly

When we were young, apparently we could all “glow to school” if only we’d had our Ready Brek.  An encounter with Ready Brek made you so warm you were glowing all day.

Moses had a glowing experience, not from his choice of breakfast cereal, but from an encounter with God:

Exodus 34:29-35

Moses Comes Down from Mount Sinai

29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai, carrying the Ten Commandments. His face was shining brightly because the Lord had been speaking to him. But Moses did not know at first that his face was shining. 30 When Aaron and the others looked at Moses, they saw that his face was shining, and they were afraid to go near him. 31 Moses called out for Aaron and the leaders to come to him, and he spoke with them. 32 Then the rest of the people of Israel gathered around Moses, and he gave them the laws that the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.

33 The face of Moses kept shining, and after he had spoken with the people, he covered his face with a veil. 34 Moses would always remove the veil when he went into the sacred tent to speak with the Lord. And when he came out, he would tell the people everything the Lord had told him to say. 35 They could see that his face was still shining. So after he had spoken with them, he would put the veil back on and leave it on until the next time he went to speak with the Lord.

Moses had been on Mount Sinai.  He had heard from God.  And that encounter had changed him.

There are three interesting points from this story:

  • Moses was changed – but he didn’t know it.  It was the people who saw the change in him.
  • He was changed – to enable him to bring God’s message.  The people realised something important had happened by the change they saw in him – so they listened.
  • Moses’ meeting with God on the mountain wasn’t a once for all encounter – he kept on meeting with God, to hear what he wanted to say to him and the people.

I wonder if people see the difference in me when I’ve met with God?  Does it change me?

And do I keep going back?  Or expect one encounter to last a while?  Our relationship with God needs to be an ongoing one.

Does God shine in and through me day by day?

I need to take time to be in his presence, that it may be so


I come into your presence,

seeking to be changed,

longing to be different.

I come,

to allow the light of your presence

to light my life.

I come


and again

to hear your voice.

Make a difference in me


I pray

Sitting at God’s Feet – Christmas Day 4


I think those of us who watched Sister Wendy and the Art of the Gospels which was featured on Arena on Christmas Day, were all struck by her way of solitude and prayer. Spending her time alone in a caravan in a copse, praying for 7 hours a day – and doing so on an upright chair so she keeps her concentration.  She knows what it is to “keep vigil”.

And so Nouwen encourages us to,

Learn to weep, learn to keep vigil, learn to wait for the dawn. Perhaps this is what it means to be human.

But we thought the waiting was over.  Christmas has happened.

Yet we still wait. We wait to see what God is going to do, what he is going to do in us and with us.

Henri Nouwen reminds us that so often we cling to ‘things’ – people, plans, projects, events, experiences.  We hope that this time they will be different, this time they will meet our needs, scratch us where we itch – this time…

And yet ‘things ‘never do truly fulfil us.  If they do momentarily, we spend our time trying to collect more and more of them to continue to fill the space that keeps emptying.

What we should be clinging to is God – and finding our purpose and needs fulfilled in him.

Your faithful people, Lord,
will praise you with songs
and honor your holy name.
Your anger lasts a little while,
but your kindness lasts
for a lifetime.
At night we may cry,
but when morning comes
we will celebrate.

11 You have turned my sorrow
into joyful dancing.
No longer am I sad
and wearing sackcloth.
12 I thank you from my heart,
and I will never stop
singing your praises,
my Lord and my God.

In the depths of God we find peace in our fears, compassion in our greediness, and even the possibility of joy in our sorrow.  The depths of God, we find only by serious time spent with him, really with him, focussing on him, zoning out the distractions of life.  A whole new way of living and praying.  I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like something to practice into the New Year as we continue to wait for what God is going to do.

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to go to a prayer labyrinth to prepare for Christmas.  It was  a great opportunity to spend some quality time with God, and to allow God the chance to speak to me.  I found it very helpful.  So I have to ask myself why I don’t take, and indeed make, those opportunities more often.

The suggested action for today is to practice cheerfulness.  I’m not sure that doesn’t go against what Nouwen was saying.  A false cheerfulness is no help, just something else to distract us from what God is saying to us – but if we can find our joy in him, then perhaps we’ve found the place we need to be.


I come to you,

to spend time with you,

to hear your voice,

to receive your healing,

to know your love,

to feel your peace.

Help me to rest here,

to stay while you do your work,

to open myself to you, not waiting to rush away

and get on with things.

O Holy God,

I come to you

This year for Advent – and into Christmas, some friends and I are using Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen.   You’re welcome to join us on this journey.  Feel free to comment here, or on Twitter using #adventbookclub

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