Sermon Epiphany 8 March 3, 2019

Exodus 34:29-35                    Psalm 99

         2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2                     Luke 9:28-36

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

About five hundred years before Christ a priest and scribe named Ezra took an unusual step of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, publicly to the people.  The walls of the City of Jerusalem had just been rebuilt and the people expressed a desire to be reminded of God’s Law.  In the  ‘new’  city the people wanted to live right.  Living Right is the theme that we have been following these last few weeks.  Now Ezra spoke to the people who were assembled at the Water Gate of the city of Jerusalem.  Many of us are old enough to remember the goings on at the Democrat’s headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington D. C.  Some of us may even remember Senator Sam Ervin, the chairman, who had a propensity to quote Scripture whenever he could to make a point.  The Watergate scandal cleared the air and eventually allowed the federal government of the United States to put its house in order and live more right.  I remember those times as a time when a veil was lifted from the bad secrets of the Nixon administration, skulduggery was exposed and dealt with.  Then, there was  “Deep Throat”.

The same thing is happening today with the testimony of Michael Cohen and other witnesses of questionable character, spilling the beans on their president.  The veil is being lifted again.  Today we have the  “Deep State”  that covertly runs the US government.  I quoted Scott the other day, I will do it again now  “What a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive”.  It is even more true in our time !  What is it with us ?  But the veil is being lifted.

And in Canada we have an ex-Minister of Justice and Attorney General lifting the veil on how opaque our own government is, transparent it ain’t.  The government is scrambling to disprove allegations of wrongdoing;  all the while the veil is being lifted.

These grand exposés show us that we humans are actually a miserable lot.  It seems many of us will stoop at every opportunity to enrich ourselves, to take advantage of others and not only break the law but breach every code of ethics the rest of us claim to be honourable, when we are not ourselves bending the rules that is.  It is a sorry state of affairs, and even worse in countries where democracy and the Rule of Law don’t apply.  In other places around the world the complainants would just disappear or have their heads cut off, no questions asked, because to ask would cause the loss of your own.

One characteristic we all do share is that we want to know the truth, even if we hide from it ourselves when we are at fault.  We want to know the truth for our own security.  If we know the truth we are in a much better position than living in ignorance.  So when St. Paul says that the veil concealing God’s intention for humanity has been lifted by the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, you bet we should prick up our ears and get to know that Truth.  But we not only want to know the Truth, we love a scandal.  We are fascinated by scandals.  Look how we rubber-neck when we see an accident on the highway.  Or tune in to the current governmental hearings, detailing a train-wreck in governance.  They are all scandals.

St. Paul uses the very word  ‘scandal’  to describe the death of Jesus  (I Corinthians 1:23).  It was a scandal.  The supposéd Messiah was executed as a criminal.  How could the Son of God be killed like that ?  It was and is the Scandal of the Ages.  The Messiah was supposed to save the Jews from oppression.  And there He was, a limp body on an ignominious Cross, hung out to dry in the Mediterranean sun.  Why did I believe in Him was the obvious question.  What a fool I was, I placed my trust in Him and it is all squandered on a useless, senseless death.  Huh !  Why do I bother, no one can bring me the freedom from oppression that I want.  I may just as well give up !  As St. Paul says  “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die”  (1 Corinthians 15:32).  This Jesus of Nazareth has nothing to offer, what’s the point in living the life He espoused ?

Well you remember what I said last week ?  Give God time and He will do miracles.  On a Friday Jesus died.  Three days later everything changed – everything after that and everything before.  Jesus was dead, now He is alive.  And because He lives so do we.  Nothing we can do, absolutely nothing we can do can make us alive again.  Only the Grace of God expressed in the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth can do that.  We cannot save ourselves from everlasting death, only God can raise us to everlasting life.  No matter how much we might will against it we will die in God’s own good time, but the Good News of the Gospel is that we will live again by the Grace of God, eternally in His presence and the presence of those we love, and even those we are not so keen about.  Our outlook will be changed in the blink of an eye  (1 Corinthians 15:52)  we will not cease to exist for even a second, we will always live.  Thanks be to God !  Like Moses, like Jesus we will be changed, we will have bodies glowing with the presence of God for in His presence we will be.  And that is the transforming Good News for today.  Amen.

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