Thursday, February 15, 2007

Last Sunday of Epiphany, Year C: Exodus 34:29-35

rays flashing from his face
The appointed lesson for this coming Sunday, the last Sunday after Epiphany, Year C, is Exodus 34:29-35. This would be a rich passage to preach on. It recounts Moses' return from Mount Sinai shining with holiness and the glory of God. This passage evidences the editorial hand of the HS priestly editors, strongly reflecting their emphasis on God's sanctifying power.

After having conversed with God, the skin of Moses' face flashes with beams or rays of glory, and he does not even realize it. In HS theology, that's what happens when you are in the presence of God, as Moses was. Something of the divine glory remains with you, and it shows. God's presence and light naturally beams out to fill our lives with beauty and power. Such visible glory attracts our innermost longings. It is truly the object of our deepest desires.

God's holiness is far from safe. At first, Aaron and all the people shrink back in awe and fear (34:30). Moses finds that he must veil his face when he is not in God's presence. It is not that he wants to keep God's power from us; it's just that we are not yet ready to receive it in its full force. Moses prevents us from seeing more than we can handle. How might we open ourselves to receive more of the bright, stinging influx of God's transformative holiness? There are rich possibilities here for the homilist to explore.

In the theology of HS, we nurture God's holy presence with us through both acts of justice and acts of worship. We make space in our lives to build community and to commune with God. Creating such space in our lives today is a huge challenge. Our lives are full with commitments and activities and pleasurable leisure opportunities. This passage reminds us, however, that life's real thrills for which our souls truly long have their one true source in the spiritual sun of God's glory.


Blogger David said...

What does the abbreviation "HS" represent?

Thu Feb 15, 10:10:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

David, Good Question! "HS" is one of the new sources behind the Pentateuch discovered by Israel Knohl and Jacob Milgrom not too long ago. "HS" stands for "Holiness School" and the school is aptly named. For one good introduction to all this, click here: Knohl

Thu Feb 15, 10:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger David said...

Thanks for the info!. But now a related question, what has happened to the old quartet "J E P D?"

Thu Feb 15, 01:20:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Boy, the documentary hypothesis has come under fire from many different sides in recent decades and years. I won't get into all of that here, except to say that "HS" can be thought of as one part of what used to be called the "P" strand. The other half of "P," under this new hypthesis of Knohl, is to be termed "PT." Hope this helps! ---SLC

Fri Feb 16, 05:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never thought about this before, but, when reading this post, it stuck me how repeatedly divine encounters have an impact in some way on the physical features (Moses here, Jacob in Gen 32, Isaiah in Isa 6, Abraham in Gen 17, Ezekiel at various points). I wonder if this could help one re-think notions of the body or disability in the OT.


Sat Feb 17, 12:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Hi Jeremy! I'm teaching a seminar on Ezekiel this term, and it continues to amaze me how much his physical body is involved in his prophecies. In ch. 37, for example, he's right there within his own vision, moving around amid the bones, and hearing and feeling the commotion as the bones join together... ---SLC

Sat Feb 17, 12:34:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats funny that you should mention Ezekiel because I just replied to your other post. Yes, the "body imagery" in Ezekiel (at least 1-39) in very complex. I think Jacq Lapsley has done some nice work on this. See the reference in my other reply. By the way, in the mar-sbl presenter index, the name "Cooey, Blake" should be spelled "Couey, Blake."

Sat Feb 17, 12:47:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger S and C said...

Oh, Boy. Apologies to Blake. ---S.

Sun Feb 18, 06:54:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Unknown said...


I was thinking the same thing you were about encounters with God and the physical repercussions. I did a post on this on my blog. You can read it at

Thu Feb 22, 01:05:00 PM GMT-5  

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