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Interactive Homily, February 19, 2023 (The Rev. Dr. Deborah White and congregation)

Interactive 8 am Homily for February 19, 2023, Last Epiphany:

The Glory of God

(The Rev. Dr. Deborah White)


Today we are going to continue with our interactive sermon series. As a reminder, this is different than a “normal” sermon, in which I teach and preach to you without interaction. Last time we met at 8 am, we tried a more interactive approach to understanding the scriptures of the day. I gave you some ideas and questions about the day’s readings and then asked you to share your impressions and responses with me. Since you felt it was enjoyable and educational, we are going to do the same this week.

Reflection (Hebrew Scripture): Today’s Hebrew scripture is the story of the giving of the Ten Commandments, which happens in the context of a private interaction between God and Moses. It is focused on the glory of God and what it is like to be in God’s presence.

Reflection question for Exodus:

-Why do you think it was important for the writer to describe the scene?

-What is your experience of being in the presence of God?

Reflection (Psalm): Today’s psalm, like our Hebrew Scripture, focuses on the glory of God. It actually references our Hebrew Scripture by mentioning how God appeared to Moses and provided him with commandments to help the people live.

Reflection question for the psalm:

-The words of this psalm are consistent with the idea that it is not our own behavior but our relationship to God that makes us a separate and holy people. Do you agree with this idea, or have you been taught that God is mostly interested in who obeys God’s laws and who commits “evil deeds”?

Reflection (New Testament Scripture): Today’s New Testament scripture is from one of the letters attributed to Peter. In it, he references the Transfiguration story from today’s gospel and offers the event as proof that the ancient prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus. Like in the Hebrew scripture and gospel, the writer describes the glory of God, this time as it is present in Jesus.

Reflection question for 2 Peter:

-In our age we often hear people talking about prophecies being fulfilled. How do you (or have you) reacted to the idea that a prophecy has been given or fulfilled in our time?

Reflection (Gospel): Our gospel from Matthew is the story of the Transfiguration, in which several of the disciples see Jesus in his divine form. Part of the vision includes the presence of the patriarch of Judaism (Moses) and one of its great prophets (Elijah). The scene is very reminiscent of the giving of the Ten Commandments except that this time Jesus’s glory is revealed.

Reflection questions for the Gospel:

-For many people, “seeing is believing.” How much are you influenced by perceived “evidence” of your religious beliefs?

-Peter reacts to this miracle by wanting to memorialize it. All the witnesses are afraid. How do you experience the glory of God and/or Jesus?

Summary reflection:

-What would you say are the major themes of today’s readings?

-How do they help us to think about our own faith?

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