Adult Education June 9

As we continue marching through our Year of the Bible, join us to talk about the readings from the past week.

Wednesday, June 9 at 7:00 CDT via Zoom we’ll chat over II Kings 15-25; I Chronicles 1-6; Psalms 64-67; and II Corinthians 7-11.

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Meeting ID: 951 7100 9442
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Sermon from Trinity Sunday: Apotheosis

Apotheosis
Trinity Sunday; May 30, 2021
II Corinthians 4

It is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

Anyone else experiencing Zoom fatigue? On the one hand, it has been nice to be able to get together with friends and family, even under quasi-lockdown. And we have had church meetings and Sunday School via Zoom; I’ve attended Rotary every Wednesday at noon and Wednesday evenings we have had Zoom Bible study. That’s been great. But it is tiring for that to be pretty much the only contact you have with people and you want to be able to be with people for real, to see their faces in three dimensions and not on a screen.

For those of you who have been doing Zoom or Google Meet or any other platform for online conversation: have you found yourself looking often at your own face? That’s one way this experience differs from getting together in person: when we meet around that table in the church library you see some folks straight on, other people in profile, and yourself not at all. On Zoom you’re looking at everyone straight on, including yourself. “Oh, that’s what other people see when they look at me.”

What do we see when we look at the face of Jesus? And where do we see the face of Jesus?

This chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is a treasure-trove of ideas; you may remember that at the service when I was installed as your Pastor Leslie Traylor preached from this chapter on the reality that the Pastor is a crackpot (v. 7). Well, that isn’t exactly how she put it, but I’ve thought about being a cracked pot ever since. I think I recall that one of her points was that you folks are crackpots too. Anyway, today I’m going with a different treasure in this chapter: what Paul says about the face of Jesus Christ and what he says about human nature. Although they are two different ideas, they give a wonderful gift if we hold them together.

It is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Once, Philip the Apostle said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and we’ll be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9). That is either a simple, profound truth or it is possibly the most outrageous thing anyone has ever said. We look at each other’s faces, whether on Zoom or in person, and we feel that we know something about each other. “He has a kind face,” you say. “When I look at her, I see the face of an angel.” And when you see the face of Almira Gulch in The Wizard of Oz you get a sense of what sort of person she was. By the way, Margaret Hamilton must have had to work at that face, because her face had none of the pinched cruelty of Miss Gulch and her alter-ego, the Wicked Witch of the West. I read that Ms. Hamilton appeared on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood to explain to children that she wasn’t really mean; she was playing a role.

Paul says that what you and I see when we look at the face of Jesus Christ is glory of Almighty God. It’s a beautiful, convoluted sentence, and I’m afraid I would ruin it if I tried to tease it out too carefully. It isn’t just anyone we see in the face of Jesus; we see the creating God. It isn’t just any light that shines from that face into our hearts, it is the light of the very One who said, “Let there be light.” Let that rest there.

So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

I find myself fairly often reading that verse at funerals and that unfortunately gives the impression that Paul is telling us that even though our bodies are breaking down, our spirits are being renewed. But I don’t think that’s what he means. And it isn’t always the case. Paul isn’t just writing to old fogies; “outer nature wasting away” doesn’t simply refer to muscles and bone breaking down, because he’s writing also to younger folks whose muscles and bones are growing stronger. And “inner nature” doesn’t simply mean “spirit,” as though simply by having enough birthdays you get spiritually better and better. “Nature” isn’t actually the word Paul wrote, but it’s an attempt by the translators not to say “man,” as in “outer man” and “inner man.”

I am persuaded that Paul is getting across that God is working in us to make someone new of each of us, and the way that feels is the person we have been is decaying and the person we are becoming is being renewed. You could say that “outer person” or “outer nature” is what I am by birth: male, White, Baby Boomer, and so forth. “Inner nature” is what God is making of me, and that is a process that is renewed day by day. As one of my friends says repeatedly: One Day at a Time.

