That Luminous Quality

Exodus 34:29-35

One thing I know for certain about my new appointment at Luminary UMC—I like the name.

The word “luminary” has several meanings, but the obvious meaning in this case would be something that glows because of a light within. Think of those little bags that sometimes line the sidewalks during the fall and winter holidays, the ones with the lit candles inside. My wife reminded me these are called “luminarias.” They create a warm, attractive glow. Everyone wants to draw near.

I use the Exodus text today for a simple reason. The name Luminary made me think of Moses meeting with God and then carrying within him the glow of having been in the presence of God. This particular story predates the existence of the tabernacle. It begins with Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with new tablets to replace the ones he destroyed after finding the people worshiping the golden image of a calf.

As the story proceeds, we begin to realize the glowing face of Moses was not just a one-time event. Early in the Israelites’ desert journey, Moses would go out to the Tent of Meeting when he needed to consult with God. The Israelites kept this tent set up just outside camp, and the people would watch as God would descend in a cloud, cover the entrance to the tent, and talk to Moses. After each of these encounters, Moses’ face would be luminous, evidence of his encounter with holiness.

So, here at Luminary UMC, what becomes luminous with God’s glory? What here is worthy of the name Luminary?

As beautiful as it is, it is not the building. It’s electrified to have light within, but that’s not the kind of luminance I’m talking about. No, our building is our tent of meeting. It is the place we go to encounter God. Perhaps we even find answers here.

It’s not me, either. I’m not Moses in our story. I don’t individually bear some kind of light at which the congregation can only gawk.

No, the answer is better than all of that. You, the members and friends of Luminary, are the ones who are to go forth with shining faces. We all get to be Moses. That should be our goal: to encounter God in such a powerful way each Sunday that others who see us know we have been in the presence of God.

I’ve told you my story of some of those life-changing encounters I’ve had with God. We want to be sure we’re having those first-time encounters and those ongoing encounters, particularly when we worship, and also when we gather in other ways.

Some of you know what I’m talking about. You’ve been meeting God in worship regularly, and it shows. I’ve already seen traces of God shining in your faces.

Some of you want it; I already can see that, too. Know that God has made it easy. In the desert, it was hard. People feared such things. God seemed distant, and there was nothing but the law to guide them.

But we’re especially blessed, because we live in a time after Jesus. We know his teachings: Love God, love one another, fear not and follow Christ. We know the story of the cross. We know the story of the glorious resurrection, and we know the Holy Spirit is with us today.

God’s light shines on us continually. We’re going to let the light in, people of Luminary UMC, and we’re going to carry it to others.


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