And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ [fn] the Lord.
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
What is Glory?
Is it one of those things that you sing about, read about, maybe talk about, especially if you have been around a church for any length of time. But what does it mean “Glory to God in the highest?”
To help us unpack this a little we are going to study the word Glory a little, as it appears in the scriptures.
The word glory is a very complex nuanced sort of word...
Lets start in
For the director of music. A psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
The word Glory is the word kabowd (kä·bode')
and it means :
honor, glorious, abundance, riches, splendor, glory
And it comes from the root word kä·bad'
Which means to be heavy, or weighty
The heavens declare the Kabowd of God
Remember lessons one and two?
Have you ever looked at the stars , maybe through a telescope, or ever watched a mediator storm?
When I was a kid my dad took me out in the country away from all the man made lights to watch a mediator storm first hand...
I was struck by the idea that these rocks, which use to be part of something else much larger, and had been flying through space for who knows how long, were crashing into our earth our home. They had traveled perhaps millions of light years, much farther than even our strongest telescopes can see. And now they were burning up in our atmosphere.
Which is another good point, we live on a planet that is designed to protect us from all of this floating space junk...
DO you get a feel for how big the universe is?
Kabwod is heavy, signifying that other things are light, temporary, Its as if the wind could blow at any minute and they would be gone...
Everything turns to dust or rust
Advisers spend a lot of energy convincing us that we will be happy if we just buy that new shiny car... But after a few years, especially if you live in a cold climate where they spread copious amounts of salt on the roads, it starts to turn into rust.
This is true of everything we lust or long for. (even other people)
Kabowd is like the kick drum of the universe, its what happens when you come face to face with the bigness of the universe and you are reminded of the proper proportions of the universe and that you are not the most important thing in it!
This is the Hebrew Idea of Kabowd
How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"
And the Lord said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."
Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."
And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."
Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock.
When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.
Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen."
Moses asks to see Gods Kabowd...
But God says “I will cause all of my goodness”
Rhe Rabbis say that the “You will see my backside” is a way of saying you will see the spot where I have just been.
So Moses says I want to see ALL of your Golor..
And God says You can't handle my Kabowd...
Can't you hear God laughing in this... Its like he says
You have to catch your breath when you see the stars, and now you want to see my Kabowd?
Central to understanding the Kabowd of God is the Awe the reverence the humility that comes from knowing who God is and who you are.
Sometimes we loose track of the proportions...
It is good for us to be reminded of this...
But the scriptures have a little more to say about Us (humans) and Glory...
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [fn] and crowned him with glory and honor.
We are crowned with Kabowd?
What does it mean?
This is why when you hear a story, like of slaves beening set free
like of homeless people being fed and clothed
like of a community garden where people work together shoulder to shoulder and then give the extra food to people who are hungry
This is why you feel that leap in your heart, why you are like
YES NOT THAT IS WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT.
We are hard wired for Kabowd...
And yet we continually seek that feeling in so many other ways...
And we live in a culture that promises to fulfill that yearning that need for Glory in a million ways.
Marketers invent a new way to fall into debt every day. That is they try to convince us that they have tapped into a new way to find fulfillment and happiness...
But it is all Dust and Rust!
It should not be lost on you that the neon lights and the bright security lights drown out the stars. It you want to see the stars, to be reminded of the Kabowd of God, you have to escape all ot that.
So one of the central if not the central them of Christmas is this.
Gods Glory has come to earth... the fulfillment of the very things we long for the very things that our culture trys to sell us, but always falls short, is present is at hand. It has arrived and is available for anyone who is willing to accept it.
But only if you are willing to let go of all the lies, of all the dust and rust that our culture sells us!