Shiny, Happy People

Exodus 34:29-35 (inclusive version)
As Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two tablets of the Covenant, he was not aware that the skin on his face was shining from speaking with God. When Aaron and the other Israelites saw Moses, they were afraid to approach him because of the radiance of the skin of his face. Only when Moses called to them did Aaron and the leaders of the community come near, and then Moses spoke to them.
Later, all the Israelites gathered around, and Moses gave them the instructions he had received from YHWH on Mount Sinai. When he finished speaking to them, Moses put a veil over his face. Whenever Moses entered the presence of YHWH, he would remove the veil until he came out again, and when he would come out and tell the Israelites what had been commanded, they would see that the skin on his face was radiant. Then he would put the veil over his face again until he went in to speak with God.



What happens to our bodies when we spend time near to God?
I love this scripture about Moses leaving Mount Sinai after forty days and nights with the Holy One and his face is shining like the sun. And he doesn’t even know it. That is the best part for me.
I have known lots of sparkly people. I have even at times tried to be a sparkly person, or better stated, to perform what I thought other people thought was ‘a sparkly person.’  Who doesn’t want to be described as ‘high energy,’ or ‘witty’ or as ‘having a powerful presence.’ Yet so often I have left events feeling sort of exhausted. (Mixers in graduate school come to mind). In these sessions of meeting and greeting and trying to project the things that interest me, and sharing my ‘story’ and passions I end up consuming myself.  I wonder if this desire to project light isn’t something that many of us struggle with at least some of the time.  It does seem that our world trades on the sparkly.
So what is going on with Moses and how is it any different?
He is deeply connected with the Source. Rather than consuming himself, God’s light seems to just be rubbing off on him and through him rubbing off on the world. What is the quality of God’s light? Here it is more awe-inducing than sparkly. In fact, rather than drawing people toward him at the cocktail party this light seems at first pass to drive them away. Aaron and others are scared. They hold their hands to their eyes and peer out, straining to find the man they recognize, the Moses they sent up the mountain. But he has been transformed.
Have you ever encountered someone with this kind of light emanating from their face?
Ina May Gaskin in her book Spiritual Midwifery talks about the change in a woman’s skin when she is in labor. She describes a softening of facial features and an increase in the range of subtle expressions a woman makes as she opens herself for birth. In Ina May’s experience, a woman is her most beautiful version of herself in these precious moments, for those who have eyes to see.
Now not everyone’s birth experience is one of transcendent beauty, but I do think Ina May is observing something powerful about what happens to our bodies during certain life experiences when we are open to being a portal for God.
This is not lightweight spiritual stuff. And yes, I know it can be talked about in a way that makes it seem sort of new-agey and superficial.  But when I read a passage like today’s from Exodus and its beautiful echo in the Gospel of Luke (Jesus’ Transfiguration chapter 9: 28-43) it brings me around to that first question. What really happens to our bodies when we are near to God? When we experience YHWH as our very own breath, inhaling and exhaling this present moment? How is the spirituality that we practice something that is manifest not just in a heart space, or a head space, but in an energetic and embodied way?
Join us tonight and Sunday. I think we will have fun talking about this one. 
peace and all good things,
PS Wed. Community Meal is now held on an ongoing basis at Casa Semrad 108 South Rosemont Ave, 6:30 pm. All are welcome!  Tonight Rebel is bringing a pasta and veggie dish and rumor has it she’s got ice cream for dessert. Some bread to share would be welcome. Call church number for more info 214. 233-4605. 
PPS Join us for a Love Feast and All Church Meeting this Sunday after worship. Bring a side to share, as the Board provides an update and we celebrate our 11th anniversary as a Church.






One of the joys of pastoring a church such as Church in the Cliff is how engaged this community is in social investment of various forms.  We give money, we organize, we volunteer,  we enter into relationship with the poor, locally and globally,  and we help and love each other.

This week we met and exceeded our goal of collecting $1000 for Partners in Health, an organization that provides community-based health care in Haiti and other developing countries around the world.  They have over twenty years of experience working on the ground in Haiti’s poorest communities and are well equipped both to respond to the crisis and help rebuild the health infrastructure over the long term. Thank you to Ron for his passionate appeal and to all who donated. We collected $1025 which I am mailing in this week with a hand-written note from our community. Thanks be to God for all who shared so freely! 



This new year we continue with a paradigm for worship and study launched in the fall at Church in the Cliff called Feast on the Word: Savoring Scripture in a Twitter World.
As part of this practice we draw our scriptural lesson from the
revised common lectionary (which provides four lessons for each week). The worship team commits to engaging the scripture and seeing what speaks to the life of our church and all are invited to join in the conversation through our worship planning meeting, the Community meal, worship, and by posting comments online at our Church in the Cliff website. 
Worship Team meets Mondays 6pm at The Quinn, 202 W. Davis St. Dallas 75208. All are welcome. We are a community which strives to blend the arts and justice-seeking action into our worshiping core.  We would love your ideas and creativity. Join us!




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