2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

In the last few weeks I’ve had several couples contact me about weddings, some for me to conduct their ceremony and others to do the preparation with them because someone else is conducting the ceremony.  Either way it is easy to see the excitement in the future bride’s eyes as she plans out the details of the upcoming wedding.

I also know that in most cases when you get to the wedding the bride will enter the church with her face covered by a veil.  As the person officiating I get perhaps the best view in the house (or winery or park or wherever the marriage is taking place!)  I can see through the veil and without exception each bride that has walked up to meet her groom has been ‘glowing’, not literally but glowing with the excitement of the day and the new stage in her life that is about to commence.  The groom on the other hand usually looks nervous; he hasn’t spent most of the morning preparing! 

When we reach the point of the rite where the groom is invited to lift the veil and kiss his bride, he can finally see clearly the glowing face that awaits him.  There is no longer anything hiding it, she is his and he is hers, they are now husband and wife.  There is no longer anything between them restricting access.

What Moses was hiding with a veil was a little bit different though.  The veil that Moses wore was to protect the people from his shining face because when the people saw it they were afraid.  When he spoke to them he covered his face, and when he went to talk with the Lord, he removed it.  Each time he returned he would put the veil back on.  In this way the people of Israel were perhaps restricted from seeing the glory of God shining through Moses.  He was their access point to God, but even then there was a further restriction placed in the way.

When Jesus, James, John and Peter went up on the mountain to pray, there was a slightly different scenario.  While Jesus was praying the appearance of his face changed and his clothes became dazzling white.  The disciples saw and heard Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus about what would happen to him in Jerusalem.  They saw the glory of Jesus and then a cloud covered them as the Father spoke to them, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him”.  Once again there was a kind of veil, this time as a cloud, between God’s people and him but they had seen Jesus, in his full glory.  The voice was for their benefit, to explain to them what they had just seen and experienced, yet they kept silent about it and didn’t tell anyone about what they had seen.

I experienced something like that yesterday at the ice rink; I watched one game and then helped out in the penalty box for two more.  At the beginning of each game you could see clearly, then as the game progressed and bodies heated up the fog set in.  You knew what had been happening out there and the way things would normally go, but you had to strain your eyes to see the puck and then eventually the players.  It wasn’t until the Zamboni came out and resurfaced the ice that the fog cleared again.  My eyes are still sore this morning from straining to see.  Initially I could see clearly then a cloud appeared on the rink and you had to go by sound and voices, then it cleared again.

Paul gives an interesting comparison between the experience of Moses and the people of God and the post resurrection church that was still forming.  He says that the Israelites were and still are living in a veiled way, they hear the old covenant, that is, the Commandments that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai, the veil remains, they can’t see the true glory of God directly.  They only see the law, but those who know Jesus, the Lord, see his glory as if reflected in a mirror, they are transformed.  The veil has been lifted; we have access to Jesus as if we were his bride.  Married to him through our Baptism, he has lifted the veil and given us access to him and through him to the Father.

We constantly have access to Jesus through his real presence in the Lord’s Supper.  We veil the elements until we reach the part of the service when we sing with the angels the Holy, Holy, Holy.  Then it is removed and the words of institution are spoken over them, they are consecrated and we believe that Christ is present in with and under the bread and the wine.  The veil has been removed and we have direct access to his glory, his forgiveness of sins through his body and blood.  You can’t get more access than that!  And as we receive forgiveness of sin through the Son, we are given access to the Father, when he sees us he doesn’t see our sin, but he sees the glory of the son reflected in us, as if we had never sinned and were living in his glory.

Then when the meal, the feast is over, and we are prepared to depart in peace as forgiven sinners, we hear the same blessing that God the Father gave to Moses to pass on to Aaron and his people.  “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord look upon you with favour and give you his peace.”

This ancient blessing has been passed down through the generations; it continues to function as it did when God first passed it to Moses.  Through the pastor or any other Christian who speaks that blessing you receive the blessing of the Lord; he is making his face shine on you, giving you a blessing that will not fade.

This is what’s known as a performative utterance.  When it is spoken something happens.  It’s not just a wish or a hope; you are receiving a blessing from God, handed down from generation to generation for the benefit and blessing of God’s people.

Our God is a loving and gracious God, who wants you to receive his blessing and grace, through his son Jesus.  Who was himself transfigured before his disciples Peter, James and John, he wasn’t reflecting the glory of God because he himself was and is God, made flesh for our benefit, to bring us true blessing through taking our sins on himself to the cross.

Receive God’s blessing as it has been given to you, for your benefit and blessing.