Sermon 2 in All Saints Lydiard Millicent Series on Church
The Church , The Glory of God?
I wonder where do you see God’s glory? Every time I walk up the path to All Saints Church Lydiard Millicent, I catch a glimpse of the Glory of God. It is a lovely setting a great Church building and when the sun is shining it is easy to sense God’s majesty. But can we see God’s glory in the Church? A simple answer would be yes, we can. We can walk into St Pauls Cathedral in London or into All Saints Church and sense something of God’s glory. We can see the sun shining through the windows and say yes! I sense God glory in this place.(later we will explore what it means to sense God’s Glory in the Ecclesia, the Church, the gathering of God’s people primarily by our actions how we treat one another)
Let us explore what Glory is.
Glory literally means 'weight' the Old testament word for glory 'Kabod' meant ‘heavy’ meaning importance. In 2 Corinthians 4:16- 18 Gods eternal glory outweighs the negativity of our troubles.
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In the Old Testament Gods glory would frequently be encountered in fire or light or cloud. See Exodus 16:10 and 24:17
Moses said to God one day “Now show me your glory and the Lord said “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will proclaim my name the Lord in your presence, But you cannot see my face, no one may see me and live”
Then the Lord said “when my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand”
In a sense Moses got his answer he caught a glimpse of Gods glory.
Isaiah 6.3 says The whole earth is full of your glory
Ezekiel in Ezekiel 43:2 says I saw the glory of Israel
The Apostle John reflecting on life side by side with Jesus said “ We have seen his glory the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father full of grace and truth”
John 1:14 New International Version
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
And then in Colossians and Matthew our two NT readings we hear about future glory.
In Colossians 3:4 Paul says when Christ who is your life appears then you also will appear with him in glory
And in Matthew 25vs 31 Jesus says “when the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels with him. Then he will sit on his glorious throne”. So in some places in the Bible people caught glimpses of his glory like Moses and Isaiah and Ezekiel, and in others John says he has seen his glory then in Matthew and Colossians Jesus and Paul look forward to a future time (eschatologically now and yet to be realised in the future) when Christ’s glory shall be more fully revealed.
Paul tells us that Christ is in us the hope of Glory, Colossians 1:27, and that it is as we grow in Christ our faces contemplate the Lord’s Glory and that we are being transformed as it says in 1 Corinthians 3:18 into the same image of Christ’s glory, being transformed from one degree of glory into a another, for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
That is the thing though is it not? , Does Gods glory live in the Church? Quarrelling Churches, Churches where there is outright sin and anger, and as I have discovered doing a recently published C of E course on safeguarding, actual abuse having historically taken place in churches, all, sadly or tragically, are not places reflecting God’s glory. In the face of such sin we cannot make excuses, only weep with those who weep, repent for the truth that these things did take place, and so seek to put in safeguarding measures that the wounded are healed, and that we never see this happen again, and take steps to guard against it happening.
See advice on this link:
Maybe then we need to approach scriptures such as we have in Colossians 3 soberly, not pointing the finger at others but saying “O lord have mercy upon us, begin with your Church” ( the Litany in the BCP is a good but hard prayer to say)
There is a flip side to knowing God’s glory as Paul begins to explain in Colossians 3:1-4 . (wonderful verses) to Colossians 3:5 and following (sobering verses)
In Colossians chapter 3 vs 5 Paul begins to identify things that must be put to death:
Sexual immorality ( In the NT the word used is the Greek ‘Porneia’)
Passion (ESV) (translated as lust in the TNIV (that is to say bad passion, not good passion, so passion for the Arts, for Sport, for Creation, for Science etc is good, what Paul is talking about is base passion with no self-control)
On account of these things says Paul it is not Christ’s glory that we can look forward to, but God’s wrath.
So now says Paul put away anger, malice ,slander and obscene talk from your mouth, don’t lie to each other but put off the old and put on the new renewed in knowledge instead says Paul (here is the positive bit)
Instead put on as it were clothes
Know that you are beloved and holy, that is our starting point, we are beloved of Christ made holy by his sacrificial death on the cross for us.
Hippolytus of Rome an early Church Father wrote:
“A heavenly light more brilliant than all others sheds it radiance everywhere, and he who was begotten before the morning star and all the stars of heaven Christ mighty and immortal shines upon all creatures more brightly than the Sun”
Colossians 3: 12 Paul says
Then put on.
Meekness and patience bearing with one another as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
I find it fascinating that the bit about compassionate hearts and kindness sounds genuinely like the character of God that God tells Moses about in Exodus 33 when he displays his glory
And the second part of the teaching here by St Paul sounds like Jesus’s teaching in Matthew w 5- 7 ( a point aside who said Paul and Jesus have a different Gospel? They do not!)
And above all says St Paul in Colossians 3 put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony. You know what it’s like when you get ready for a wedding or a night out you put on smart clothes you feel good, or in winter over everything you put on a nice wool coat you feel snug. And says St Paul let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts to whom you were called in one body and be thankful.( the discipline of thankfulness is a vaccine against any plague of bitterness and sin, try it, it works!)
Wow so this is how Gods glory is reflected in the Church Why didn’t someone tell me that before (what about you did you know this?)
How we speak, how we act, how we give, how we forgive, how we heal. What we see, what we hear, how we love ,ALL demonstrate whether God’s glory has gotten a hold of us or not. Christianity is practical not theoretical if it is not working go change your Internet provider! We changed from BT to Vodafone, at first it all malfunctioned this week, then a Vodafone engineer ( God bless you Zach!) said have a look at your socket it was the “Openreach” socket that was faulty, now communication is good all is restored. How about you (and me) if we have a faulty socket e.g. we are relying on self-effort ethics to try and be good, or we worship in Church one moment and go straight out and badmouth people and sin openly don’t expect your communication lines with God to work well,(or others) You and I let’s go read Colossians 3 use it as prayer when we dress in the morning.
By the way, this Glory business is it all pie in the sky when you die!?Only relevant when you die and see a glimpse of glory? No repeat No
Look up these verses which speak about practical Glory
The end of Matthew 25;31 and following the separation of Sheep and goats is not based on how many theological books you have (thank God) It is based here on how you and I treat the poor and naked and imprisoned.(ouch you say but I am saved I went to Alpha at the Vicarage!) Great as James says, now prove it with your actions.
Proverbs 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged
and the glory of Children is their fathers (now that encouraging)
Proverbs 28 VS 12 When the righteous triumph there is great Glory
Wow so when Wilberforce brought about the end of slavery he was bathed in Glory.
When Shaftsbury blessed the Poor of London by his legalisation and acts of generosity, he was bathed in glory
Just google Glory in the Bible you will get the idea.
So is there Glory in the Church yes there is but its by Gods mercy and just as Israel rebelled against God ( read Jeremiah and Ezekiel) and messed up the Church (big time) has messed up but God has a habit of hearing a repentant and sorrowful church and showing his grace and his Church is still one of his prime ways of reflecting Gods glory ( read Revelation chapters 1- 7 and 20 to the end)
Our beginning and our end:
bring us with the whole of creation
to your glory, hidden through past ages
and made known in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.