Rev. Rosemary Webb
3rd March 2019
Listen to God

In the reading from Corinthians Paul is not dwelling on Moses as a person, but rather on the fact that he had to be veiled when in the company of people, he could only be truly visible to God.

Paul interpreted this as meaning that to be able to truly understand the old covenant, the ‘Good News’ the veil had to be removed, until the veil is removed, we cannot fully accept it. We have to let the Holy Spirit into our lives to set us free, for only the Holy Spirit can remove the veil, all that hides us from God’s glory.

In the Gospel reading the disciples are still having difficulty in understanding Christ’s power – the passage follows on from them having to wake Jesus because their boat was sinking.

Peter, James and John knew the scriptures, they knew how God had taken Moses and the people of Israel to Mount Sinai to receive the ten commandments, and here they were with Jesus going up Mount Tabor, up that winding road, they must have been wondering why was he doing this.

Mountains to me are a symbol of the glorious majesty of God’s creation. And you don’t need to be on a very high mountain to feel liberated from the pressures of life, to see the world in context.

The recent weeks had been hard for the disciples, Jesus was pushing them, getting them to do things alone. So, what was this leading to? They were human, they didn’t have the energy Jesus had, perhaps all they really wanted was some sleep.

Yet again God was bringing his people to another mountain and the intention was to make sure that the disciples truly understood who they were with. While Jesus prayed his face shone and his clothes became while and he was joined by Moses and Elijah, Peter was so overwhelmed by it all that he wanted to make a tent, to make something which would serve as a reminder of the wonder they had just seen. Then the clouds came down and just as when Jesus was baptised by John a voice came out of the clouds saying ‘this is my son, the chosen one, listen to him’ and then they were alone again. Moses and Elijah had disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.

Today God is still calling us to climb the mountain, to see through the clouds which dim our sight, not physical clouds but that spiritual cloud which prevents us from truly trusting God, truly seeing him as he is, truly accepting Jesus as our Saviour. Every time I hear this passage, I seem to hear a new message, to think anew on it.

It was only Jesus who became radiant not the disciples, surely a reminder to us all that we can’t outshine God, when we stand at the altar it is the altar that draws people to God not humans, which is one of the main reasons I am so pleased the here at St Matthews our robes replicate the altar colours. We are here to serve not take over. In Corinthians Paul talked about Moses having to be veiled when in the company of others, we are not veiled but hopefully we blend in rather than stand out.

But isn’t the message that we must not allow our souls and hearts to be veiled from the message. That we must clear from our eyes all that hides the true message, all that makes us see and hear what we want to hear, not what God wants us to hear, not what God is telling us.

When children are young you often hear parents say they only hear what they want to hear, but doesn’t our Father, God say that about us now. If it wasn’t true the Church would always talk with one voice, live out the Gospel, truly be Christ’s body here on earth now. So why isn’t it like that?

I started by saying that I always feel liberated when up a mountain, free from the pressures of life, to me it is harder to be distracted. God knows us better than we know ourselves, which is probably why he has taken people to a mountain when he has a message he wants to proclaim. He fully knows how easy it is for us to be distracted to lose the plot. How we often only hear what we want to hear.

I think I can truly say I can never remember a time when this country has been in such turmoil. Everyone with an opinion shouting loudly, insults flying everywhere, very few people talking about reconciliation, let alone loving our neighbour. So, what is God doing you might say.

The fact is God is doing what he has always been doing that is supporting us, guiding us, loving us, God doesn’t change, however fed up he gets with us he still gives us freedom of choice.

Tragically it is obvious that some people within the church are truly letting God down, Jesus didn’t suffer on the cross so that we could lead our lives just as we feel fit. But the rest of us what are we doing. I suspect that one of the main problems which God has to face is that we, not just listen only when we want to, but more importantly hear what we want to hear or indeed see what we want to see. We feel we know what the world needs, what other people need, we don’t need to seek God’s advice. We know.

But of course, sadly we don’t, we think we know, and I think there are times when there can be nothing more dangerous than that.

The passage from Luke was all about a journey, a journey Peter, James and John made up Mount Tabor with Jesus when the whole glory of God was revealed to them. Our journey through life will have moments when we see and feel that glory and we must hold on to them, not let the difficult times overwhelm us.

But I believe we must make time, time to listen to God, to spend time in silence with him. And time can be our greatest problem, but we must make time, we must make the time, without time it is even harder to listen to God, to hear his voice.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when we make time to think about Jesus’ life, recall how he gave his life for us on the Cross. Let us pray that this Lent we will truly listen to his voice, listen to all the words he speaks, not just the ones we like, the ones we find easy, the one we want to hear.

Heavenly Father, save me from the confidence that makes me want to follow the way that immediately seems right and teach me to wait until you show me the right path.

Luke 9: 28-36
2 Corinthians