‘Glory’ is one of my favourite words. It has a satisfying, round, sound. And it means so much.
There are several Hebrew words the are translated as ‘glory.’ There’s the one which means weight. Something heavy. That doesn’t sound so good till you think of the English word, ‘substance.’ The glory of God is substantial. Not some lightweight, fragile thing, but solid – substantial. The sort of thing you could rely on.
And the other word describes an effect of shimmering light. God’s glory is bright and dazzling, much too bright for us to see clearly. So, in the first reading we heard that Moses was told that he could not see God and live. The sight was too much for him to bear.
But what was that in the Gospel reading? ‘We beheld his glory?’ This is about Jesus, come to live among us, and showing us what God is like. Jesus reveals God to us in a way that we can just about cope with, as a human being, his glory shown as much in his suffering as in his triumphs. At his birth the angels proclaimed – ‘Glory to God in the highest! ‘
Those are the words we sing when we sing ‘The Gloria.’ ‘Glory to God in the highest.’ We worship God who has been revealed to us. And worshipping in that way does something to us. We are changed, as we worship; week by week, something happens to us. The prophet Isaiah mocked some of the surrounding nations for worshipping wooden idols, saying that the people would become wooden themselves. That’s smart psychology, that we grow to resemble what we worship. Money? Celebrity? How impoverished compared to worshipping God and growing more like God in the process. Then we shall be, as Charles Wesley put it: ‘changed from glory into glory.’
Listen to the talk …