Left: Broken Mirror
Right: Moses with Radiant Face (painting by José de Ribera)
Our set Scriptures for today both
the dramatic & awe inspiring presence of God in power and glory.
Moses in the OT, Peter James and John
in the NT
all find themselves confronted by the Glory of God.
The people God appears to are by
no means perfect –
Moses’ represents a people who have just build a Golden Calf
in direct rebellion against God.
Jesus has only just said to Peter “Get thee behind me Satan”
God would surely have every reason
“I have no further legal obligation to these people –
they have not kept their side of the deal -
I consign them to the outer darkness.
But in fact he does the exact opposite –
he appears in the midst of their sin and darkness
and shows the light of his glory.
The people may let go of God,
but God will not let go of them.
His faithfulness will not be shaken.
Thanks to MethAng members for the
excerpt from your musical –
come to the whole thing if you can –
its theme is “Unbreakable” and it reminds us that
even when we have turned away from God,
he still he keeps faith with us.
But with God’s covenant promise
comes a challenge, a demand,–
as we receive the glory of the Lord,
so we are called to share and reflect that glory in the world.
In Moses case, this is a very literal reflecting –
his face shines and glows with the presence of the Lord
as he comes down the mountain.
Moses is like the moon not the
God provides the light, the warmth, the love –
Moses, just needs to reflect it in the world.
Have you ever met someone who has just fallen head-over heels in love
and has discovered that the boy or girl of their dreams
feels the same way about them?
I remember meeting a friend in that happy state –
You could see the smile half a mile away…..
And more than that, everything was good in life,
nothing was too much trouble, everyone was a friend
And Moses was blown away by the
awesome love and light of God.
And people only had to look at him – everyone knew -
his face glowed!!
When we come to this table, this
is our mountain top –
and in bread and wine we meet the Lord –
Let him into your heart, let the flame burn.
So as we go out may others see in
our faces and our lives
the light and love of God.
Of course we can still get it wrong.
It was Martin Buber who said that
“Nothing is so apt to mask the face of God as religion” -
When we are given a glimpse of the
face of Christ:
pray God we may not hide it but share it.
There is a story told of a mediaeval monk
who was found to be a most gifted artist.
He was commissioned to paint a great mural
of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Monastery Chapel.
It was beautiful and universally praised.
Then someone noticed –
the face of the Mary bore a striking resemblance
to that of a young nun in a nearby nunnery.
Suddenly the mood changed.
The monk was punished,
and the mural was destroyed as an insult to God.
How sad that the abbot could not
have given thanks to God
that in a girl’s face the reflection of his glory had again shone….
The sun shines brightly on a crisp winter’s morning.
You stand looking at a great mansion with light behind you.
The sun is caught in the great windows
and thrown back dazzling you.
To the side of the great house is a an old
its panes cracked and uncared for.
But from there too you see the light caught and reflected.
And there on the gravel some odd bits of splintered glass –
maybe a broken vase long forgotten….
And the sun is reflected there also.
Are you a great saint, or an
ordinary flawed person?
either way, the light can and will reflect if you stand in the sun!
Earthern vessels can still bear treasure –
Smashed glass can still reflect the beams of God’s glory .
And we live in a dark world in desperate need of the light of God.
When Jesus and the 3 disciples
came down from the mountaintop,
they meet a boy possessed of an evil spirit.
I don’t know whether you believe
literally in evil spirits
(I guess some will, many will not in a literal sense).
But we all believe in the power of evil at work in our world –
And in a country where three teenage boys have been murdered
by gang warfare in the past couple of weeks,
the story of a young lad possessed by evil spirits
seems very topical, very close to home.
Less dramatically but maybe just as worryingly,
we have been told that our children
in this country are less well cared for
than in any other so-called developed nation.
When Christ looks on us, his face
is suffused with
the light and warmth of love and care for all his children –
and he says take that love and light and warmth and do thou likewise.
See me on the mountain –
then go and care for my children in the valley of the shadow below.
In a few minutes Fiona will be saying something
about the Tilola School in Malawi -
Can we help the light of Christ shine there?
Please listen to what Fiona says,
and then if you can stay for lunch
and put a donation for the Malawi School
in the basket over lunch.
And if you are going home to your own meal –
well please leave us the money anyway -
there will be baskets at the door.
I hesitate to talk about child development with so many experts here –
but I understand that a child can recognize and distinguish individual faces
at between 4 and 5 months.
Do we show them the face of Christ??
Remember the words of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables:
“To love another person is to see the face of God”
We can offer and see the face of Christ wherever we go.
Some of you know well the remarkable painting on the wall
of the University Chapel showing a man in a tube train
strap hanging – his hands held out each side –
and you ask Is this a picture of a man on the tube,
or is it a picture of Christ on the cross?
