As a child, I was both terrified and tantalized by The Wizard of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the West scared me, but I loved Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. I adored Munchkins and loathed flying monkeys. Yet the greatest juxtaposition for me came at the end of the movie when our fearful but undaunted band meets the great and powerful Oz. They are mesmerized as the great Oz blasts fire and bellows thunder—at least until the smallest of the group, Dorothy’s little dog Toto, pulls back the veil on the elderly man working the machinery generating the illusion. “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” roars Oz. But it is too late; the ruse is up. That which was hidden is now seen for what it truly is—a magnificently manufactured lie.
From 2 Corinthians 3:12 forward, the author uses the word veil in several ways: A veil hides the glory of God shining in Moses’ face. The Israelites’ minds are veiled from seeing the power of God behind the covenant. Those who know Christ have unveiled faces.
In today’s verses, the minds of some Corinthians are blinded by “the god of this world.” They are persons for whom the gospel is veiled as they stand transfixed by the powerful and much lesser gods of this world. In our context, those gods include alluring and false promises, fake news, two minutes of Twitter titillation or Facebook fame. We indulge our fantasies and have trouble finding our faith. We yearn for a gospel that is authentic, life-changing, and right. We stand in need of someone to pull back the veil so that we can see what is real and, in so doing, find our best and true selves.
Lord, take the veil from my mind’s eyes so that I may see you and find myself. Amen.
In the week leading to Transfiguration Sunday, the texts all deal with holy, transforming light; but they also speak to the awkwardness of waiting for and finally experiencing that light. Elisha’s is a stop-and-go pilgrimage before he sees the chariots of fire. Our psalmist proclaims the march of the sun across the sky while also waiting for the eschatological arrival of God’s justice for God’s people. Paul empathizes with the believers in Corinth who are having to wait and work to “give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” Jesus leads Peter, James, and John up a mountain where they wait and are terrified by the cloud of glory that overshadows them.
• Read Psalm 50:1-6. If your life was like the sun arcing across the sky from sunrise to sunset, where in the daytime arc are you right now? What justice would you like to take part in creating before your life sets in the west?
• Read 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. In what areas of your life do you feel blinded to the light God wants to shine there?
• Read 2 Kings 2:1-12. Think of a time you have felt most blessed by God. How long did you wait for that blessing? Was it worth the wait?
• Read Mark 9:2-9. Recall your last "mountaintop" experience with Christ. How would you describe it? How did that experience change you?
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