Below is a copy of the sermon I preached on Sunday, April 30, in Two Ridges Presbyterian Church, Wintersville, Ohio and Cove Presbyterian Church, Weirton, West Virginia. You can hear a podcast of the sermon on the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
If you find this sermon meaningful, please consider supporting this ministry by sending an offering to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
This morning, as we move from Easter to Pentecost, we’re going to talk about something I call “glimpses of glory.” And since I may be the only one to use it, let me explain what that means, at least, what that means to me. You see, for me, a glimpse of glory happens when, for some reason, I just feel especially close God or maybe all of a sudden I have this insight that I didn’t have before. And since it really wasn’t something I set out to get, it’s sort of like a gift given to me by God. In other words, for some reason, at one particular moment God showed me something that I may have never see before or God enabled me to feel something that I may have never felt in quite the same way. And when it happens, well, that’s what I call a glimpse of glory.
No, every time I experienced these glimpses of glory, I was working out in a weight room in the basement of Richmond Hall with my very best seminary friend, Steve Goyer. Now, you’ve got to understand, this work-out basement, man, it was a pretty grimy place, and it was always empty, because exercising wasn’t a high priority for most seminary students in the ‘80s. And although I called it a weight room, it actually only had an old universal machine, about a dozen dumbbells, a bar for chin-ups, and this dusty, canvas punching bag. But I’ll tell you, that was good enough for me and Steve, and so most afternoons we’d go down these metal stairs and exercise. And since we were taking the same classes, for the most part, we’d talk about some of the stuff we’d covered that day you know, during Dr. Leith’s class on the theology of John Calvin or with Dr. Kingbury in New Testament Exegesis or in Dr. Towner’s course on Hebrew Wisdom Literature, you know, fun stuff like that.
And so as we worked out, Steve and I would talk, and we’d kind of take some of the ideas we were discussing in class and push them a little further than we’d done a few hours before. And I’ll tell you, every now-a-then, we’d get these, well, these glimpses of glory, when all-of-sudden a whole bunch of stuff I was going to memorize anyway, man, it just made sense. But more than that, it felt as though, for some reason, God had opened our eyes and allowed us to see something we’d never seen before. I’ll tell you, it was weird but really nice. And even though this spark of insight only lasted a little while and no matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t bring it back when it was gone, I still remember how it felt, this lifting of the curtain, this unexpected closeness with God, this sudden glimpse of glory.
And I’ll tell you, right here the story could have ended: with those two disciples getting a great lecture on theology and the Bible, but that’s about all, right? Their eyes were still closed. They still didn’t recognize the one walking with them. They still hadn’t experienced any kind of real closeness with the risen savior. They still hadn’t receive anything like a glimpse of glory. But you know, in the story, that changed, and it changed by a decision that they made and some action that they took. I mean, if they’d kept quiet and allowed Jesus to just keep going down that road, they may have grown in their knowledge but they would have missed out on something deeper.
But you know, they did more than just talk about it among themselves. As Luke continued: “That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” You see, they took what they’d gone through and shared it with others. In other words, they’d passed on to others the glory he’d experienced. And I’ll tell you, I think the same thing applies to us. Of course, if you have no interest in experiencing this kind of thing happening to you, then you probably don’t care about what I’m about to say, and that’s O.K. I mean, if you really don’t care about feeling really close God or receiving a sudden insight that you may not have had before, that’s your business not mine.
But I’ll tell you, if you do, if you do want to feel an incredible closeness to the creator of the universe and if you do want to receive this flash of insight into who Christ was and is and if you do want to experience the touch of the Holy Spirit, suddenly opening your eyes and minds and hearts, I mean, if you do want this kind of glimpse into God’s glory, I think this passage can teach us a lot about how it might be received and how we might respond. You see, even though I believe that God is in control; therefore, he’s the one who has the power and the authority to open our eyes, I think there are some places where this happens more often than others. I mean, for those two disciples, it was when Jesus was with them at that table and when we broke with them the bread. It was at that place and at that time when their eyes were open. And for me and Steve, it was when we were exercising in the basement of Richmond Hall after our classes were over for the day.
And then we can share what we’ve experienced with others. And you know, when you think about it, why wouldn’t we want to do that? I mean, if I’ve experienced something wonderful, why wouldn’t I want to share some of that wonder with my Christian brothers and sisters? Who knows, maybe through my experience, God may open the eyes of someone else. You see, in response to these glimpses of glory, we can both consider what they mean and share them with others.
Now, back when I was in seminary, I knew that for some reason, I was most likely to receive a sudden insight and feel a special presence when I was discussing God’s word with my friend Steve. And since then, I’ve found some other places and some other people that God seems to use to open my eyes. And in that, I really feel blessed, you know, like those two disciples must have felt when they suddenly realized that they’d been with the risen Christ. But I’ve got to admit, although I’ve received some wonderful experiences, my response, well, I don’t think it’s been quite as good as it could have been. I guess that’s something on which I still need to work. And for us here, as we open ourselves to God, let’s find those places we’re most likely to receive these special experiences. And then, let’s be willing to take the time and make the effort to respond to these glimpses of glory.