We can see Christ in others and we
can offer Christ to others
wherever we may be.
I am reminded of some words of Jorge Luis Borges:
“The profile of a Jew in the subway is perhaps the profile of Christ;
perhaps the hands that give us our change at a ticket window
duplicate the ones some soldiers nailed one day to the cross.
Perhaps a feature of the crucified face lurks in every mirror … “
(Paradiso, XXXI, 108, Jorge Luis Borges)
So as we kneel to receive the body
let us feel his gaze upon us.
Then let us go out bathed in the glory of his presence.
And never mind that we are cracked
and pitted mirrors -
even they can reflect the light of Christ in the darkness
Until finally in God’s good time
“slip the surly bonds of earth….
to touch the face of God."
praise God, may we and all God’s children
one day stand with Moses and Elijah and all the Saints
before the throne of grace
and at last
see not in a mirror dimly
but face to face.
Sunday 18th February 2007
Sunday before Lent
Holy Communion led by Rev Andrew Sails and Rev Charles Hadley
with the Mint Orchestra and MethAng Students
Readings: Exodus 34:29-35 (p.94)
Luke 9:28-36 (p.1040)
Ten Commandments” – members of MethAng (University student
Methodist Anglican Society)
present an excerpt from the musical “Unbreakable” to be performed at the Mint on 2/3 March)
Hymn 437 “Guide me O thou great Jehovah”
Sermon: “Unbreakable” - Andrew Sails
SOF 362 “Shine
[During this hymn the collection will be taken]
Tilola Secondary School, Malawi – Fiona Knott talks about the work of Tilola School, this year’s MethAng charity.
Prayers and Lord’s Prayer - Charles Hadley
Peace Minister: The peace of the Lord be with you
People: And also with you.
[The congregation greet each other with a
handshake and words of the peace.
The young people enter]
Hymn SOF 40 “Be Still” (accompanied by the Mint orchestra)
[During this hymn the offertory will be brought forward]
Communion led by Rev Charles Hadley
(congregation remains standing)
Minister: Lift up your Hearts.
All: We lift them up to the Lord.
Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
All: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
we thank you for all your never failing love for your children throughout
When we have gone astray you have remained ever faithful to us,
so that the light of your glory might shine in the midst of our darkness.
Above all we thank you for the gift of your Son,
the light of the world, living our life,
walking alongside us in our pain and sorrow, even unto death.
So with the heavenly choir we join the song of praise:
holy, holy is the Lord,
holy is the Lord God almighty!
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord,
holy is the Lord God almighty!
Who was, and is, and is to come!
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!
Minister: On the night he was
the Lord Jesus took bread,
he gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying
“Take, eat, this is my body. Do this in remembrance of me.”
the same way he took the cup;
he gave thanks and gave it to them saying:
“Drink of it, all of you; this is my blood of the new Covenant
which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
us, O Christ, and breathe your Spirit upon us
and upon this bread and wine.
May they become for us your body,
vibrant with your life, healing, renewing and making us whole.
And as the bread and wine which we now eat and drink
are changed into us, may we be changed again into you,
bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh,
loving and caring in the world.
The Breaking of the Bread
Minister: Look, the Body of Christ is broken for the life of the world.
Distribution of Bread and Wine [The congregation is seated]
Minister: Jesus said, “I am the bread of
life”. Those who come to me shall not
hunger and those who believe in me shall never thirst.
Draw near with faith.
[All are invited to receive bread & wine. Please come forward to the rail when the steward indicates. Please fill up the rail from the centre and return to your seats via the side aisles. Should you wish to receive a blessing only, simply come forward to the rail, but do not hold out your hand for bread & wine.]
Prayer after Communion:
All: God of power,
may the boldness of your Spirit transform us,
may the gentleness of your Spirit lead us,
and may the gifts of your Spirit equip us
to serve and worship you
now and always. Amen.
shall go out” (Tune HAP 238 Londonderry Air)
(accompanied by the Mint orchestra)
Liturgy this morning includes material
from the Iona Worship Book and the Methodist Worship Book)
At the end of this service there will be coffee served at the back of the Church, followed by hot lunch prepared by the MethAng students in the Rowe Hall. All are invited to join us for lunch. There is no charge for lunch, but donations are invited for the Tilola School. If you cannot stay for lunch please leave a donation for the school in the baskets at the door of the Church as you leave There will also be an meeting to launch the ecumenical Lent House Groups – this will be held over lunch (again provided by the students with donations requested for Tilola School) in the School Room The Rowe Hall and the School Room can both be reached via the stairs in the main foyer. Please ask a steward if you require assistance.