Tag: veil

Lifting the Veil

Sermon, Transfiguration Day

1 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

From <https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+3%3A12-4%3A2&version=NIVUK>

Weddings have been on our mind. Last weekend our oldest Son got married. He is the first of the four kids to do so. It was a great day. Only one small thing went amiss – the bride’s veil! Somehow the veil got left on the table as bridal part left to get to the church on time. Not to worry. She looked stunning without the veil anyway.

I don’t know what it is like to be a bride walking down the aisle, arm in arm with a parent, looking through a veil. In one way it must feel safe – When everyone is looking at you, you are still hidden in part. No one can see you fully – your emotions – tears, joy or anxiousness….. There is a certain safety of being hidden behind the veil.

Moses was being safe when he wore his veil. His face would literally glow when came down from the mountain or out from the Tabernacle after speaking with the Lord ‘face-to-face”.  Moses put a veil over his face from people so they were not prone to mistrusting him as leader when the glory glow eventually faded. Maybe he wore the veil to just not ‘spook’ them too!

The glory of God can spook us. Just ask Peter, Andrew and John up on that Transfiguration mountain we heard about! Jesus’ glorious perfection, holiness, purity and light was too much for them. It is too much for us. His complete freedom, full life, extended joy and all-knowing heart and all-seeing eye when unveiled can rock us, overwhelm us, shake us.

This might be why we often prefer to keep the veil on. Like the Bride in that big moment when everyone staring at her, we often want to be safe, secure and in control of ourselves and others – and especially God’s stare. Like the Bride with the veil, the veil between us and God is a bit of safety in an unsure life.

But what is ‘the veil’? For Paul, the Old Testament Law is still God’s good Law, but it can be used by us as a veil that feels safe but hides the truth of what the Lord has done to allow is to live in his glorious freedom and light without any veil.

The Law is what we know. We can hide behind God’s good Law to the point that we will not allow the safety to be shattered by the more extensive, more complete, less controllable, understandable glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, who is God’s ultimate revealing of who God really is and what God is really doing in our lives.

And this is who we know already, according to Paul. Jesus is the new way in which God gets his glorious presence close to us without dazing us, overwhelming us, even killing us. Jesus is Glory hidden in human flesh and bones – tiredness, laughter, anger, joy in a real human person – but who he is really is – the Son of God – the glory of God, the Majestic King of Glory is revealed in a flash of brilliance that still dazes Peter, Andrew and John.

Like when the groom finally raises the veil of his lovely bride, her fullest beauty and presence is finally revealed to all gathered, so it is with Jesus up on the mountain stunning three people and stunning us – the fullest revealing of God’s gracious presence to us. Like the groom, we are stunned by his brilliant and complete love for us.

But it seems more natural to us to stick to the rules and the things we know like a bride keeping the veil on than let the Lord take the safety of the veil away and eye-ball us face-to-face with his overwhelming light that exposes our darkness, his calling that re-orders our work and family life, his forgiveness which renders our chasing after other safety and security outside of his promises useless.

Friend, here and now, the Spirit of freedom is lifting the veil of safety in things and self and even that misplaced confidence in our ability to earn his acceptance by the keeping of his holy and good Law.

You could choose to settle for walking down the aisle of life with that veil on.

You might want to keep the veil on because you don’t want him to expose you, know you or even love you – lest you have to let him interrupt you; cause you to re-evaluate what you are doing, who you are and where you’re headed. Many people will not let that veil go. They get to the Groom face to face and will not let him take that veil off.

But, by faith in this man up the mountain who would be that dead man on the Golgotha hill and that raised man ascending to rule this world in love, you could let him lift that veil again as you simply come to him in repentance and faith this morning – repenting of all your attempts to control your life, all your anxiety about the future of our country and our church and your life, the state of the world, the changing winds of our culture, your reluctance to trust that even that sin, that regret, that anger because you don’t understand why that terrible thing happened, that weakness that gets you in trouble can be restored, forgiven and freed. “….only in Christ is it taken away”.

And when you allow him to lift that veil, the path gets clearer, the steps bolder, the joy fuller as the Groom truly sees you and his community greet you. There comes a certain boldness about you and about us, no matter what is going on.

12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.

It is this hope of wonderful acceptance and love for limited, struggling, sometimes scared people – just like that Corinthian community – this hope of God’s preferred future for us in his world that brings a boldness to our words and ways. Boldness, freedom, transformation and ministry/serving – that is who we are and what we live in when the veil is lifted. A much better way to walk and relate!

And this is Holy Spirit given.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

With the Spirit’s words of hope, freedom, transformation into Jesus’ ever-increasing wisdom, knowledge, understanding of who he is, what love is and how to love, we ‘do not lose heart’.

You don’t need to give up, shut up or veil up anymore. Neither do we as a local mission outpost of Jesus’ kingdom. There is no need to hide you or your faith in Jesus.

There is a need to avoid things that are not from Jesus or approved by him.

          2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways;

There is no need to trick people.

“….we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

We have nothing to hide in or conversations, in our plans for our mission work here.  We certainly have no need to get side-tracked into that old Law again – telling people what they should do or don’t do for God to love them – that is back in the veil. He loves them before they are friends of his; before they know him, before they try to be good.

We do have the responsibility and the joy to keep it simple:

“On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God”.

Friend, the Groom raises the veil. Your motives, needs and directions are laid bare by his abiding gaze without the veil. How could you and we do anything but gladly reflect his acceptance, love, hope and freedom?

We are not like Moses. We have the veil off. We are being transformed by the Spirit. God is at work in this struggling man, this struggling church, this changing world.

‘…since we have such a hope, we are very bold”.


