Earthquakes occur in the Holy Land. When the psalmist sings
“let the peoples tremble” and “the earth quake,” he is reflecting
on a familiar experience. He uses this image to underscore
a quality of the nature and power of God. To put it simply, God
shakes things up.
The trembling and the quaking associated with God’s
actions revolve around God’s love of justice and righteousness.
God will continue to quake and shake to bring all things into
proper alignment with justice. In a baccalaureate address in
August 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. reframed the words of
Theodore Parker when King observed, “The arc of the moral
universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
I will never forget meeting Desmond Tutu at the World
Methodist Conference of 1986 in Nairobi, Kenya. He had been
invited to the event because of his role in helping to bring down
the injustice of the apartheid system in South Africa. It would
be eight long years before apartheid fell, but Tutu felt confident
of its demise. I can still see him standing at the podium, waving
his Bible over his head and declaring boldly, “Apartheid is
dead! Apartheid is dead.” He knew that even in the midst of the
struggle, injustice would not prevail in God’s universe.
God is exalted in Zion. God oversees all matters from the
heights of that holy hill. God looks upon our world filled with
injustice, malice, and strife, and works all day for good. God
continues to shake. God continues to quake. In the end, God’s
justice will triumph over racism, xenophobia, discrimination,
and fear. God will establish the beloved community.
God of justice and righteousness, we long for peace and reconciliation. Shake our world with the power of your love and establish your beloved community of peace. Amen.
In deep deference and careful obedience, Moses enters the zone of God’s glory, which certifies Moses’ authority. Psalm 99 praises the kingship of Yahweh, while bringing to mind the human agents of God’s rule who facilitate Yahweh’s conversation with the people. The Gospel lesson, like Exodus 24, characterizes what is not fully seen or clearly heard. Jesus is taken up into the zone of God’s glory and so is filled with transcendent authority. Speech about glory points to the assignment of new authority. The epistle reading asserts the authority of the true teachers of the church who rightly present and interpret the scriptural tradition.
• Read Exodus 24:12-18. When did you last experience a life-altering encounter with God?
• Read Psalm 99. Have you ever felt that if God really knew you, you would be hopeless? What changed your mind?
• Read 2 Peter 1:16-21. For the epistle writer, the Transfiguration event focuses more on hearing than on seeing. How do you listen for God’s words?
• Read Matthew 17:1-9. What dark places have you seen brightened by Christ’s presence—through you or others?
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