Moses has been on the mountain. He has conversed with God and received the Commandments. He has been enclosed in the uncreated light of the Holy One, encircled by the radiance of this God who has brought the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt and into the desolations of the desert. While his people have fallen prey to all kinds of longings and temptations, Moses has gone apart for this intimate time with God. Moses is spending time alone with the One who has led them by pillars of cloud and of fire. He has been immersed in the light of God. He comes down from the mountain a changed man with a changed face.
The human face is a mystery. We can never see ourselves. Of course, we can see our reflection in a mirror. But that is a mirror image; the reality of our face is reversed. We need one another to have a sense of the beauty of our faces. We need one another to discover what our faces may be showing. Those who know us best let us know that our faces reveal more than we can ask or imagine.
Moses’ face was shining. He was changed from glory into glory. Yet this stunning appearance was disconcerting for others. He knew that his face was different—radically changed—because of the reactions of others. Moses was changed in every respect. Even his physicality reflected the encounter with divine glory. His face was radiant and full of light.
In pastoral work as an Episcopal priest, I have on occasion had the privilege of seeing a truly physical shift in a person’s face. Not a momentary change, but a transformation from the inside out.
Living, loving God, change our faces to infuse our being with the light and love of Sinai so that we may bring light into the world. Amen.
God’s glory is always revealed, even if never completely. When Moses encounters God on the mountain, his face undergoes a physical transformation as a reflection of God’s greater glory. The psalmist reminds us of how great God is and how even Moses and Aaron bow before God’s throne. Paul refers to the story of Moses, but because of Christ, God’s glory is now more openly revealed. There is no need to wear a covering as Moses did, for Christ reflects openly the divine radiance. Luke recounts the Transfiguration, when the face of Jesus, like that of Moses, begins to shine. God’s voice reinforces the revelation of the Transfiguration, declaring Jesus to be God’s Son and the revelation of God’s glory.
Read Exodus 34:29-35. Consider the ways you provide evidence of your faith. Do you display it for your glory or for God’s?
Read Psalm 99. How do you seek a healthy balance of awe and intimacy in your relationship with God?
Read 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2. What “veil” separates you from God—a sense of unworthiness, a hardened heart, a lack of understanding?
Read Luke 9:28-43a. Jesus shines with God’s glory, but then he gets back to his work of healing. Consider how God might transform you to do better the work you are already doing for God.
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.