Lifting the Veil

Transfiguration Sunday
February 18th 2015.
St Petri

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Mark 9:2-9
2 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. 4 And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
5 Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6 (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
7 Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
8 Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

There is something quite special about being “on top of the world”.

The view from the airplane window, Mount Lofty summit, recently for me – The Empire State Building in NYC and etc…takes you to another perspective on the day, or even on life.
Surely Peter, James and John never forgot their mountain top view with Moses, Elijah and Jesus.

There they really did experience the presence of God in such and “unveiled” way; such a visible, touchable way. This mountain top view would be theirs forever – it would sustain them.
Is that the problem we have? Not enough “unveiled” experience of God? I often wonder why it is that so many people we know do not, will not or say they cannot believe in Jesus as Saviour of the world or themselves.

Do you ever wonder why they all don’t just believe like you do and live accordingly? I do.

So, what about people who don’t believe the gospel and the Saviour we trust and love?

We believe the Bible says that nobody can come to a saving faith by themselves. Remember that third part of the Apostle’s Creed and Luther’s understanding from the Bible of it:

I cannot by my own understanding or my own effort come to Jesus.

But it is the Holy Spirit who has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and made me holy and pleasing through faith in Jesus….

So if faith in Jesus is a gift given by him in the power of the Word and the Spirit, then what about our friends, family members, school and work mates that simply don’t believe?

Are they without the Holy Spirit? Are they too bad for the Spirit to reach – or too good (trusting their own goodness)?

Are they left by God to muddle through their work, family, study, relationships, marriages, parenting, university life on their own – spiritless, punchless, faithless? Or worse – are they suffering being afflicted by some evil spirit or curse?

Paul says that if the gospel is veiled to a person – it is only veiled to a person who has been blinded by “the god of this world”.

This is a bit troubling to me. Naming Satan this way seems to give Satan a grand title! Paul is not alone.

John also names Satan similarly: “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Elsewhere Paul names Satan “the wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 3:19). He says people “follow the course of this world” which is laid out by a spirit that urges disobedience to God’s will (Ephesians 2:2).

So, is this world really a battle ground between two God’s after all; with you and I and our family and friends caught in the middle?
Is it all on us to choose the right God to back? But the Bible says we are unable to make that choice anyway.

And can the gospel, which Paul says is the very resurrection power of God be veiled anyway (Romans 1:16)?

Isn’t the good news of the grace of God in the life, death and resurrection from death of Jesus of Nazareth THE life-line for anyone of any sin of any pride of any place? (1Corinthians 1:18)?

Doesn’t the gospel of Jesus shield gospel people from Satan and his minions bent on further destruction (1 Peter 1:5)?

On this day when the veil of Jesus’ glory is lifted off for the three disciples in a once-off show of God’s grand majesty up there on the mountain what is Paul driving at here?

One thing Paul is saying is that the “god of this world” has the ongoing intent to blind people with a dark veil so that they cannot see the dazzling light of Jesus like Peter, James and John were allowed to see.

But having said that, Paul launches straight into our role in all of this light and darkness. He says we are the difference between the two – or more fully, the gospel in our words and actions are the things that pull back the veil now.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, made his
light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge
of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Just as God said, “Let there be light” and there was light, right at the beginning, so he says by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit now at work in us who have received the light of the gospel,
“Let the veil be raised” and the veil is raised.

This veil Satan pulls over people’s eyes is no match for the light of God’s grace.

This gospel we carry is indeed the power for a person to be saved from endless idol making and chasing, endless trust in things and people that cannot deliver what only Jesus can give.

Jesus says to us today:

“…. have no fear of them; for nothing is veiled that will not be unveiled, and nothing secret that will not become known” (Matthew 10:26); and

“No one after lighting a lamp veils it under a jar, or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lamp stand, so that those who enter may see the light” (Luke 8:16).

Friends, people can’t or won’t receive the grace of God in Jesus for a lot of reasons. Satan is at work trying to cast a veil of blindness over my friends and my family members. That is the truth of it.

But Jesus, the light of the world, is also at work among these same people. As we hear here and as we are then called to trust with all of our heart,

5 … what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,
and we are your servants for Jesus’ sake.

The stunning thing here is that his light, his resurrection power, his plan to draw all people into his love is at work in all of us who believe.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

In every breath we take, every move we make, every word we speak every servant hearted kind-hearted thing we do, is Jesus Christ at work lifting the veil – bit-by-bit in another person.

His light penetrates any veil of darkness, any shadowland, any satanic power or oppression.

And here is the other thing I find remarkable and so hopeful; the glory of God in the face of Jesus shining bright is still ours.

The veil of our own trivial concerns, our own self-righteousness, our own lack of understanding, our own spiritual laziness, our own lack of forgiveness, bad behaviour, self-reliance is peeled back weekly around the world.

Every time we call to mind what Jesus did for us in that gift of baptism where we died for the first time and were resurrected for the first time;
Every time we hear those precious words of forgiveness of sin from Jesus himself;

Every time we taste, touch, smell, hear and see the living Jesus in bread and wine together around the new meal of life he has given us, we see his glory – the glory of the forgiveness of Jesus for all sinners at work in the here and now.

As it was for the three stunned Apostles, so it is for us.

This moment of glory was not just for them.

Eventually they would live their lives in response to what they saw and heard that day and other days with Jesus.

What we receive in this new holy mountain of light called Christian worship is not for us to keep.

But unlike the command Jesus gave to them to keep it quiet for time being until the future plans of God came to pass – there is no such command on us.

The plan of God has been revealed in full in Jesus and in the church and now we are sent.

Now we just go. Now we live and we speak and we tell and we invite and we love in Jesus’ name for all our worth –

And friends, this is church; this is what happens in a local church; this is St Petri week-in, week-out:

“…when a person turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18).