Festival of the Transfiguration – Series C
Preaching this sermon requires that we spend a little time on the term “glory.” Luther decried a theologian of glory, but to no avail. Most theologians it seems are theologians of glory in this day. Luther would have defined that sort of theologian as one who had an “ergo” theology which imagined that God had buttons which could be pushed and levers which could be pulled to get what I want. He contrasted that with the theologian of the cross, the one whose theology was a “despite” theology, in which God worked through suffering, loss, and grace. I don’t want to be a theologian of glory. At the same time, glory is a very good biblical word. How can use the term aright? Try this: The Hebrew term (chabod) means weight. The meaning we usually associate with the term is derivative. It seems to have derived from the idea that successful/important/powerful people were often fat/heavy people.
The Glory of the Lord in the OT seems to have been a great cloud that boiled off God when he made himself present, particularly in the days of Exodus, but also in the temple when Solomon dedicated it and other times in the OT. In Hebrew, this word is Shekainah. Luke picks up on this and has this glory (chabod) of the Lord show up at Jesus birth, just in case you missed it that Jesus is God’s presence in the world.
Contrary to expectation, then, the word glory in its biblical sense is not about something which is bright, shiny, and otherworldly. It is what happens when that bright, shiny, and otherworldly thing is down here. When it is right here. The glory is what happens when the Holy God hits air. It is an indication of God’s incarnation, His presence, but it is in the world, not seen from afar.