Exodus 34:29-35 (NRSV)
Verse 29Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Verse 30When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. Verse 31But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. Verse 32Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. Verse 33When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; Verse 34but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, Verse 35the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
This week’s readings include imagery of light, which is fitting as we conclude the Time after Epiphany that celebrates Christ as light revealed to the world. They also include mountain images appropriate for our transition into Lent’s contemplative, challenging journey.
In today’s reading, Moses climbs Mount Sinai, a likely challenging trek. At the summit, Moses encounters God and descends with a shining face. It wasn’t radiance Moses found for himself. It wasn’t a glowing reward he earned by reaching the summit. Rather, it was from Moses’ direct relationship with God.
Alone, we may be unable to put on radiant faces, especially as we trek through these days of more nighttime than daylight. However, God treks up every mountain with us, joins us at the summit, guides us back down, and remains with us across the valleys of our daily lives. Through our relationship with God, we reflect God’s radiant glory.
Lord of mountaintops and valleys, thank you for trekking with us throughout all our journeys. Help us reflect your glory to all the travelers we meet along life’s ways. Amen.