United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

Date: February 27, 2022

Sermon Title: "Find Your Light"

By: Minister Kimberly Braxton

Focus Scripture: Exodus 34:29-35 / Psalm 16:11

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 

Good morning! This morning’s reading comes out of the Exodus narrative. One of my favorite books in the bible because it gives so many lessons on liberation, leadership and reveals the humanness of one arguably one of the greatest leaders in the bible, Moses.

Just to provide some quick background. In the previous verses the Lord called Moses up to Mount Sinai to present himself alone. When Moses was on the mountain the Lord descended in the form of a cloud and passed in front of Moses proclaiming in verse 6, “The Lord, the Lord the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” Then the Lord not only provided instructions that He wanted Moses to relay to the people He entered into a covenant with Moses in verse 10, “before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in the world.” And that’s where we find ourselves this morning. Moses, after meeting God in such an intimate and powerful way experiencing God’s magnificence, receiving a covenant promise and taking diction of the instructions that the Lord wanted his people to follow. Moses descends from the mountain top and his face is radiant wit the glory of God. Now scholars will argue as scholars often do about the truth in this statement. Was Moses’ face truly radiant? How could it possibly shine. 

In my opinion and experience you cannot linger in the presence of God and not step out of the experienced changed. There will always be some kind of “holy residue” left on you as a result of the encounter. I mean look at our human relationships. The more you hang around people the more you begin to rub off on one another. I have a friend that I’ve known for over 40 years and when we are together there is a shorthand between us that transcends words. At times we don’t need to use words - - a simple look, a sidewards glance can relay an entire conversation. When we travel we know each other’s likes, preferences and trigger points. We jokingly say that we share a brain and when we hang out together with other people they are genuinely amazed and say, “You two sound exactly alike!”, “You have the same facial expressions!”, “You look and move so much alike you can be twins!” For the record we look nothing alike. I’m 5’11, have brown skin, and have coily hair. She’s 5’8, the color of resume paper, and has loose curly hair. I’m built like an athlete, she is the embodiment of Jessica Rabbit. 

But apparently, we are so “indistinguishable” that her doorman let me in her building without signing in, I got access to the residents’ only pool, hung out getting to know the neighbors and got her invited to the tenant meeting (they didn’t like the new wallpaper in the lobby and were starting a petition) all while I was kittensitting. We are two people, that look nothing alike but our mannerisms, rhythm and cadence of our speech and how we turn a phrase is so similar it is clear to everyone that meets us that we know one another and we have spent some serious time together. For the last 40 something years we have been through the good and the bad; joys and pains; births and deaths; richer and broke. For every heartbreak; every joyous love all of it we were there supporting one another, cheering one another one and acting as a backup if something didn’t go as planned. It’s that familiarity, that causes our mannerisms to rub off on one another to the point that people can’t tell the difference between two completely different individuals. How does this story relate to this morning’s scripture reading? Looking at the text Moses had spent an extended time in the presence of the Lord and when he came off the mountain to rejoin the people verse 20, “He was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”

The time that Moses spent with the Lord changed him. His face glowed with the glory of God. All that time in HIS presence rubbed off on Moses and it was reflected in his countenance. He was radiant. When you send time in the presence of someone, when you have a dynamic/interactive intimate relationship with a person, you will begin to rub off on one another. As Proverbs states “As iron sharpens iron so one man’s countenance sharpens another.” In Moses case his face shone and became radiant. The people could see a definite change in Moses and if they had any doubts that he was spending time with God the fact that his face was lit up with His glory made it was clear to all that “Moses spent time God.” He had a relationship with the Ancient of Days. So this morning I only have one question to ask - - when someone sees you WHO do they see reflected in your countenance? When people meet you will they sense that you have an intimate relationship with the most High? Will they know without you having to announce it that you are a “King’s kid”? So I ask again, what do you see reflected in your countenance? When was the last time that you experienced the presence of God and lingered there? When was the last time you were able to slow down and engage the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords for a check-in? a heart-to-heart meeting?

This is an important practice of our faith because over the last two years it has been challenging to maintain a sense of community and the corporate worship experiences that we grew accustomed to pre-Covid. But I want to challenge that and say that the same God that met Moses on the Mountain, That same God that would meet us in corporate worship on Sunday morning when we met in person is waiting for you, waiting for us to plug in and connect to Him now. Right here where we are. This week I want to challenge us to take the time to linger in the presence of God with no other agenda than spending time with Him and listening for what He has to say. This type of intimacy is different from seeking the Hand of God. You know when we ask for things, provision, making prayer requests. Which is valid there is nothing wrong with making these requests. But think about it when was the last time you lingered in the presence of God and the only goal you had in mind was just to be in His presence? Those vital times of refreshing. I know I’m not the only person guilty of skipping over the intimacy and going straight for the “give to me”.

In the same way that my friend and I begin to reflect one another the more we hang out with each other. The more you will begin to reflect God in the very nature of your being when you intentionally take time to spend with Him. You won’t have to announce the change. People will see it and know it. But why is this important? Well, a lot of times we are the first bibles that people read, the first Christ that people meet. We are God’s children and are His representatives in an unbelieving world. When you spend time in the presence of God you will be changed. People will notice that there is something different about you. Maybe you are more peaceful, more joyful, less anxious. And they will ask, “How are you able to be so pleasant and kind when the world is crazy!” And you’ll be able to respond, “It’s all about The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit”. People need to know in the middle of the tumultuous period we are living in there is still a way to experience peace that surpasses understanding. I end with this, go into the week and make time to meet with God. Discover what He has to say to you and feel the love He has for you first hand. And when you step out of that encounter you will be changed.