It is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

I hope holding those two together suggests to you what it suggests to me: as we look at the face of Jesus Christ, God is renewing us in the likeness of Jesus Christ. As has been said in many ways and by many people: Christ became what we are so we may become what he is. It is God’s purpose to make our human nature more God-like, to take our earthly selves and make us more heavenly. We dare not go as far as the Latter-Day Saints go in saying that we shall be gods; no, Scripture does not teach that. But God wishes for us to reflect the glory of God, to share in the nature of God, to look at the face of God.

The wonderful old word for that is apotheosis, which literally means “making someone a god” but among us Christians means being drawn closer and closer to the being of the One who said, “Let light shine out of darkness.” If you want to use up-and-down metaphors, you can say that Christ has come down in order to raise us up.

That is what God does for us when we look at the face of Jesus Christ. God renews our inner nature, giving us the Spirit of Christ to draw us closer to God. So keep reading the Bible, watching out for the face of Jesus Christ in what you read. Keep coming to worship – in person or online – to catch a glimpse of the face of Christ in Scripture and Sacrament, in preaching and prayer and song. As you go about your day, keep “seeking Christ every day, everywhere, in everyone” (our Church’s Mission Statement).

And you may even see the face of Christ on your next Zoom call, in the faces of the other people on the screen, and maybe even in your own face.

Robert A. Keefer
Presbyterian Church of the Master
Omaha, Nebraska

 

Adult Education: June 2

Although we’re now doing most things in person, Wednesday Adult Education will continue via Zoom through the summer.

Join us Wednesday at 7:00 pm to discuss I Kings 22; II Kings 1-14; Psalms 60-63; and II Corinthians 2-6.

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Adult Education: May 26

Have thoughts about readings from the Year of the Bible over the last week? Join us Wednesday evening at 7:00 CDT for conversation!

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We will talk about I Kings 8-21; Psalms 56-59; I Corinthians 13-16, and II Corinthians 1.

Adult Education: May 19

Wednesday, May 19, 7:00 pm – a free-wheeling conversation about the last week’s readings!

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We will talk about II Samuel 17-24; I Kings 1-7; Psalms 52-55; and I Corinthians 8-12.

 

Adult Education: May 12

Join us Wednesday evening for a conversation about this week’s readings in the Year of the Bible. Via Zoom (information below), 7:00 pm.

This week: II Samuel 1-16; Psalms 50 & 51; I Corinthians 3-7

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Meeting ID: 951 7100 9442
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Adult Education: May 5

Cinco de mayo! Our conversation Wednesday evening (7:00 Central) will be on I Samuel 16-31; Psalms 48 & 49; Mark 14-16; and I Corinthians 1 & 2.

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Meeting ID: 951 7100 9442
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Adult Education: April 28

Wednesday, April 28, 7:00 pm Central – time to talk about the Scriptures!

This week we have read Ruth 3, 4; I Samuel 1 – 15; Psalms 45, 46, & 47; and Mark 9 – 13.

Zoom address: https://zoom.us/j/95171009442?pwd=a2QrN0l0LzVTMWdueFFpOUJ3WnNpQT09

Or open Zoom and enter ID #951 7100 9442 and passcode 215835.

 

Adult Education: April 21

We have some weird stories in this week’s reading to discuss… hope you’ll join us this evening at 7:00 pm Central.

This week’s readings are Judges 11-21; Ruth 1-2; Psalms 42, 43, & 44; and Mark 4-8.

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Meeting ID: 951 7100 9442
Passcode: 215835

Adult Education April 14

Join us for a free-flowing conversation about this week’s readings from the Year of the Bible!

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Meeting ID: 951 7100 9442
Passcode: 215835

This evening, 7:00 Central! We will talk about: Joshua 20-24; Judges 1-10; Psalms 39, 40, & 41; Romans 15-16; and Mark 1-3.