“…and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,..”
Every Sunday one of the residents stands in front of the chapel and reads the scripture selected for this weeks worship gathering.
This may be the first time he’s read in a church setting. It may be the first time he has read from the bible. He might stumble over the words. He might be filled with fear even though he’s volunteered to do this.
With 100 men I don’t know many details of their life but I know he’s not living at the Salvation Army because life was good. It’s alcohol or drugs and these days in this part of the country odds are it’s opioids. I know there was something that took him out of life. If you heard some of their stories you’d probably give him a pass for choosing drugs or alcohol to numb the pain; to escape the nightmares that were real.
What I see when they stand in the front of our simple, small chapel isn’t what brought them here. I’ve come to see God’s glory surrounding them. God’s radiant love and mercy shining around someone who still isn’t sure if there is a God.
It’s easier to recognize God’s glory in church. It’s easier to see it shining on the clean and well fed. But the truth is, God’s glory was shining on them holding that cardboard sign on the side of the road. His glory was wrapping them in a grace they hadn’t discovered.
The familiar verse in Luke gives a beautiful image of God’s glory. The Voice says it this way:
“Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!” Luke 2:9
God chose to shine his glory on a group of smelly men who spent most of their time living outdoors with their sheep. They were laborers. Unless they had an assistant they probably didn’t take time off to attend religious instruction. In other words, they weren’t church folks. Their ordinary life was interrupted by God’s radiant glory, their darkness replaced by His glory. This heavenly birth announcement was specifically given to them. By an ANGEL CHOIR!
He stands in front of our chapel and reads.
He plays his first piano solo in church one week.
He kneels at the altar.
He is sitting in our service unsure of who this Jesus is.
He is angry with God.
He stands to thank God for giving him breath.
I have wrestled with God, turned my back on him, ignored his voice yet, it’s His glorious light that continues to break through the darkness in my life.
God’s grace surrounds us. Do you see it?
God’s glory always shines in the dark places.